About a month ago, One of my coworkers complimented me on my hair—and then he quickly apologized, mentioned the #metoo movement, and we both just ended up laughing over the absurd awkwardness of it all.
When the hashtag first took over social media, I did a silent cheer, hoping things will be better for my daughter. Maybe, like—I’m guessing—80-90% of women, she won’t have her own list of gropes and lewd suggestions to add to her file of memories she wished she could forget. With all that’s in me, I pray she’s not one of those with a traumatizing addition to her list.
I hope she feels confident with how she is, inside and out.
But I also hope she doesn’t listen to all those voices that say it’s all about her, or about getting revenge on men for the sins of their ancestors. That’s not a fight for civil rights–it’s just a fight. I hope she realizes that men and women think differently, interpret things differently, and that our differences are not something to scoff at, but to consider. This is not inequality—its science.
I hope men treat her well no matter how she presents herself—and they should—but I hope she doesn’t feel so powerful in her right to dress immodestly that she forgets these things:
*Dressing is an expression, just like words, tone, and how we use them. People will interpret it how its most obviously presented. It’s a language in its own right. Although, to be fair, everyone has their own boundaries (cultural, religious, etc.) when it comes to where they draw the line on attire. I hope she also remembers that some women dress scantily because they’ve been raised thinking their only value lies in their appearance. Putting one another down will solve nothing.
*Manipulation is wrong, no matter how it’s clothed.
*Just because men may promote her/open more doors for her/listen to her more often if she dresses to please their flesh does not mean that’s how she should achieve her goals. If she wants to work her way to the top, I hope she indeed does it using the amazing work ethic I hope she’ll have, because that of all things is how women will gain more respect in the workplace.
*If she has a friend struggling with alcohol addiction, I hope she would be considerate enough not to leave wine bottles out when they come over. The same goes for any addict—porn included. Recent MRI scans show the same brain activity for porn addicts as those who are drug/alcohol addicts. This could be anyone we run into, which, according to recent statistics is a staggering amount. Would dressing more modestly be more sensitive to those struggling with visual stimulation, or do we go the way culture is going and ignore the humanness of others?
* I hope she interprets women’s equality as fairness, and not power to humiliate men, (say if he compliments her on something appropriate like a new hair-do). If men feel like they have to tip-toe around women, something’s wrong. At the same time, if a man treats her like a thing, I hope she walks away from him as fast as her steel-spiked combat boots will allow.
I heard an interesting story on the radio about a young teen who found himself in the company of a provocatively dressed woman. When his parent (I can’t remember if it was mom or dad) asked him what he thought about the way she presented herself he said something like, “It attracts the male in me, but not the man in me.”
This is what I hope for my son and daughter as they grow, that they will be so wise as to recognize the difference.
And if my daughter calls me in frustration with trying to find balance in it all, and wants to throw in the towel, I will (in hopes that my mind has not completely fuzzed over by this time) remind her that she can’t love/respect herself without it spilling over to others. You just can’t separate the two. Maybe that’s where we’ll find peace in this whole thing.