Friday, June 27, 2014

The First Time We Had That Talk

A couple of days ago, Laney and I were walking down the street holding hands.  I feel very fortunate to have a 5'3" almost 11 year old daughter who will still hold my hand.  We were shooting the breeze.  I may have been feigning interest in Minecraft (ohmigod, Minecraft is so boring to the uninitiated) when a passing motorist mistook us for a lesbian couple and catcalled us as he sped past at 30 MPH.

And thus it begins.

Laney is one of those kids fundamentally uninterested in growing up.  She really likes being a kid.  On the one hand, this is a huge relief; how sad it is to rush into adulthood and not savor, just a bit, the wonder of childhood.  On the other hand, I have to talk to her about things I don't want to talk to her about yet.  Because she's still a little girl.

And it pisses me off that we still live in a world where we have to brace our girls, at such a young age, for the assaults that are surely coming.

Recently, my 24 year old cousin posted on Facebook about an incident wherein a couple of horrible excuses for human beings catcalled her at a bus stop and then told her she was "asking for it" for wearing leggings home from the gym. My husband, whom I guaran-damn-tee, has never shouted nasty shit at a girl or woman from a car, read it and said it me "I've known guys who say gross stuff about girls, but never anyone who would..." And then I told him that almost every woman he knows has heard something like that. And it's likely that the guys who say gross stuff when it's just the guys are the same guys yelling scary stuff from car windows.  If he hears some guy saying gross stuff about girls when it's just the guys, he should speak up.

It both surprises and doesn't surprise me that the nice, decent, strong, kind man who is my daughter's father was surprised by an event that is so unsurprising to most women.

So today when I talked to Laney about what happened on our walk, I told her that men and boys would likely soon start saying stuff to her but she should always remember, that even though it will happen, it shouldn't happen.

This is important: It. Is. Wrong.

The act of having breasts in America is not an open invitation to leers and catcalls. And when it happens to her (and, goddammit all to hell, it WILL happen to her and that just shatters my heart into a million pieces) she should try her best to not feel exposed and guilty and instead she should just let herself be goddamn fucking pissed about it.  It should piss her off.  It should piss us all off.

I spent a lot of years questioning my presentation.  Why was I inviting this? I had to hit middle age before I started to realize that my training was fucked up.  I wasn't inviting anything. And I had every right to be mad about it.

Oh, lord, how I hope I'm teaching my girl to get mad instead of ashamed.

That was the last thing I said to Laney when we were having this sad, way-too-soon conversation: You are a fully-realized person.  You deserve to be treated like a person.  And if someone doesn't, let him fucking know.  Get. Mad.

My 10 year old daughter got catcalled.  This should make us all mad.