From every direction I am being inundated with advice on how to raise my daughters and they all contradict each other and no matter what, I’m doing it wrong. The recent social media campaign #YesAllWomen was a tipping point for me. The gist of it is to raise awareness about violence against women, misogyny, sexism in general, and that, yes, all women experience this – often multiple times a day – and often at the hands of men they know. Of course, Twitter exploded with differing opinions on this. Not all men perpetrate crimes against women (which is what prompted the #YesAllWomen tag to be created), not all men are sexist. Not all men are rapists (date or otherwise). Poor, targeted men. How can they know what’s off limits and what’s not? To me, it’s personal for every woman. And while some may argue that might be confusing to men, my hope is that just like I’m trying to raise up smart, respectful women, boy moms are doing the same with their sons. For example, some women might not be offended by, say, Robin Thicke. And to me, that’s fine. I’m not going to tell them, “HEY! He’s objectifying you! Feel outrage! Feel violated! TAKE ACTION!” Why? Why should I do that? It’s not my job to tell other women how to feel. Isn’t that… not any better than what he’s doing? Isn’t that assuming I know better than them how to digest information? If I like a song like Blurred Lines (I dance my ass off to no fewer than a hundred questionably-lyric’ed songs — I’m a hustlah baby, I just want you to know.), am I objectifying myself? Am I teaching my daughters it’s okay and even expected that they be paraded around like dumb, pretty things? In my heart, the answer to that question is not unless I believe that crap myself. I don’t. I decide how I react to those songs. It’s fun to dance to and, um, yeah. That’s it. I don’t know why the models in that video chose to be in it, and it’s not my business. What is my business is teaching my daughters how to think for themselves. To practice respect (both self and otherwise), kindness, independence, and to be smart about their choices. If some guy cat calls my daughter, my hope is that her reaction is to be unaffected. That guy has no power over her or her self-worth. Why give it to him? Why care at all what he thinks? My youngest loves to dance. She’s three. Her style of dancing includes a lot of booty shaking. We always clap and cheer and, to be honest, admire her confidence and moves. But, should I be discouraging this behavior? What will PEOPLE THINK? Is she inviting the wrong type of attention? Again, for me, the answer is fuck that. If my daughter wants to dance (I mean, I hope she doesn’t twerk because, well, there are just so many better dances), then by all means, get out tha way. I am not about to teach her that expressing herself is wrong or dirty. Society does an excellent job of beating that into us already. Slut shaming anyone? I will, however, be realistic. My girls will know that, sadly, there are plenty of people (mostly men — again, REALISTIC) who might feel like they are entitled to them and their bodies. They will know that there are, unfortunately, repercussions to the way you dress, what you say, how you dance, alcohol consumption, and where you hang out. I want them to be safe, but I want them to live. I want my kids to know there are plenty of people who will blame them for someone else’s actions. “You asked for it by wearing that dress/putting your hair up/wearing makeup/painting your nails/dancing like that/walking alone/BREATHING.” That is some kind of bullshit, my friends, but it’s the reality of this world right now. And I don’t think teaching my daughters to “behave” is going to help change this reality. I think teaching them to own their bodies, thoughts, intelligence and choices might. Oh, and another thing I don’t buy into is the idea of not leading men on. I don’t think I should have to teach my daughters that if they say yes one time then the next time they can’t possibly expect their partner to understand that no means no. THAT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PARTNER THE END. I think it’s pretty obvious when a woman wants the session to end. If you are unsure, fellas, always side with YEP, SHE’S DONE. I don’t give a tiny rat’s ass about blue balls. I don’t. Of course, they will know what the risk is. OF COURSE. I don’t want them to be assaulted. But, that doesn’t make it right or ok. I don’t care how many times she’s been a consenting partner before. I don’t care what happened before she told you to back off. I don’t care if you’re buck nekkid and raring to go. Don’t. Care. No exceptions. What I’ve decided to run with is teaching my daughters about the realities and risks that come with being a woman, but not to let them dictate their lives. In short, shake away, little booties.
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