I remember my mom telling me that when she was pregnant with my brother and I, her mother asked “why would you bring children into this terrible world? Are you crazy?”. I used to think, “wow that is such an awful thing to say” but I totally get it now. The 80’s were a harsher time than the years my nanny grew up in. The world was not the same world she was used to. It was more dangerous, more cruel. It was drifting slowly away from everything it was founded upon. Someone must have put a motor on that sail boat because here in 2016, I am often scared to be living in this world.
And what scares me more than anything is raising a daughter in this world. I am charged with the responsibility of raising a lady in a society and culture that has become so perverse and vulgar. Where men see women as conquests. As prizes that God put on this earth to please them — because they are obviously the dominant gender (insert sarcasm here). This is not a feminist rant. This is not “woman power” post. This is real life. And I’ve dealt with it all the days of mine. I can remember things all the way back to middle school. The awkward years where everyone is going through the wonderful period of puberty. Where little girls begin to look like women and little boys begin to have manly feelings – but continue to act on them as little boys. Where it became “funny” and “cool” to talk about sex. Where those little boys used Sex Ed class as an invitation to make inappropriate comments to little girls. It continued all throughout high school. Where slightly less little boys made lists of the hottest girls in school and passed them around until it was known by all. It followed me to college where it seemed every boys’ ultimate syllabus included a hook up at the end of the night. Where you had to bring your own alcohol to parties because it was known that certain frats put roofies in their jungle juice. And it has continued into my “adult” life. Where whistles are made out windows as I pump my gas. Where winks are made and eyes linger where they shouldn’t. It even happened just yesterday. On a normal commute home, my train arrived at the final station. A middle-aged business man, dressed in a suit with his brief case sitting across from me stood up and said “after you ma’am”… I politely said “oh thank you”….BUT it didn’t stop there like it should have. As I walked by him into the aisle, he grabbed my arm and whispered into my ear “we all just like to watch you leave the train”. I can still hear his proud, disgusting snicker.
You know what ladies, chivalry IS dead. Along with respect, restraint and any sort of couth. And sure, I’m okay. They were just words. But it bothers me EVERY TIME. I get this sick feeling deep in my gut. With every wink, whistle and unwelcomed comment. I’ve been called a prude. I’ve been told to “lighten up”. I’ve been told, “it’s not that big of a deal. I’ve even been told ….”take it as a compliment, some girls wish guys would notice them like that.” Well you know what – I never ever want my daughter to take an inappropriate comment as a complement. I never want her to think that her beauty is measured by how many men whistle at her or how many turn their heads to catch a glance of her from behind.
And it is exactly this type of culture and “accepted behavior” that has led us to opening the newspaper and reading about a rape case at Stanford. Where a 23 year old girl was victimized while unconscious behind a dumpster. And in a court room it was her attacker that was turned into a victim. I can no longer listen to the news without thinking “what if this happened to my daughter?!?!”. That was the first thought that crossed my mind after reading about the tragedy that occurred. My heart and stomach sank. They are still sinking.
How do you raise a daughter in a world where she may have to defend herself if she were to ever be raped?? How do you raise a daughter in a world where all the fingers might be pointed at her as if her actions, her alcohol consumption, her outfit choice or her dance moves may be the reason she is attacked?
My mind wants to tell my daughter:
“P – please don’t get raped. Make sure you are always aware of your surroundings. If you do attend a party in college, I know it is a rite of passage, but please skip the alcohol. Think about what could happen if you push your limits too far. Think about what could happen if you do the unthinkable and get too drunk. Think about the boy who will see you with a cup in your hand and automatically think “wow, she must be a party animal. I may get lucky tonight.” Choose wisely the outfit you will wear to that party. Think about what invitation you may be sending to the boy across the room with that tight skirt. I know you’ll like the music at the party, but just stand on the side of the room. Think about what could happen if you let yourself dance. Think about what boy is watching or who may come join you and think your dance moves are best accompanied by their hands. Do not walk home from that party alone. Think about the boy that will not think you need escorted and protected until you reach your dorm safely. Think about the boy that will think you look lost and confused which means you’ll just be an easy target. Think, think, think, my sweet girl. Please don’t get raped. Because, heaven forbid it be by a privileged and talented white male. You may think there will be witnesses. You may think there shouldn’t even be a case. You may think that there is no way any of it could be your fault. But you will have to defend yourself. You will have to prove that it was not something you wanted. You will be in the wrong. Your morals and everything you stand for will suddenly be questioned. And in the end, justice will not be served. So please, please don’t get raped.”
But my heart screams: what is wrong with these boys?! Where are their parents – their fathers? Where are the men who are supposed to raise these boys to respect women? Why are our daughters to blame for the actions of immature men? Why is society seeking so hard to justify their actions? As if there is now a “cause” for rape. I can tell you what the CAUSE is – a rapist! When did the mindset change? Why are boys jumping at every opportunity to prey upon girls – instead of jumping at every opportunity to step in and protect them?
We as moms certainly cannot protect our children every minute of their lives. But we must fight for our daughters. And we must raise our little boys to fight for them too.