To the parents of girls: It’s not your job 

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It’s not your job to tell your daughters not to dress “too sexy.”

It’s not your job to warn your daughters about parties, drinking and hookup culture.

It’s not your job to teach your daughters to avoid walking alone at night.

It’s not your job to teach your daughters to avoid walking alone at anytime.

It’s not your job to tell your daughters to keep their heads down while using public transportation.

It’s not your job to encourage your daughters to say they are in a relationship to avoid unwanted attention.

It’s not your job to teach your daughters to ignore the cat calls.

It’s not your job to tell your daughters smiling or being friendly might be mistaken for wanting something sexual.

It’s not your job to give your daughters whistles, or mace, or a knife or a sharp set of keys.

It’s not your job to teach your daughters how not to get harassed or assaulted or raped.

For far too long we have made women and girls shoulder the burden for the inappropriate and often violent behavior some men inflict upon them.

Women are reminded from a young age of our status as victims, as prey in waiting. Whether it’s avoiding a street because someone tried to grab us there, or dancing in a group to better ward off jerks at the club, we spend so much of our time in this fight or flight mode.

I am a bit older. The cat calls have dwindled, I rarely go out and I am seldom alone at night in public. I am a mother, and, in many ways, my role his shifted.

I have two boys. Though they may be small, I often wonder what they will be like as teenagers and young adults. I think about some of the unfortunate encounters I have had with guys, and wonder, will my kids turn out that way?

I know parents are not to blame for everything which may go wrong with their kids. I know perfectly lovely parents can produce perfectly horrible children. Friends, society the media, etc., all play a role in shaping how our boys view and treat women.

I also acknowledge the vulnerability of young men in our world. The thought of anything happening to my sons makes me sick. I think the stigma against reporting sexual abuse toward men needs to end, and I will never dismiss or downplay anyone’s story, regardless of gender identity.

But, because women are more likely the victims of sexual assault, molestation, violence or domestic abuse, I want to do my part to encourage my fellow parents of boys to do more.

It’s our job to teach our sons that not only does “no means no,” but often “yes doesn’t mean yes.”

It’s our job to teach our sons to not look at a drunk girl as an easy target.

It’s our job to tell our sons that shouting things at women on the street, even if the words are “nice” is harassment.

It’s our job to tell our sons that nobody should be touched in any way unless they explicitly ask for it.

It’s our job to teach our sons that buying a woman gifts, taking her out to dinner or doing anything “special” for her, doesn’t mean she is required to return the favor sexually.

It’s our job to teach our sons that hair pulling, bra snapping and butt pinching is never funny.

It’s our job to tell our sons that their sexual reputation is less important than a woman’s worth.

It’s our job to teach our sons to not help their friends engage in harmful behavior toward women, or worse let their friends help them.

It’s our job to tell our sons that sharing private photos, bragging about conquests and slut-shaming perpetuate a culture that demeans and devalues their female counterparts.

It is our job to do better by our girls by doing better by our boys.

We have to put an end to this “boys will be boys” attitude about how our sons treat girls. We need to recognize the self entitlement we may have given them and how that shapes the way they view women. We can’t let girls and those who care for them shoulder the burden of their safety.

When I see one of those dad’s of daughter memes, you know, the ones with the dad threatening to kill any boy who dares to mess with their baby girl, I feel sad. I feel sad that even today, people feel like boys are still predators and girls are victims. I am angry that in many ways, this is still true. I am hurt that generation after generation goes by and nothing seems to change.

Well, that stops now.

My fellow parents of boys, let’s commit to doing more to raise better men. Let’s do this so their female friends, co-workers,  and family members no longer have to fear being sexually harassed or worse.

We have a responsibility to teach our sons to treat women better, so you don’t have to teach your daughter how to be safe.

It is our job.

 

10 thoughts on “To the parents of girls: It’s not your job 

  1. SaraCVT

    It may not be my job, but as the mother of teenage twin girls, I think I’ll give them the mace/whistle and advise them against walking alone anyway. The rest, I agree, not their responsibility, and they can express themselves how they choose when they’re adults. But I would feel so guilty if something happened to them and I felt I had not adequately protected them. I must warn them of possible scenarios and consequences, even if they are unfair and ridiculous ones. I remember all too clearly the wariness *I* felt in college, being alone, especially late at night.

    In fact, my husband of 21 years and I both dimly remember meeting 2 years earlier than we formally did, only it was late at night and we were alone together in an elevator. I was too scared to even LOOK at him.

    I hope nothing like this ever happens to my girls. It’s been years since anybody gave me that kind of unwelcome attention. I can’t say if that’s because that culture has diminished in our area or because I’m a surburban mom, but I suspect the latter. So I have to adequately prepare them for reality, even if that reality bites.

    Reply
    1. Maybe I'll Shower Today Post author

      Ah I didn’t finish this story before hitting publish! Hope you will re read and comment when I am finished

      Reply
  2. Maybe I'll Shower Today Post author

    Sorry forgot to finish. This post is more of a “wishful thinking” sort of essay. Meaning, I know you have to do all those things because that’s the world we live in. My point was to express the responsibility of those raising sons to teach them to be better. This way, you wouldn’t need to teach your girls how to be safe.

    Reply
  3. halfpintpartydesign

    This is a provocative article and one that needs to be shared. I am a mother to one daughter and two sons. I am teaching all three of my children about body safety. I’ll probably always give advice on how to act to be more safe. BUT I am also teaching respect, manners, and equality to them all as well. I agree that we should not have to worry that our daughter are safe. My sons will know how to respect women. My daughter will respect men and herself. But with the predators out there I want them ALL to be careful and protect one another.

    Reply
    1. Maybe I'll Shower Today Post author

      I hear you. I am definitely expressing some wishful thinking on my part. I don’t want people to have to teach these things, but I am aware of the reality. I’m hoping for better.

      Reply
  4. Stacie

    Three boys. I’m here as a mom of three men. They know. They absolutely know right from wrong. They darn well know stop don’t and please. This is a hot issue for me. My boys are 13, 9 & 3. They know. They also know it includes them – that their voice is as important. Sexual assault is real, it is scary and it doesn’t only happen to girls

    Reply
    1. Maybe I'll Shower Today Post author

      It is a sad reality. Sadly I think the culture that keeps women from speaking up has an effect on our boys as well.

      Reply
  5. livewellplaytogether

    This is an important article. I think it’s also important that we teach our boys and girls ways to be safe and to protect themselves while simultaneously teaching about respect and valuing others.

    Reply
  6. Laura

    It is my job to tell my boys and my girls to listen to their own instinct, stand up for their safety and wellbeing, as well as that of others. Not because they’re a girl or a boy, but because the world is full of wonderful things, but also danger.

    Reply

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