Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Growing Up Girl: #YesAllWomen

With the tragedies in Isla Vista this past weekend an enduring moment seems to be a twitter-feed labeled #YesAllWomen.

I'm sure you haven't managed to avoid the coverage of the story, but a brief rundown amounts to a 22 year old boy feeling slighted by all women because he is still a virgin in college.  Therefore he murders his roommates, and then takes to the streets and kills murders several more people.

I typically try to avoid hearing/reading/listening to all the coverage about gory and violent things on the internet.  I know people who live in and around UCSB, and working at UCLA has certainly made it part of our day as we returned to work.

Beyond the obvious tragedy, I've been shocked by the #YesAllWomen hashtag feed.  First that women felt the need to create a place to respond to this tragedy in this way, and show the world how prevalent these ideas are.  But beyond that, the worry that someday my own daughter might be posting to that hashtag about her own experiences.

I was a virgin until I was with Working Dad.  No, that doesn't mean I was a virgin when I got married, but I've only ever been with the man I married- the father to my children, and the light of my soul.  I honestly do believe that he is my B'Sheret, and the person that I am ultimately tied to.

But before I was with him there were lots of guys I dated.  And lots of guys who wanted to do things with me that I didn't want.  There was a moment in my life when I experienced a physical act that I didn't consent to.  I wasn't raped, but I was definitely sexually assaulted.  And it was horrible.  And I remember the reactions of friends and family members being less than ideal.  Except Working Dad.  He was there for me- as he was countless times throughout my life, and as he will be countless more times throughout my life.

Reading through the hashtag makes me nervous.

About Growing Up Girl in today's society.  How do I protect my little EG from these horrible ideas?  That she would be better off yelling 'Fire' if she needs help rather than help (@Carrie K.)  That giving out a fake phone number or telling someone she has a boyfriend are good lies to help protect herself (@katekilla & @JBRylah)

I didn't tell these men before I dated them that I was saving myself for marriage.  I didn't think I was.  I didn't tell them that we could go out on dates, and make-out and get close, and that they would never 'close the deal.'

I remember one boy telling me that he hated me because he got an STD test for me because I said that we definitely wouldn't be having sex if I didn't know both he and I had clean bills of health.  Did that mean I was going to sleep with him?  I didn't think so, but being prepared isn't a bad thing...

I certainly didn't think that the boy I got the herpes vaccine for was the one.  But I got the vaccine anyways, because I didn't want to be worried about it if the time came (it didn't.)  I didn't blame him for the pain, nor did I feel pent-up anger and frustration when it was actually he who ended it.  I finished the shots and was thankful that I was protected against one more STD and cervical cancer.

So what do I do about my little 2-year old?  Turn her into a liar?  I always told my parents the truth, sometimes regardless of how they would feel about it.  I never lied about spending the night at a boys place- these were choices I made, and I thought it was better to be on the 'up and up' rather than going behind their backs. 

How do I teach her that it's okay to reject someone?  That it's okay to say 'I'm not interested' without worrying about a stalker or a rampaging murderer?

Maybe I'm worrying about it too soon, but how do you help a 2 year old turn into a teenager who turns into an adult?

I want my sassy little girl to be empowered.  To have grit.  To know that her views, and her feelings matter, and that she doesn't have to be afraid- whether it's 2am or it's 4:30 in the afternoon. 

Of course, I used to call my Dad from Pittsburgh at 2am on the walk home.  Somehow I was comforted that he was there with me.  In my lame brain I thought if something happened he would be able to call 911 (which is actually totally ludicrous!)  I took part in my campuses semester safety walks, where the Dean of Students and the Head of Facilities would walk with interested students around the campus and give let us give inputs about where new lights and emergency telephones should  be.  I was proactive.

What do I do when she moves from pretending to do something, to actually doing it?  To setting her free in the world?

See my other posts in this series:  Growing up Girl: I can't do it, Growing Up Girl

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...