You’ve likely noticed the #yesallwomen hashtag this past week– a movement to reveal yes, all women suffer sexual harassment. Yes, there’s a reason I quit my job at 17 without giving notice and reasons for the many times I jumped off a bus or subway a stop early and stopped running through Sugarhouse Park and refused to ever go out with that guy again, and, and, and… Every woman faces objectification, but it’s the job of every parent to teach our sons and daughters a better way.
The school counselor thought it might be fun for my friend’s gorgeous daughter, Becca, to serve as a teacher assistant for the football team. For Becca, walking into a classroom full of football players was not a happy surprise. The boys jostled her, made comments and got just a little too close. Just a few days into the term, Becca was grabbed from behind. Spinning, Becca grabbed the boy, took hold of both his shoulders and in front of the entire football team yelled, “If you ever grab my butt again, I’ll kick you where it counts.” The entire room, sat in stunned silence, then laughed at the bewildered culprit. All the boys kept their distance from then on and the offending boy couldn’t even look her in the face again.
Becca’s been well taught.
Let’s all teach our daughters to do the same: stand up for yourself, yell, tell somebody, and, yes, learn to kick a boy where it counts.
I think our culture has made some girls feel like they should be grateful for any sort of attention as a validation of their attractiveness. Let’s teach our girls to love and respect themselves, that true beauty lies within. And let’s be honest with our daughters: plenty of boys will want to kiss them and more, it’s not exactly a compliment.
Most importantly, let’s teach our boys to honor women.
Erik and I take this job very seriously. We’re raising five future husbands and fathers. Between the lot of them, they will interact with hundreds, thousands of women and girls. I want them to treat every one with not just respect, but reverence. The woman before them, whether she’s the checker at the grocery store or the cute girl walking down the hall is someone’s daughter, sister, mother, friend. She is God’s final and ultimate creation. She is sacred; even if she’s not acting like it at the time.
And so, we are careful what we watch, read, listen to. If we don’t think the things we watch/listen to/read influence our behavior, we are simply lying to ourselves. We read the movie reviews– never watch R rated ones, but are even more wary of the PG13 “romantic” comedies. Crude jokes and discussions or rating of girls’ bodies are never allowed in our home.
Last week, Hans was asked to speak for a few minutes about pornography and teenagers. First, he informed parents pornography is everywhere. It’s in the locker rooms, on the bus, at activities and even viewed during class on iPhones. Because of it’s prevalence, our kids need to be ruled by principles rather than restrictions. Hans said, “My parents don’t have very many rules; they just trust me to be a good kid” While he’s right– principles are more important than rules– and we do trust him to be a good kid, I think most people would think we have an extremely strict set of guidelines. I love that Hans has internalized the precepts and doesn’t feel restricted by his lack of smart phone, cable TV, iPad, video games rated over E7 (everyone aged 7 and up), personal computer, explicit songs, etc.
I’ve always found it interesting when we use ratings to protect young children and then offer a free for all later. Age simply means we can make our own choices, not that we should consume every offering at the table (and the garbage on the floor).
Every parent, every child can be part of the solution but we need to talk to our kids openly and often. Mary doesn’t want to discuss any of this, she just wants to be a little girl. But learning when to kick and when to yell is a skill every little girl (and woman) needs.