The ME TOO status update on so many friends fb pages is wrecking me. Nearly every woman has a story of someone degrading her, forcing her against her will, making her feel unsafe. As the mother of 3 boys, who will grow to be men, it’s challenging me and as the mother of 3 girls, who will grow up to be women, it’s pissing me off. So much of what happens in adulthood begins in childhood, no matter which side of the nature vs nurture debate you fall on. Teaching our boys to respect women…does that maybe start with opening doors and not allowing them to speak coarsely around girls? And does it extend to teaching them to shield their eyes when scantily clothed women come on the screen because there should only ever be one women they see naked and it should be their wife? Can it reach to calling on their fathers to set the bar high? These boys, they watch. And if dad is doing it, good and bad, that’s a green light for them as well. When our boys watch their dad refusing to watch a show with nudity or sexism, it will make it easier for them to do the same. When they see him protecting and serving the women in his life, they notice. Can we start with our men and pray it trickles down? Sexual harassment or assault is not boys being boys behavior. That’s the devil’s Kool-Aid-moms of boys, let’s start by refusing to drink that crap.
And for our girls. They need to know that no touch they don’t approve of is ok. And that they can tell us when it happens and we will listen. We will. They have to know that we are watching and protecting and we will take action. But can we also be honest and say that so much of this trickles down from us women? Women, could we do our part by not walking around in yoga tights with our bums uncovered? To teach our daughters that it’s ok to cover up, even as every store that caters to them is trying to sell skin? Can we admit that maybe the skirts have gotten too short, the rips too near the crotch, the bra straps too visible? There is nothing (NOTHING please hear me on this) a woman can do to deserve or invite a man to assault her, but I look at some of the girls my boys go to school with and it’s like a garage sale of sexuality. The goods are on display and the boys are buying.
Let me say this again: nothing a girl wears/says/does is worthy of assault. Nothing. But let’s be careful to take some good, hard looks at how we are raising our girls too. Let’s teach our daughters that we don’t post pics on social media in bathing suits (this will not be a problem for me). Let’s teach them the language of refusal and practice it over and over until their voices are firm and loud. We have allowed them to put their bodies on display, now lets take them back and teach our daughters that what is hidden is even more beautiful. And you’d better believe that we are having conversations with our boys about how they speak of girls. I don’t care how old they are, if they refer to a girl as hot, I will soap their mouths so fast it’ll make their heads spin. I check their Instagram feeds weekly. Any girl posting suggestively or en dishabille will be unfollowed. It’s not about you, it’s about knowing that a boy’s first sexual encounter will almost always be with his eyes. We are working on training our sons to start with the women in our own family. When they can treat them with respect and honor, they might be ready to date. Solid might. Learn it in the home and then practice it in the world. We are trying. And I know you are too, so let’s recognize that how my daughters behave will affect your sons and how my sons treat your daughters will speak to our parenting. It starts with us.
Remember that spoiled brat kid who sexually assaulted a girl at Harvard and then got off because his father paid off the judge? For every public story of assault, there are thousands that are not being talked about. For every woman who has used her voice to stand up against her attacker, there are thousands who have not said a word. Lord, let our girls have a voice and let them use it for their own protection and safety. And let our boys also speak. Against degradation, against locker room talk, against the millions of men who say she asked for it. Just give them a voice.
this is me being real.