For those of you that did not get to read it, I decided to share my last column in the Bertie-Ledger. Let me know your thoughts!
A couple of years ago, I selfishly refused to understand a mother’s view when she explained that she had little to no concern about her African-American son making a statement after being the victim of racial profiling by police. As a mother, her only concern was ensuring her son returned home safely every evening. So, in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement, this mother taught her son that he was to obey law enforcement, no matter what. Constitutional and human rights meant nothing to her mother when she thought about the potentially bleak outcome if her son opted to stand up for what was right. Sympathetic but disappointed, I argued that we continue to emasculate the African-American male by forcing him to accept mistreatment at the hands of the police.
In the wake of all of the stories of sexual harassment and violence against women erupting, I am forced to come full circle and take a closer look to see if my feminist/activist stance is in line with my “mommy” stance. It is not.
Being the mother of three girls, I have grappled with my private teachings, which sometimes appear to be inconsistent with my identity as a feminist.
As a feminist, I try to make sure my girls are “woke” on issues that affect women and talk to them consistently about obstacles they must overcome as African-American girls in our society. But, as a mom, my only concern is their safety and happiness.
So, while I understand a woman should be free to decide her dress style, I cringe when I see my oldest girls walk out in clothing that reveals more skin than I believe is necessary. Sure, I applaud them for being comfortable in their skin, but I worry about them revealing too much skin. Are they inviting unwanted advances by wearing short shorts? Is their level of intelligence questioned because they choose to dress “sexy” instead of “studious”? Because they are extremely intelligent girls, I get the side-eye when I ask why they feel the need to wear such revealing clothing or do they believe they are sending the “right” message by dressing so “sexy”. They turn my feminist teachings back on me and remind me it is not them but society who has issues if they are being judged by the way they dress.
Nevertheless, I still remind them that first impressions are important. To some extent, we must be willing to conform to societal standards to survive in this world – at least until we become billionaire owners of a corporation. Then we can probably pretty much wear anything we want.
On the issue of “No Means No”. Yes, I get it. “No means No”. But, I also give my girls some additional “real life”instructions. Here are two:
- If you go to a guy’s room or apartment in the middle of the night, he probably thinks y’all are going to have sex. If you don’t want to have sex, stay home or in your dorm room.
- Verbally express your limits repeatedly so that the boundaries are clear. And, do not muddy the waters by saying one thing but doing another. If you want people to respect that “No means No”, you must be clear.
I know parents out there may cringe at the thought of having these conversations with their daughters. But, the feminist in me says that these conversations are necessary. I want my girls to feel empowered when it comes to their bodies; just put on a little more clothing in the process :-).