Like you, I’m outraged over the sentencing of sexual attacker Brock Turner.
But I’m not surprised by it.
I grew up as a female, so I am well aware of the challenges that presents. I went to college and I saw the young men who preyed on intoxicated young women. I developed a thick skin and a sixth sense for danger. If that sounds harsh, well, that’s because it is.
Here’s the thing. While I feel like a stronger person for making it through the challenging years of adolescence and young adulthood, I don’t want my daughters to have to “survive” those same experiences. So I’ve started working to protect them and teach them to protect themselves now.
You think when your daughters are young that you have years before you need to worry. You think that you have plenty of time to prepare for those tough talks. But you’d be wrong.
The social phenomena known as “rape culture” affects our daughters at a very young age. Younger than I would have ever imagined, before I became a mother and saw it first-hand.
Rape culture is when my daughter is punished at school for a playground altercation with a boy, while he gets off on the age old excuse “boys will be boys.”
Rape culture is when girls are made to feel guilty for not wanting to reciprocate shows of physical affection.
Rape culture is when a doll aimed at pre-teen girls wears a crop-top, a diamond in her belly-button, a full face of make-up, and pants that can be removed to reveal sparkly panties (WHY?!)
Once you open your eyes to it, you’ll see everywhere how girls are trained to suppress their voice and accept that their bodies are not quite their own. You’ll see how society tells them that it is natural for boys to want to have their way with them and that most of the time it’s “not that bad” and can be tolerated.
So how do we protect our girls?
Most importantly, allow your girls to have a voice. You might not always agree with what they have to say, but they have a right to say it. If we encourage our daughters to speak up and speak their mind, they develop their greatest weapon against sexual assault.
Second, you’ve got to get real with your daughters. It might seem unnecessary to mention to a seven-year-old that no one is allowed to touch her if it makes her uncomfortable, but I promise you that these are words she needs to hear. When society at large is telling your girls that their bodies are (literally) up for grabs, they need to have that voice of reason in their heads to remind them that they are right in saying “NO.”
Until Society Protects our Girls Too…
Some days I feel overwhelmed as a mom and sad that I have to take such measures to keep my daughters safe. Some days I worry because I can’t be there to protect them at every moment. Perhaps you have these feelings too.
On those days I remind myself that I am there to protect my daughters wherever they go because I am giving them the tools they need to do it themselves. Until we reach the place as a society where we collectively protect our girls, then this is what we as parents must do.
No Trespassing – This is my Body! This book is written for kids and is an excellent conversation starter about boundaries and acceptable vs. not acceptable touching.