During Yesterday’s Super Bowl game a commercial aired that put some men in a tailspin. I did not even know there was such a thing a meninists. So in short let me put this out there, first off I have no idea why people are in such an uproar over a commercial meant to show that being a girl is not a negative thing. Apparently we have time warped back to the 1800’s! Let us look at this from a modern perspective for a moment. Women have the right to vote and own property now, that was not always the case. Women can drive and are not required to get married, but that was not always the case. Women are still not paid as much as men in the same or similar positions. We are lucky women get paid a decent wage at all.
I am going to take this even further and open some of my own old wounds. During puberty girls are at a much higher risk of being abused than boys. I am by no means stating that boys do not have a tough time. I can only speak from my own perspective, but I do know that often boys will demean and harm girls. I hate going to high school. Every single day my body was a target for groping and unwanted touches. If I defended myself I got sent to the office. Every day there were boys that tried to strip me down, they hauled me into a locker room and I fought as hard as I could. To the point that I never dated anyone in high school. I hated them all.
Let us pause here and think about this. I was abused every single day. Not one teacher or staff member every stood up for me. Not one other person ever tried to stop my tormentors. It got so bad that I started trying to get out of that school. It is very difficult to convince your parents that things are bad if there is never anything on the records. This set me up for finding the first escape I could. I left one prison to enter into a new one. I married the first man who dated me. One that I did not go to high school with. One that had no idea what I went through. One that was abusive as well. One that I eventually left. One that I hated for many years. It took me many years to understand what had happened to me. It did not make me a man hater but it drove me to search out men that were not right for me. He was emotionally abusive, several of the other men I dated were as well. It took me years to actually realize what I had gone through and what I was doing in my relationships.
So if empowering girls to stand up and fight, to know exactly what behavior is disrespectful and to know when abuse is happening is somehow threatening to your masculinity maybe you need to understand what it feels like. I imagine those who are threatened by a little bitty hashtag are the same people who were/are bullies. Those same people who put others down to make themselves feel better about their own pathetic lives.
Those that have felt bullied and have found a voice often form some sort of support unit. Trying to prevent the same abuse of others is in no way threatening anyone except abusers. There is a group here in Sacramento that holds a fundraising walk every year. They raise funds for domestic violence victims. The catch is you walk one mile in high heels. More and more men are stepping into awareness and I applaud them. As more men become aware of women’s issues more women can find their voice. In the end a women finding a voice and standing up for herself is not a threat to men but an asset. Once I found my voice, I found that yelling and fighting back were not necessary. Walking away came easier and understanding my situation made life for myself and my children better.
Once I found my voice, I could see the threats to my own daughter and my son. When we first moved to Seattle my daughter was daily taunted by a boy from school. When I finally figured out something was wrong I had to pry to find out what. It took me hours to get it out of her. I think often women just shut down and try to pretend it is not happening. The boy at school rode her bus home. He got off at the same stop she did no matter where she went after school. They had the Boys and Girls Club that they could go to or a friend’s home, so she did not always go home. I suspect that she avoided going home until this boy left her alone for the day. The final straw that broke her was when she got off the bus and he told her he knew this 18-year-old that wanted to rape her. Somehow this was funny to him. She was 12 and it scared her. She finally told me and I called the school the next day and demanded they address the issue. I insisted that this boys parents be notified as to what he was doing and that if it did not stop I was going to press charges and sue them. It immediately stopped. Not only did it stop but that boy learned a valuable lesson. My daughter now understands what abuse looks like. I am happy to know that no matter what no one will ever be abusing her.
Several years later my son came home with a neck full of hickies. A few weeks later I asked what had happened to that girl. He said, “oh she is a little ho. She is with so and so now, but was with so and so before that!” This attitude is absolutely unacceptable and I let him have it. I told him he was never to speak of another girl/woman like that ever again. Little girls only do stuff like that because little boys make them feel they have to. You are just as guilty and just as much a “ho” as she is so it is not even a little bit ok to say that about a 12-year-old, no matter what. For some reason we as a society not only allow females to suffer abuse, we condone it at very young ages.
So there is a need for things like #likeagirl there is a reason that people advocate for women more than men. There is a reason that you somehow got your little whitey tighties in a big ole bunch. Step back and try to understand what it is like to grow up “like a girl” once you see how painful it can be and how much happens to a girl maybe then you will understand. Just like growing up suspected of being gay is painful, or growing up the geeky kid no one likes but everyone spits on being a girl is often a painful way to grow up. We need to nurture and empower both boys and girls, but we should never bash at one or the other, that is where the entire problem starts.
So next time you take offense to some support mechanism that does not directly benefit you ask yourself, how it feels to be a woman? The other thing that I am truly shocked by, those same men are not discussing the sexist tilt of many commercials. Oh that is right, they like when women are objectified! And then things will never change for some people, but if one person’s life can become better because of #likeagirl or #itgetsbetter than more power to those who support them and let the haters hate. The louder they scream the more powerful the message must be!