Recently, there was a story in my city about a woman that was sexually assaulted while at work. She was a real estate agent who was at an open house by herself, and a man came in and took advantage of her. Thankfully, she was able to fight off her attacker, but I can only imagine the lingering scars she will have to live through for some time.
Sadly, this is not the first instance.
Or the last. I wrote that paragraph a few weeks ago. Since then, there have been more news headlines of women being attacked, beaten by their partners, raped, murdered.
I find myself asking, almost weekly: Why?
Why can’t a woman go to work, or take her kids to the park, or go to a party, or go for a run while listening to music, or walk to her car, or enjoy a walk through a forest, or ride the bus, without looking over her shoulder? Why can’t a woman go to bed without wondering how she would fight off an attacker, should one break in while she is sleeping? Why should women walk to their car with their house keys poking through their fist as a makeshift weapon?
Why should women be taught to be the ones on alert like it’s a sixth sense?
How do we change this? I don’t want to claim to have all the answers, but I might have some ideas. Ready? Here goes:
Let’s teach our little ones, especially our boys, how to really treat a woman.
How is that? Easy: like a human.
Let’s continue to tell them, and show them, that girls have worth. That they are not mere playthings or property. Let’s show them that women are partners and equals. Yes, let’s teach them to open doors for ladies, stick up for, and never hit, girls. (Aren’t those also ways we would like them to treat everyone though?)
I believe we also need to teach our little ones that they are not simply entitled to everything they want. Cause you know what? Sometimes you can’t have it. That includes our fellow human beings.
I don’t know – my kids are just 6 and 3 at the moment. My mind is at the place of what I can teach them now, today, in this moment, that just might make a difference for when they become young men. Because, when they are men, teaching them then will be too late. Right now, that includes the following:
If our sons tell my husband or me to stop tickling them, we stop.
If they tell us they don’t want to talk right now, we wait until they’re ready.
If they tell us they don’t want a hug or kiss, we don’t force them to receive it from us.
Sometimes, we tell them no, because the world will not always say yes to them.
(Hey, I know we are not perfect parents. Life is a series of trial, errors, and sorry’s. We are trying our best and learning as we go)
Years ago, I read an article written by Trisha Baptie on SheLoves Magazine. In it, she writes of how she teaches her son to see the world from a woman’s perspective.
As I read the article, I had some ‘me too’ moments as I thought back to the times (as a teenager) I had been humiliatingly catcalled, whistled at, or honked at, from passing cars or porches as I walked down streets. The times I was leered at by male passersby, or simply stared at as I walked passed a crowd of guys. These instances made me feel uncomfortable, unsafe, and vulnerable. This is merely a Lite version of what some women and girls experience and feel.
“May my son be a man who lives life profoundly aware of the space he takes up in the world and what he can do to make women feel safer in it.” -Trisha Baptie
That right there is my prayer. I pray that my sons grow up aware of how women feel, of what their world looks like; that it is not always the same world they live in.
And, in turn, if one day my sons have sons of their own, they will teach them these same things.
And if some day my grandchildren have sons, they will teach them, too.
And so on.
And so on.
And so on.