My 18 year-old daughter told me a few months ago that when she was in middle school, boys routinely groped and pinched her butt.
Why didn’t you tell me?!
Because I thought that was just the way things are. But don’t worry mama, I’m woke now. I’m a strong independent black woman.**
I stared at this beautiful, strong, young woman in front of me. What else did she have to tolerate? We talk about this often — I’m obsessed with raising badass daughters who will not take shit from men.
Don’t just tell them off. Educate them. And always make them know they can’t fuck with you.
We discuss different ways to explain to men that women are humans not objects. We share ideas on how to get out of shitty situations, how to avoid them, and how to convert their male friends into feminists. Just like their father.
Last year, my 14 year-old goddess stood up to teachers regarding the school dress code, accused them of body-shaming girls and sending conflicting messages. Be strong and confident, they tell girls, but here’s a long list of what you can’t wear. Enforcement is random depending on a girl’s body shape and size. My long-legged goddess got dress-coded many times last year.
If what I wear makes me feel beautiful and proud why do I have to change the way I dress? Why can’t they punish the boys who grope my butt?
Wear whatever the hell you want, my goddess. Be proud.
I usually deftly deflect crude invitations, comments, leers and catcalls. Like a chef wielding a knife. I generally ignore the whistles and kissy sounds, but I can be cruel to the shitheads. I’m never intimidated. My daughters think I’m the #1 badass, and I’m a hard act to follow.
But 30 years ago I was a vulnerable 19 year-old college student half a world away from home. I was very naïve, and it pains me to remember, but it’s important not to forget.
So, my darling daughters, yes, I got roofied. But I was lucky, a friend helped me. I have been mentally and physically abused, and I was sexually assaulted multiple times. All by the same man, and it lasted more than a year. I thought I loved him and believed it was my fault. When it eventually ended, I crawled into a shell to heal. I emerged a few years later wiser, stronger, and opened my heart to true love and friendship. I was stronger and I was ready.
So charge forward my beauties. Put on your armor and build an army. I will join you and never leave. Be strong, calm and forceful with the assholes you will meet — fake it until you feel it. Don’t. Back. Down. And if you feel like crying, do it LATER.
One day, you too will raise badass daughters.