Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Me Too

You can tell her eyes are blue, even in a black and white picture.

But can you see her kindness? Her intelligence? Her compassion for others?

No. Because those are not things you can tell just by staring at her face. Those are things that come from within her soul.

She is my world and I plan on teaching her all of the beauty and heartache she may experience, being born a female in this world.

I worry about her because she will not grow up in the same world I did.

She will grow up in a world more perverted with sex and pornography being normalized.

And so I will start younger than my mother had to with me. I will make sure she knows that her worth is not based upon a number on a scale or a bra size or the shape of her face or the color of her eyes.

Because what I want more than anything is for her experiences to be different than mine, better than mine. I want her to have the self-esteem to say no and the knowledge to keep herself safe.

But it's sad that I even have to teach her these things. It's sad that we have to worry about safety and that we have to teach self-worth over and over again and hope it sticks.

Me too.

These are words you've most likely seen.

They've been on your Facebook news feed or you've seen them in articles recently.

After reading why my friends were posting this as their status, I knew I needed to join their voices.

I posted the status that I did for so many reasons. 

In high school, I had pretty low self-esteem. Attention from boys was my number one concern. And because of this, for the first three years of high school, I didn't say no when I felt uncomfortable. Luckily for me, the situations this placed me in were not as bad as they could've been but that doesn't mean they were non-existent.

And as a senior in high school, as my self-esteem started to rise a little, I said no for the first time that I can distinctly remember.  

I was sitting alone in a basement with a guy who I thought was my close friend. After a few minutes of talking, he leaned in and tried to kiss me but I pulled away and laughed a little. And then he tried it again {because that's apparently normal?!} and I verbally said, "No." but in a really kind voice. AND WHEN HE TRIED A THIRD TIME, I got pretty angry and fiery and I shoved him away and yelled, "No!" in his face, before running upstairs to be with the rest of our friends.

This rocked me for a while because I didn't understand why my polite "no" had been ignored. I didn't understand why it took me yelling at him and physically moving him for him to stop trying.

He was my friend. And I had trusted him before that moment.

And he betrayed that trust.

As an adult, I am so proud of 18-year-old Suzanne for shoving him away. I hope he learned as much from that experience as I did.

Sadly, what I learned is that I'm not always heard. I learned that sometimes the giggly "no" registers to the other person as "Not unless you work a little harder for it".

I didn't want him to work harder. I wanted him to stop. And he misread that---except it shouldn't have been misread. 

Because I used the word NO.

This was not the first time and it wouldn't be the last. But it was the most significant one in my memory.

Aside from this experience, I can remember a time in my life when I used to walk the 2-3 miles it took to get to work because I wanted to save money and get some exercise for my upcoming wedding. I remember how often a car would drive by and men would whistle in my direction or try to talk to me and I would ignore them.

I stopped walking because of how uncomfortable it made me.

They were never men my age. Always, always older. And I hated it so much that older men would find that appropriate or funny.

Because it wasn't.

So the "me too" campaign is personal. And I think it's something the majority of us can relate to.

We all want to be seen for more than what is on the outside.

I guess my hope is that we change.
My hope is that we continue to take a stand and say, "That's not right!" when we are put in positions that are uncomfortable and inappropriate.

Because I want better for the world my children are growing up in.

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