I warn you now, this is going to be a heavy post. I try to shy away from things that are going to be too heavy but with the newest revelations of sexual assault coming out of Hollywood, I felt a need to share.
As a woman, I have encountered my fair share of sexual harassment and assault. It feels so odd just mentioning it so nonchalant but I'm not focusing on that today. What I want to focus on is our daughters. If you have a daughter, you know that you want to lock them away in the tallest tower and throw away the key if that means protecting them. Maybe Rapunzel's parents were onto something after all. We all know that isn't practical though.
So if you have a daughter, how do you warn them about these unwanted advances? How do you tell them without scaring them? How do you tell her that sometimes a boy will grab your butt because his friends dared him to? And that this doesn't change just because they turn into men? How do you warn her that sometimes some boys won't hear your "no"? How do you warn her that some boys will lie to you and tell you that you are their world just to get what they want from you? How do you warn her that sometimes it will be grown men who supposed to know better? Sometimes men that you thought you could trust?
How do you warn your daughter that sometimes guys will think that your body, your personal, private naked body will be their personal looking ground when you didn't give them permission? How do you let her know that a simple laugh and a smile can be misconstrued as flirting? Or permission? How do you advise her to always be cautious, to never let your guard down? How do you warn her that boys...and grown men seem to think with one thing and that it causes them to do the dumbest things?
How do you warn her of all of these things without terrifying her for life? How do you tell her without making her afraid to emerge from the safety of her bedroom? Without making her afraid to even look a boy in the eye? It's a tricky task. I don't have all the answers. I tried to handle this mission gently and subtly. Sometimes being blunt and to the point when needed. I hope I did a good job, but I can't really know for sure. She hasn't locked herself in a tower yet, so that's a good sign.
I hope this world will change but I doubt it. I can only do my small part. I carefully, gently advise my daughter. But I also directly and bluntly direct my sons. I tell them about how to treat a woman and what things that are not okay. I hope it sticks. I hope they hear my words in the back of their minds for the rest of their lives. I'm trying to do the one thing I can do in this world and that is work on the young men that will soon leave my doors. We can teach our daughters all day to be on guard but if we're not stopping it with our sons then nothing will ever change.