*warning for strong language*
But we need to teach our daughters to be more assertive. What do I mean by this? I’ll explain further below.
First of all, do you think there are fundamental differences between women and men; besides the obvious physical appearances? Better yet, do you recognize the differences? Many times there are comparisons between men and women at work. If a man is assertive with his co-workers or buddies or calls them names, it’s accepted and laughed off and the men are still generally collegial to one another. If a woman is assertive at work or with her friends, she is a bitch. Men who choose to sleep with random women are congratulated or revered, while women are put down and called sluts and whores.
What is it in our genetic DNA as WOMEN that causes us to be silent? Granted not all women are this way, but so, so many are and it saddens me. (further elaboration to come – I promise) I’ve been faced with a few situations recently that have put it right in my face and I’m angry. I’m partly angry at myself, because as the mother of a girl, maybe I haven’t done enough to teach my daughter to be more assertive. I’ve told her to respect herself, respect her body, and not to tolerate bad friends. I haven’t taught her what to do if someone crosses those lines, breeches those walls. What should she do then? Should she remain silent? HELL NO.
Women in abusive relationships…keep quiet…because why? WHY? They don’t want to rock the boat? WHY THE HELL NOT? Because they’re afraid? Afraid of what? Afraid of the aftermath? Afraid of judgment? Afraid someone will think they deserved it, or it was their fault? Many women who have been molested or violated in a sexual manner as children don’t speak up. Why not? Are they afraid of being blamed? Afraid no one will believe them? WHY do they not speak up? We need to find out, and we need to fix this!
These thoughts have been swirling in my head for a few weeks or so now, in their own little vortex of word vomit, never completely coming to fruition. It started as a blog post about teaching our girls and young women and older women too, that we don’t need a man to be happy. We need to be happy with ourselves. When I got divorced, one of the things I started to do was living “as if” … as IF everything was ok, what would I do if I could just do it? Jump out of a plane? Maybe. Start skating? Perhaps. Break out of my shell and do things for me, things that made me happy. I was not identified as Mrs. XYZ any longer, I was April. WHO is April and what does she represent? Having been in a relationship since I was insanely too young, I needed to find who I was.
I dated a few people after my divorce, people who were definitely not right for me. But I learned something from them. And I learned more about me. I’m dating a really wonderful man right now, and he makes me extremely happy. Even so, he doesn’t define who I am. I don’t know if realizing this is something that comes with age or what?
So back to our girls and what we need to be teaching them… I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to my Peanut that NO ONE has a right to touch her in any way, shape or form that she isn’t comfortable with. I’m not completely naïve and I know that she will date a boy long before I’m really ready for her to. But I’ve always said to her that NO ONE has a right to touch her in any inappropriate and unwelcome way. I never taught her what to do if someone DID though. I failed my daughter. I never taught her that she was perfectly within her rights as a person to bitch slap that son of a bitch if he put his hands on her in any unwelcome way. Or that sometimes, consequences be damned, you defend yourself against wrongs.
How many rapes go unreported because women were scared to come forward? How many children are repeatedly abused because they’re scared to tell their parents? How many children have been touched inappropriately by another adult, and were scared to tell their parents? How is it that women feel they will be blamed because of how they handle a situation or that somehow they’re at fault for allowing it to happen to them?
We need to change this perception that girls shouldn’t stick up for themselves because they might get in trouble. We want our girls to be perfect little angels, and while good behavior is what I desire, I’d much rather back my child up for defending herself against something wrong … than have her put up with things and just “deal” because someone overstepped a line, and she didn’t want to rock the boat or get in trouble. We need to stop associating shame with these things – abuse, rape, unwelcome touching or groping. These young women need to know they’re well within their rights to defend their bodies, and that they shouldn’t be afraid to tell someone if they have been violated.