I think if we haven’t started already, we need to begin to listen to our words and how we show up in the world. We need to think before we speak. For example, we should think about these things before we say them: Is what I am about to say a fact? Do I know this person? Is this my business? Have I tried to see their perspective? Do I think I am being helpful or am I being judgemental?
I recently had a conversation with a woman who said that as a young woman, she wished she could cut off her breasts. I said, “Wow! Why did you want to do that?” “Because of all the unwanted attention from men.” she replied.
MEN, it is your responsibility to treat women and girls with respect. I also had unwanted attention, but it taught me that I was a tool, there for men’s benefit. I was supposed to be pretty and make them happy, It didn’t matter if I didn’t want what they wanted. I myself, pushed my femininity away and wished to be a boy for many years. For me, I could see that men had so much more power in the world and many more opportunities. Women, in general, have to try so much harder to get less.
Then, another woman enjoyed the attention when she was a young woman. But, was it good for her to be 15 or 16 and having 40 somethings leering at her? It is a man’s responsibility to not take advantage of the naivety of young girls and women.
A parent, teacher or other adult might say something to a child or young person and forget about it in minutes or days. It may change the course of the child’s life, for good or bad. I have heard stories of when a woman talks as an adult to the molester and they say, “That was so long ago, why are you bringing that up now?” I’m here to tell you, that child who is now an adult, lives with it every day. The abuser may have forgotten about it decades ago, but the abused faces it’s effects every day.
Growing up in my house, teasing meant you were loved. When I began to get curves, my Dad began to call me lard ass. He thought it was funny. I was horrified. I began to diet, and ate so little that my parents began to get worried I would be anorexic. He didn’t think it was funny after that. My whole life I have thought I was fat and disgusting from being called that. For him, he was just being silly. If we dig a bit deeper, he probably was getting uncomfortable with his little girl growing up.
What I am trying to get at, is something that seems silly or small to us, may not be to young impressionable minds. We need to think before we talk. Or act. We need to be responsible. Even for the young girl that liked the attention. When men treat us like sex objects, we objectify ourselves and don’t give ourselves much value beyond that.