Dear daughters: I hope you never have to write #MeToo.
Daughters: #MeToo is trending on social media. My first reaction when seeing that on Facebook was an adamant, loud: “No, not my daughters.” No, not them. World, you can’t have them. Men, you can’t grab them. My hopeful hashtag is #notyoutwo. Two, not too, because you two beautiful girls are my focus.
Daughters, you are only seven and twelve-years-old, entering crucial years of development. I am sure this will be an uncomfortable topic, but I am compelled to tell you my #MeToo tale with the sincere hope that sexual assault or discrimination is not part of your story.
Daughters, my wish for you both is that a boy like “D.S.” doesn’t grab you at “your” third base just because he thinks he can. I hope if a boy (he and I were only 11) does that unwanted thing to you, you won’t stay silent like your mother did. I hope you kick him, yell at him, shame him. How dare any person just grab another. Why did D.S. have the audacity to do such a thing to me at such a young age? How, in 1984, did he know he could grab me and be free from the consequences? Had he grabbed other girls before me? Was he emboldened to repeat this assault after he was free to do it to me? And why did I feel so worthless? Why did I stay silent?
Daughters, the President of the United States has been recorded saying that it is okay to grab a woman by their pussy, especially if like him you are a rich, famous man. Dear daughters, even that word “pussy” can be a derogative term. Don’t let anyone call your anatomy a negative term. Own that word for yourself; own your own body. Know that it is yours and not “his.”
Daughters, maybe the president’s words emboldened that young man at your school to grab that young woman’s private area. Remember how angry I became when you told me about that incident? Remember how I told you that it was criminal behavior? You giggled uncomfortably. I was serious.
Daughters, you might not even know the person who grabs you. I was twenty-one, in Rhode Island, at an outdoor restaurant ordering a drink when a young man grabbed me “there.” Again, I was in shock. I silently turned around and walked back to my table — never telling my family that I was just assaulted. Later, I would tell your father. I was ashamed. I rationalized it — he was probably drunk. I even thought about the short dress that I was wearing.
Daughters, intoxication, and attire, however, have nothing to do with sexual assault. Ironically, sex has little to do with sexual assault or rape. It is actually about power. When D.S., or that boy at your school, or that unknown drunk young man in Rhode Island grabbed a female by her genitals it was not about attraction. No, it was about their pleasure in their ability to dominate women. Their actions are symptoms of a larger cultural issue and a perennial problem of women being perceived in limited ways. The president of the United States was elected even though he said it was okay to assault women. He dismissed his recorded comments as “locker-room talk.” No, unfortunately, we have not come that far in terms of equality of the sexes.
Daughters: always recognize that no one has the right to touch you without your consent. Your consent can always, at any time, be revoked.
Daughters, if it that ubiquitous sexual harassment-discrimination-assault-rape does happen to you, know that it is not okay. And, if you are a victim of sexual discrimination, harassment, assault or rape, I want you to tell me. Silence is the rejection of your power. I will be your bullhorn and your audience. I will scream: not these two, not these two!