Talking to Teens About "Me Too"
Talking to Teens About “Me Too”

I have been torn with the recent “Me Too” movement.  On one hand, I am overjoyed that women are being empowered to take a stand against sexual discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.  Every woman I know has her own story to tell.  Many like myself, unfortunately have many stories to tell.  This is NOT a world I want my daughter to grow up in.  I want her to feel safe, safe at school, safe at her job, safe walking down the street.  I believe that the right to feel safe is an inalienable right.  I don’t want her to have to live in a world where it is normal for a woman to have to put up with indecent or unlawful behavior.  I have put up with both my whole life as have my mother and grandmothers.  I believed that blatant and sometimes aggressive sexual behavior from men was something women just had to put up with.

Not only have we women been conditioned to accept the discrimination and assault but to add insult to injury, women are then blamed for the male aggression.  Even in this day and age, women are routinely questioned about their supposedly provocative behavior or clothing when coming forward for justice.   THIS is why I am grateful for so many brave women coming forward recently.  I truly hope it will help not only my daughter, but everyone’s daughter.

One the other hand, while it is easy for me to say to myself how rotten men can be, I stop short.  I have three sons.  Surely they are not like other men.  I hope I have raised them well.  I hope I have raised them to respect women.  I’ve done my best to teach them that women are human beings.  We deserve to be treated as intelligent.  We deserve to be treated as competent.  We deserve common curtsey.  We do not deserve to be treated as sex objects, like nothing more than a piece of ass.  We do not deserve to be groped.  We do not deserve to be intimidated.  We do not deserve to be coerced.  We do not deserve to be shamed.  It’s not that hard.  And it’s really not a lot to ask.  I’ve told them, if in doubt, remember that every woman is a mother, or a daughter, or a sister.  Treat all women with the same respect that you would for me or your sister.

I am hopeful that the days when women were assaulted and shamed into silence are in the past. I am hopeful that educating my kids about “Me Too” will change the status quo.  I am hoping that my daughter will be successful in her career because she is brilliant and a damn hard worker.  I hope she will be paid the same as her male colleagues.  I hope she will never be pressured into something she doesn’t want to do just to advance her career or worse, she is fired or demoted because she does say no.  And for my boys,  I hope that I have taught them to treat all women as equals, especially in the workplace. I hope I have adequately taught them when it is appropriate to pursue a sexual relationship and when they do that they realize that no means no. None of this is easy to talk about with my kids.  I wish I didn’t need to have these conversations.  In a perfect world there would be no need, but of course this world is not perfect,  My hope is that we all have these difficult conversations.  I hope that we will change things for our children and their children and that someday, the notion of sexual discrimination, harassment, and abuse will seem utterly foreign and incomprehensible.

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