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 concern for her African-American son making a statement when he was the victim of racial profiling by police. As a mother, her only concern was ensuring that 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 style of dress, I cringe when I see my oldest girls walk out in clothing that reveal 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 the 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 and to some extent we have to be willing to conform to societal standards in order to survive in this world. At least until you become a billionaire owner of your own corporation. Then you can probably pretty much wear anything you want to.
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 guys 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 there are parents out there that may cringe at the thought of having these conversations with their daughter’s. But, the feminist in me says that these conversations are absolutely necessary. I want my girls to feel empowered when it comes to their bodies, just put on a little more clothing in the process :-).