They are threats and barbs and put downs and intimidation tactics and insults. They made me feel frightened and nervous and panicky and anxious and uneasy.
Should I be tougher? Should I ensure my daughter is tough enough to handle these itty bitty little words?
So, I wonder, when my daughter looks in the mirror, will she hear my voice saying she is beautiful on the inside and out, or will she choose to purge her last meal? When a young girl ostracizes her on social media, will her father’s words ring in her ears, reminding her of her strength, or will she choose to cut her skin to deal with the pain? When a boy pressures her to move forward too quickly, will she remember her worth or succumb to peer pressure?
I looked at the carefully posed photos of the gorgeous women who appeared in all colors, shapes and sizes, highlighting their beautiful bodies with captions of #mermaidthighs scripted underneath. It made me wonder: “Do my girls need to identify with a thigh trend to feel body confident? Can bodies even be a trend?”
We keep telling our girls that they can do anything and be anything, but the cold reality is they can’t. Women are constantly in sexual danger, and it limits our potential. Until we change the conversation from who gets raped to who commits rapes, the “Rape Culture” in our society lives on.
I’ve been struggling lately. The way I parented my “little girls” does not seem to be working with my tween-agers. I’ve used every tool in my toolbox, and I often still come up short of feeling like I know what I’m doing.
When we tell our daughters consistently that girls are jealous of them, we are perpetuating a stereotype we’ve lived for too long. While insecurity is still a major problem — and the main reason for the “Mommy Wars” — jealousy should not be the go-to excuse in our feminist toolbox. Instead, we need to teach our kids how to navigate difficult relationships and improve communication as opposed to merely writing off behavior as a jealous rage.
I want the village in my kids’ lives. In fact, I need the village, and not just for car pools. I wish for female role models who work outside the home to interact with my girls on a regular basis, so they can know their potential is limitless; I want my kids to play with families where the dad stays home so they can see there are no pre-determined roles; I hope if my kids are doing something bad, someone will stand up to them to course correct if I’m not there; and I need people to be brave enough to tell me if my daughters get themselves in a dangerous situation.
And if I desire all these things, then I have to be open enough to accept the village, even those in it who I don’t agree with about everything. Even those whose perspectives are different. Even those who send my kids home from the park when I’m trying to make dinner.
It’s not that I think she will always be this way. I know she will grow out of some of it. And it’s not that I fret that she is immature or overly dramatic. She is a tween right now in the throes of hormones, so I understand the dynamic.
But I do worry about her mental toughness, her ability to make rational decisions in times of trial and tribulation, and in today’s world, you need to be more than just strong. You need to be a survivor.
Decisions are made in moments, Mr. Turner.
And that’s why you are wrong. Your son didn’t ruin his life during the twenty minutes he spent raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. He destroyed his life – and the lives of his victim, her family and her boyfriend — when he made the split-second decision to pursue a woman so intoxicated she could not speak or even stand on her own.
I’m sorry, young mom. I blew it. I am just so jealous of what you are about to experience that I forgot how hard it was, too. What you saw were your two children disturbing the peace. What I saw were beautiful memories hanging on to a red shopping cart.