Things I Want My Daughters to Hear

Time for some serious grown up stuff.
I have been purposely rationing my news intake during my pregnancy. My husband insisted on it after finding me several times sobbing at the stories on the radio. Even still, some of it filters in, and it preys on my mind.
The hundreds of Nigerian girls abducted by Boko Haram. Among the 234 women and girls that were rescued by the Nigerian military in early May, at least 214 were pregnant after being repeatedly raped by their captors.
Isis has been reported to be using systematic violence against women and girls. In addition to the reports of girls being raped repeatedly and sold at auction, one girl was reported to have been burned alive because she refused to perform sex acts for her captor.
Stories come out of India of women being raped on public buses. Officials blame the girls for riding public transport alone.
I could allow myself to have a sigh of naive relief, thinking that all of this is happening half a world away.
But, then I hear news of a girl being gang raped. In public. In my home town. In front of hundreds of people. And not one fucker tried to stop it.
Over the last few years there’s been numerous stories of sexual violence on university campuses that were either not reported, or were stifled by university staff to avoid bad publicity.
These things are obviously things that I will not be discussing with my girls any time in the immediate future. This is the stuff of nightmares.
But, it does make me think of some of the things that I want them to hear when they are old enough.
It’s your body.
Their body doesn’t belong to anyone but them. Period. They are not an object of harassment by default because they are beautiful and happen to have a vagina. Someone grabbing them or making them feel uncomfortable isn’t something that just comes with the territory.
Their medical decisions are theirs to make. As a parent, I will always try my best to give them the best advise, and make sure they get the best care and treatment. But, at the end of the day, decisions about their female organs are theirs to make. And, I will stand by them.
Explore the world.
This doesn’t mean throw caution to the wind. This doesn’t mean there’s no need to make smart decisions about how to travel and where. This doesn’t mean that I don’t want to make sure they know how to take care of themselves.
What it does mean, is that they have a right to explore the world. They have a right to drive a car. They have a right to ride on a public bus. The idea that they should never learn to drive a car because going out by themselves is just inviting random men to rape them is complete bullshit.
It was wrong.
If my girls ever hear a story about a girl being raped (which they undoubtedly will when they are older), I want them to be damn sure they hear this.
It makes my stomach churn to hear, “she was asking for it,” or “what was she wearing?”.
A girl could be walking down the side of the road naked, and that still doesn’t give anyone the right to violently force his penis inside of her. Period.
I could go on, but I am going to stop here. As a mom, I hope that every day of my girls’ lives is filled with beauty and magic. But on those days where the underbelly of the human race slips through, I hope they can learn to be strong. And I hope no one can ever make them feel like anything is somehow their fault, just because they are a girl.
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