Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Hoping For Change For My Children

Recently I have been thinking a lot about my daughter growing up. In light of the allegations made against a host of well known producers, directors, photographers and so on it has made me think about what it is like to be a woman today. I am fortunate enough to say that I have never been on the end of sexual abuse. But I have most certainly had the odd slap on the bum when I worked behind a bar, that one boyfriend who possibly took things a bit too far when I said "no" and the man in a nightclub who thought it was fine to grab my breasts as I walked to the toilets.

I just kind of thought that was what being a woman was all about. That really it was just part of our lives to expect the odd cat call here and there. The bit of banter at work about the way we look. I never really gave it that much thought. Until recently. Until it dawned on me that that is what my daughter may have to put up with. Since I could go out on my own there has always been that thing in the back of my mind. A little warning. An element of danger. I don't want her to feel that.

I was in a car park the other day in a lift alone. A man got in. And there was that little moment in my head of desperately wanting someone else to get in. Preferably a woman. I am quite sure that the man was just minding his own business probably wondering what he was having for his dinner, maybe just thinking about work. But I was thinking about how long until we got to the next floor and how quickly could I escape.


As women we are conditioned to think that danger is around every corner. It's the "text me when you get home safely" from your friends on a night out. The years of carrying a rape alarm when you're leaving your Saturday night bar job. That feeling of dread when you are on a bus alone and a man decides to sit next to you. I asked my husband if he ever feels this. Does anyone ever ask him to text when he gets in. He looked at me as if I had lost the plot. I don't think he's ever done that quick run home when it's got dark and you just want to get into the house safely.

It could be the product of living in a big city. Perhaps it's parents who were quite overprotective. Maybe it's just me? Possibly I'm just paranoid. I am not naive enough to think this shift in the way that society view some men's behaviour is going to stop 'bad people'. There will always be bad people. There will always be evil people. But I do wonder if it will go someway to stop the worry about the normal people. My headmistress always used to say "don't go upstairs on the bus as men will try and look up your skirts". At the time we used to think she was just a bit batty.


But maybe that was something she had grown up with too. It's been something that women have been dealing with for hundreds of years. It was her way of gently warning us to be on our guard. As well as bringing to justice those who have performed horrific acts of abuse. I am hoping that shining a light on some of the inappropriate normalised behaviour of some men (and it is only some men, this is not a witch hunt) will help to teach the way that women should be treated. As an equal and not a target. That my daughter will be able to get in a lift and say "Hello" to the man in it without fear of attack.

Maybe a 'Mummy blog' is not the right place for this discussion. It appears to be a topic covered by established feminists and the youth of today. But for me it is really important. Whilst my daughter is not the generation that is suffering this right now. I want to try my hardest that she is one that doesn't suffer it in the future. Much like how I intend to educate my son in the ways that women should be treated. I feel that we could be on the precipice of real change and I for one can't wait to see how it's going to turn out.
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9 comments

  1. I’d never really thought about this until now. with two sons I hope I can teach them that you treat everyone with respect regardless of sex or age. And I know we struggle with no means no at the moment teach them that stop really does mean stop! I hope that my two daughters can grow up in a world that they need not be scared of.

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  2. This post is brilliant Em. It's so important in this day and age that we think about these thinks and discuss them albeit such a shame that we still have to.
    I also live in Birmingham and have never gone out on my own at night, never sat upstairs on a bus no matter how packed it may be and I refuse to go to certain places unless someone knows where I am/is with me/meeting me promptly there.
    I don't know what it's like living somewhere else as I never have and as much as I love Birmingham, it can sometimes be a scary place at times so it's great that you've written this post.

    Jade xo

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  3. Firstly I think a ‘Mummy Blog’ is absolutely the place this should be discussed. We are bringing up the future generations and in that carries a great responsibility to show our boys and girls how things should be as well as how they are. I am one of the #metoo unfortunately and I am haunted by the anxieties of it happening to my daughter. However we try to show her how to handle herself, how to be safe (she’s nearly 15) and why it’s important to be aware of the realities of the world. I was so naive growing up I didn’t have the full understanding of what had happened to me until I was an adult and it hit me so hard! At the same token we have 4 boys and we have gone to great lengths to teach them how to be good men, even the 4 year old! We’ve talked about all aspects of how to treat a woman, essentially raising feminists as best we can. Anyway thanks for writing this post lovely, it is something that need la to be talked about especially between Mummies xx

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  4. As a mum of a boy I feel the pressure is on us to raise men differently. It’s not women that have to change- it’s men. If a girl walks down a dark alley to get home, if she wears a low cut top, if she wears a short skirt, if she gets blind drunk etc- and the worst happens...well its still in no way her fault. It’s the attacker (man’s) fault. So I suppose we have to be careful when we’re telling daughters not to walk down dark alleys. Because is the presumption then that if they do they deserve what happens to them?

    Fed up of women being told “be vigilant” after rapes on an area. The message should be that men should stop raping and they are the ones that should be vigilant!

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  5. emma, this scares the crap out of me, I have 3 daughters and my eldest is only 7 like yours, we have been out before and chatted about how there are some strange people around and she has to be careful and stay close. The other day we were walking down a local highstreet which we never really go to and she said "mummy I feel scared, I feel like I might get kidnapped".. I wasn't sure if I'd put the fear of god into her but nether the less I told her to stay close. I love your blog xx

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  6. I absolutely love this article Emma. As a mummy of two daughters it is certainly something I think about x

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  7. Brilliant blog post Emma! This is so true and so sad. We have all grown up to think these things are normal, being whistled at, being shouted at from men across the road and hurriedly looking away and walking faster and praying they wouldn’t follow, being groped in night clubs and just being judged heavily for everything we do!
    I really hope the time comes when girls won’t grow up thinking this is normal.
    Thanks for speaking up about this issue! X

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  8. Emma this is such a brilliant post - having a daughter it’s something you don’t want to think about. But, you are so right we did grow up and think this was normal and it really isn’t. Xxxx

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  9. It's so hard raising kids sometimes with everything that life throws at you. I have adult daughters now at uni, and it hasn't stopped unfortunately, men who grope in night clubs, thinking about when they walk home alone, they talk about when they hear those footsteps behind them.

    Yet, I can't control those men, I can invest my time into making sure my girls and boys know that this is wrong. To know their own worth (that worth means it is not ok for it to happen to you- or to do it too others). Building resilience into them and talking, talking, talking to everyone about these things so that hopefully our awareness and our perceptions about what is normal is confronted!

    I so relate to this, I don't think the fear ever goes, but I think the faith in how you raise your kids, and who they become does grow.

    Best of luck Emma you're a fab mamma.

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