When I was pregnant and found out I was having a girl, I was excited but also terrified. Excited that I would be able to shop for pretty dresses and buy cute girly toys (though I may have bought some of them for my son too, but that’s another post). Excited that I could share some of my childhood with her.
Terrified that I would have to share some of my teenage and twenties years with her and terrified that she will most likely also have to deal with some of the crap that assholes (certain, but far too many men) think is ok to do to women.
I don’t want her to have to cross the road on her way to class to avoid the construction site like I often choose to do because if I walked passed I would get wolf whistles and cat called.
I don’t want her to feel unsafe and have to make sure she has a friend to walk home with after a university test that finished at 7pm like I did after I had a couple of guys grab me and hold me while they whispered something creepy in my ear, thankfully they just walked away afterwards. But even having a friend with me was not enough to stop the group of guys who thought it was funny to walk behind us calling us horrible names. In case you were wondering these things happened on well lit busy streets where there were other people within sight, nobody intervened.
I want her to be able to go out and dance at a club with her friends without getting gropped as she walks to the dance floor, have guys come up behind her and wrap themselves around her without warning and refuse to let go.
I don’t want her to have to have a friend she trusts hold her drink so she can go to the toilet, or choose not to drink at all.
I don’t want her to have to get a male friend to come rescue her from a conversation with a guy at the bar because saying “No, I am not interested” wasn’t been listened too and walking away just meant you got found again and again, even if you left that bar and went to another.
These are all things that have happened to me many times, along with lots of other things that made me feel scared and unsafe. The scary things is, that none of this stuff is unusual and I could almost guarantee that every woman in NZ (and many many other Countries) has experienced at least one of those things. Ask the women in your life if you don’t believe me.
In some ways I consider myself lucky, I have never been raped, never been beaten and I know many other people have been through much much worse.
This is NOT the world I want to bring up my children in.
In our house we have a rule if someone says ‘stop’ or ‘no’ or sounds upset. We all stop what we are doing, find out what’s wrong and don’t continue until everyone involved agrees to.
This includes, tickling, playing together, brushing hair, hugs and cuddles, bouncing on the trampoline, pushes on the swing… pretty much everything. In fact some days I think the sentence that comes out of my mouth the most is “I heard _______ say stop, that means we stop”.
I don’t know how to change the rest of the world though.