Teaching English with Ato – The Ass Grab

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My early feelings of disdain for the school were cemented when one of the Japanese teachers rushed out to meet me and then had me wait outside while the staff meeting was in progress. I took this to mean that the staff strictly adhered to the rules and that I would probably be stuck here until the time stated on my contract.

The interesting thing about being the foreign English teacher in a Japanese public school: they fully expect you to arrive quite early and stay late. Your contract clearly states the working hours but those in-charge want you to merge seamlessly into the Japanese machine just like any other Japanese cog. Well, there are two problems: one, I am not Japanese and two, I am not a cog.

Passive Aggressive Rule of Engagement for Non-Japanese Working in the Japanese School System #573: Create Your Own Reality

The Japanese teacher dutifully stands outside of the staffroom, peering longingly through the glass window in the door like a loyal pet. The time comes to enter and she looks around for the English teacher, but where is he? ? He’s several meters down the hall (seemingly) looking at trophies. ? Hidden passive aggressive meaning: “I’m dangerous. I do what you request of me, but I do it in my own way. The job will be done and it will be done well, but remember: I am not Japanese, and the more you try to force me to be Japanese the more I will resist. I’m a being of logic and will pander to your Japanese rules only as far as my tolerance for subjugation allows. Just get used to it from the beginning”

Passive Aggressive Rule of Engagement for Non-Japanese Working in the Japanese School System #237: Do not Let Yourself Get Boxed into a Corner

Japanese teacher: ?”So what time do you leave?” ?(Translation: What time does your contract say you should leave?)

Me: “Whenever I’m done”? (Translation: Whenever I’m done.)

Japanese teacher: “When is that usually?” ?(Translation: Can you be more specific?)

Me😕 “Whenever…”? (Translation: No! Stop asking.)

My introduction to the staff went off without a hitch, as did the introductory classes -which is talking about myself for 40-minutes and I do that very well. The students all responded well and all was going smoothly until, the incident.

The Ass-grab!

Yes. I said, “ass-grab!” On my first day of class at the new school a thirteen year-old girl walked past me and, as she was passing behind me, slapped, grabbed and briefly held my right ass-cheek. ? The whole incident took less than half a second to transpire.

Now I don’t know which was more disturbing: the fact that it happened, or the fact that she did it so deftly that it was obvious that she had done it before. Needlessly to say, I don’t view the schoolgirls on the trains as innocently as before and will be going even further out of my way to avoid standing anywhere near them. ? The worst part is that this was not the first time that my ass has been grabbed by a thirteen year old. (Actually seeing that in print makes me want to throw myself out of the window – I am on the sixth floor).

At the first public school that I worked at one girl in particular stalked me for the entire semester until finally, on the last day at that school (and with me suspicious of her actions all year, standing close to the Japanese teacher with my back to the wall seemingly oblivious) she saw her chance and took it; a quick double pat on the ass. A double pat like the one you might receive from a team-member after a particularly good performance – except with a grab at the end. That occurrence however, was born more out of innocent schoolgirl infatuation it seems (well…not really…but more so): the crush built all semester and was repressed until in a last-chance desperate attempt to elicit some response from the subject. ? This was different!

It was the first day of classes. She did not have time to gauge my personality as friendly or hostile, friend or foe. In short – she didn’t know me. Yet, she still found it acceptable to walk past me whilst I was engaged in discussion with a group of her peers, and ?engage in this type of action with no fear of repercussion. This is why I have a “no touching” rule in my schools (A rule I had strictly informed four classes of that day – maybe she wasn’t in any of them) and it, in my opinion, has several far-reaching implications of various degrees of seriousness:

1. My initial assessment of the school just from the appearance of the exterior before I ever set foot in it or observed the children was and still is probably correct which means that..?.

2. It may be possible to correctly judge the mindset of the students of a school from the outward appearance of that school and, as a result, the amount of funding they receive or what the school chooses to spend its money on.?

3. This girl (and as a result probably all the girls in that school with their eyebrows shaved off) has no fear of authority and/or consequence in that school or in general.?

4. That girl (and maybe many of the other students) possibly has no fear of or respect for me. ?

5. 13-year-old girls in Japanese middle-school have no fear of and may possibly actively pursue much older men…aggressively. ?

6. What really happened between that guy and that young girl in Okinawa not so long ago?

And most seriously, 7. I will have to either have to report this so that it doesn’t go any further, as it’s still very early in the semester, or find a clever way to halt it before it snowballs (no pun intended) without embarrassing the girl to suicide or something.

Well, I ended-up stayed a bit past my clock-out time to play table tennis with some of the kids before heading home. Today’s situation is potentially problematic but maybe doing absolutely nothing will be enough!

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