You want your daughter, friend, or sister to grow up empowered, right? You want her to be confident in her skin and capable of taking on the world. Independence is a crucial value we preach for the women in our lives to grow up successful without the help of a man.
Yet I still hear my dad’s blood boil when I share with him I went on a trip without informing him. As if living on my own, hundreds of miles away, doesn’t prove that I am a capable survivor. His argument? Anything could have happened where I traveled and he would have assumed I was home safely in my own apartment. As if any tragic event only happens when you’re away from home and didn’t leave a detailed itinerary.
I’m not ungrateful for the watchful eye, or overpowering sense of “protection” provided to me by the men in my life, but I have to think…when has it gone too far? When will I be “old enough” or “independent enough” to make everyday choices for myself without seeming permission by these men? Now you may be thinking.. Oh no, here’s another feminist angered by male dominance in politics, or a lower pay-grade but this isn’t about those big issues (which at the end of the day, are still big issues that need to be addressed), this is about walking home alone, wearing whatever the f*ck I want, and catching a train to a different city on the weekend because, well, there’s a cool marathon race I wanna see. I’m legally allowed to smoke and drink and sign up for the military, you’d think I’d be past the days of curfews and babysitters, but here we are.
“We live in a crazy world.”
Crazed with 1 in 3 women facing sexual assault in their lifetime, the uprise of terrorism, and the slut shaming culture that is thrown at you when you wear a short skirt to class or god forbid you let your bra straps be somewhat seen. The world can be pretty f*cked up, I’ll give you that…but when did that start meaning I’m supposed to hide away from it? Women just recently got their first few breaths of fresh, equality driven air from the box they have been confined in for centuries before, so why do we keep shoving our daughters back into the confinements of that same box once again?
Any act of terror or bullying or assault, you name it, can happen at any location, at any time. Rapists will not take only one female walking home, they could very well take two. Suicide bombers will not take a poll and only kill those living at the area they plan to bomb.
A gang will not stop themselves from mugging you just because you’re calling a friend to feel safer.
And here’s the big kicker, women can know how to fight. We aren’t defenseless blow up dolls that will just whither to the ground if hit. There are some men that can’t even fight but no one is advising them to stay home after 8 PM (only if they double-check their doors and windows are locked) and to always measure the tips of their fingers to the bottom of their shorts.
There may be hard lessons to learn and there will definitely be times we need our dad or brother or boyfriend to hold us during weak moments, without saying “I told you so”. Lessons have to be learned, sometimes the hard way, in order for us women to grow into ourselves and to be smarter than we once were.
We need to remember the progress we’ve started and empower girls to own their choices and be educated in the risks; not strip their choices from them, or deem what they should/shouldn’t be doing. Let her to be confident in her skin and capable of taking on the world. Let her grow up in a world where her choices matter and her ability to say “yes sir” is at par with the strength of her choice to say “no.” The world can be a f*cked up place, but we don’t have to give it the satisfaction of altering the progress we’ve made.
Collaboration with Gwen Poppe.