TW – Rape, Sexual assault
For those who don’t live under a rock, and if you’re reading this little blog, you don’t, you have seen the #metoo trending on twitter and Facebook in which women* are indicating just how many of us have experienced sexual assault and harassment. I can say with confidence it’s every woman you know. Because every woman puts up with it. They don’t all say it, they don’t all #metoo it, but they don’t have to. It still happened.
One of my first thoughts when I heard I was having a girl was the threat and abuse she will have to put up with, and there is not a fucking thing I can do to protect her. No-fucking-thing. These past few days, I’ve been looking at her eager, open, loving face and know she’ll one day be crying not because her shoes won’t come off when she wants them to stay on anyway, but in fear, confusion, shame, and anger.
I know there are ways I can… I guess I would say “prepare,” for lack of a better word, and I have been doing some of them since she was six months old. There are many more things I can do to help her.
Doyin Richards, the man behind Daddies Doin’ Work, asked his Facebook followers what advice they would give to young girls growing up in America, presumably to help them in their #metoo moments, and I want to catalogue some of my favorites. Some these I wish I had known when I was younger.
“”No” is a complete sentence and does not require an explanation.” I would add, Full stop. You’re not a bitch for saying no. And anyone who says you are or mocks you for it is full of shit and don’t belong in your life. There are better people to whom you can give your energy.
“You are valid and important without qualification. Your voice matters, not in relation to others, but because it carries weight on its own.”
“Trust your instincts. As a girl, as a woman, as a wife, as a mother. As a female. If it feels wrong, it is!!!”
“An attempted assault is assault…thats for all the catcalls, slowed vehicles, openly masturbating peeves.” So don’t doubt whether this is real, or maybe you misunderstood or maybe you’re being “too sensitive.” You’re not.
“You’re only seriously accountable to yourself. Make sure you can sleep at night with a clear conscience.” Ultimately, daughter, it doesn’t even matter what your dad and I think. Your values are your own and you need to be able to live with your choices.
“You are valuable. Everything about you. Your person has value. Your time has value. Your self has value. Your work has value. Your voice has value. Your silence has value. Your love has value. Your ideas have value. Your dreams have value. Your anger and your sad and your grumpy have value. No one should ever treat you as though you are not valuable, including you.” This will be especially good when she’s telling herself bad things about herself, as I sometimes still do.
“Invest time in learning critical thinking.”
“To know that following “the rules” will not keep her “safe,” so she must follow her own internal knowing, happiness, ethics, and standards.” And also, “Protect yourself in whatever form with whatever tools you require.”
“Always have a Plan B, C, D, and so on. Things don’t always go according to even our most carefully thought out, eyes-wide-open plans.”
“Not everyone who comes into your life is meant to stay.” And. “The people you will encounter during your life each serve a purpose – some will inspire, some will be a cautionary tale. Know and appreciate the difference.”
“Stand up for the other girls who may not YET be strong enough to stand up for themselves.” Knowing how bad bullies are, I don’t want her to be one of them. And also. “Words have consequences but so does silence. Speak up if you think something needs said! Don’t ever feel like your voice doesn’t matter!” Finally, “There are amazing and truly good people in this world. Continue to be one of them.”
“Your body is yours, and it doesn’t matter how you dress or act, nobody has the right to touch you or do things to you without permission.”
“People are definitely going to say/do bad things. You don’t have to accept it.”
“Learn boundaries and never apologize for them.”
“You do not have to have it all figured out by age 21.” How I wish I had known this! Forget what the movies show you!
Did you raise daughters? What lessons did you make sure to teach them?