I have a younger friend, let’s call her Suzie, that I have reached out to, and offered myself as a mentor, supporter and friend. Suzie is an intelligent girl, even if she struggles in school. But, she’s scared. She’s pretty much scared of everything about living one’s life.
In fact, she reminds me a little of parts of me when I was her age. The difference is, the only time I wasn’t very good at confronting issues head-on was in my marriage (and in some past romantic relationships). As a kid, I was the one everyone ran to when people bullied them. As a teen, I put a robotic mask over many of my feelings, so that I wouldn’t “let the bastards win” (i.e. I was too damned proud to allow myself to be vulnerable).
But, she (and a few of the other kids I’ve gotten to know locally), are fairly often reminding me why I need to be a feminist, and why I need to speak up and speak out.
We are teaching our daughters to avoid confronting any males. Whether it is because they’ve gotten used to being told that “boys will be boys” (and the boys not being punished for bad choices), or because they’ve been repeatedly told that “ladies don’t make a scene” (or some other form of ‘keep your complaints to yourself’), it doesn’t really matter.
What matters is we are NOT teaching our daughters to stand up for what is right. We are NOT teaching our daughters to defend themselves from someone who is being a “creeper” or worse, a stalker. We are NOT teaching our daughters to be proud of who and what they are, and willing to FIGHT for themselves.
And in the process, we are teaching our sons that it is fine to be a creeper or a stalker or to feel entitled to sex with anyone they want (regardless of what the object of their lust might want).
Justice and fairness have always been important to me. I know…life, more often than not, is not fair. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t STRIVE to be fair (and refuse to be around those who won’t be fair).
So, what does fairness have to do with feminism? Well, think about it. If a heterosexual male were treated the way many heterosexual men treat women, they get angry and confront the idiot doing so. And either it turns into violence, or the guy apologizes.
But, many women can’t protect themselves if the man becomes violent. Some women can, but even then men tend to be bigger and stronger than most women.
Since when is it RIGHT to be an asshole simply because someone is smaller or weaker than you? Hmmm, take the gender out of it and you see exactly what it really is: BULLYING.
I can’t protect every woman, but I’ll be damned if I will stand idly by when a woman is being threatened. And, yes, I won’t stand idly by when a man is threatened either. It’s that whole sense of justice. I see it as part of who I am that if someone is getting bullied, I have to stand up – regardless of the gender of the victim.