We live in a culture where we are often told, as women, to be seen and not heard. While no one has actually used those words (lately), our conditioning STRONGLY implies it.
How so Christina?
This past week my youngest daughter had an incident at school where two little boys used very inappropriate language with her.
ESPECIALLY since they’re all only 5!
When Kalani first said “Paul and Michael used inappropriate words to me today” (no, those aren’t their real names) I asked what they said.
“You’re so cute. You’re SEXY!”
“Your VAGINA is SEXY!”
Obviously, I got angry. I was angry that at only 5 years old she was already dealing with the massive amounts of shit that gets flung our way as women. I asked if she told her teacher and when she said she had I asked what the response was. I’m happy to say that it was a completely appropriate resolution.
So then why are you writing this blog?
Because when she told me I started to remember. I had flashes of all my conditioning and while I’m grateful Kalani doesn’t suffer from this I felt charged to SPREAD THIS MESSAGE.
- It IS a Big Deal
What in high heaven does a 5 year old know about being sexy?!!? Secondly, why in the ENTIRE hell are you talking about her vagina? *sigh*
Let me be clear, I’m certain they’re just repeating something they’ve heard or seen and that’s why some of your reactions are probably:
“Oh, that’s such an innocent thing. It’s not that big of a deal. They just don’t know any better.”
My response to you:
Don’t tell me, or my daughter, that she has to be “understanding” of some little boy’s oopsie because he just doesn’t “know any better.”
We have parents, teachers, community, etc to TEACH them better. But if the message we send to our girls is “it’s not that big of a deal” then when is anyone challenged to actually DO that teaching? Who even knows they need to?
I mentioned remembering; as I mulled over her experience I began to recall my own.
I remembered being in the 6th grade and a little boy using language with me that bothered me. I remembered that initially I felt like I should just let it go. I remembered being encouraged by only one or two girls to talk to the school counselor. I remembered how when the boys suffered the consequences for their words I was alienated and made to feel like I was somehow in the wrong. I remembered being told “they were just joking” and that I was a “snitch” that made a “big deal out of nothing.”
Then I started to remember how as an adult I had more than one co-worker that felt like he could say anything as long as he hit me with the LOL afterward.
That shit only works in texts!
I also remember letting most of it go. Not bringing it up to HR. Not responding because “they were just joking” and I didn’t want to make a “big deal out of it.”
I’m so grateful that my daughter knew well enough to call a spade a spade. And to make her feelings known. I’m so grateful that her administration made sure that her concerns were addressed and showed her, through their actions, that any form of conversation that made her feel uncomfortable would be appropriately responded to. I’m grateful she was made to feel safe, in that moment, to express herself.
I’m most grateful that never once was she explicitly or implicitly told to just dismiss what they said and how it made her feel for the sake of not making waves.
- My Body ISN’T Your Party; Ciara Lied!
You don’t have a license to say and do whatever you want in regards to us as women just because no one told you any better.
Stop excusing poor behavior. CALL THAT SHIT OUT!
A year ago I was out with my husband at a particular 90’s style spot I like (I’m oldER; pining for the things of yesterday! LoL) and some drunk guy felt like he had the right to reach out and touch my butt as I walked by.
Ladies, we’ve all fallen victim to the brush of the booty right? Well this was a palm grab. Thank God Chris hadn’t seen. This story wouldn’t end the same way if he had.
22 year old Christina would have just rolled her eyes and kept walking; making excuses for his poor behavior, “he’s drunk….my butt is looking kinda nice though!” Giving him permission, through my silence, to violate me.
But that night!…….That night I chose to reach out and touch him back! He IMMEDIATELY apologized. That means, he KNEW he was wrong!
So why do it?! smh
But he only acknowledged the wrong when I …..CALLED HIM OUT ON THAT SHIT!
People don’t have a right to you, your personal space, or your dignity just because they think it’s okay.
My daughters will know this. My sons will practice it.
- You Have a Responsibility
After my incident in 6th grade one of the boys made me feel like I was awful for having done this to him. (really dude?) But the other boy apologized. He told me he didn’t mean to make me feel that way and he was sorry he had.
Be that second boy’s parent.
Be the parent that raises your boys to know that not everything they see mommy and daddy do is appropriate to do with little girls at school. Be the parent that teaches your boys that respecting a girl is more important than getting a good laugh in. Be the parent that understands it’s better to have this conversation when they’re 5 than to wonder why they felt entitled to a young ladies body at 18.
Be the parent that teaches your girls to be bad ass intellects that speak their truth. Be the parent that teaches your girls to hold boys to a higher standard. Be the parent that teaches your girls that their bodies belong to them and no one else unless THEY so choose. Be the parent that teaches your girls that they don’t have to accept disrespect from ANYONE (including you; another blog, another day).
Be the parent that teaches your little girls that speaking out against a violation of their dignity isn’t them MAKING a big deal. But that a violation IS a big deal!
Love you guys!
Believing for your limitless lives. #limitlesslife