I woke up to a sink full of dishes and piles of clean, unfolded laundry the dogs were chewing their bones on. I got my three daughters up for school, laid out their clothes, only to hear one complain her skirt was too long and the the other complain hers was too short. I made three lunches to nourish their bodies while they are away from me, and made sure their homework was placed in their signed binders. I drove my middle schooler to the bus stop and as she exited my car I said, “today is International Women’s Day, do something beautiful.” She quickly responded, “Mom, yesterday was National Touch a Tit Day.”
My heart burned as I asked whether she was touched. She rolled her eyes and shut the door.
I’ve seen many posts about International Women’s Day online. Women laugh and poke fun at the stupidity of losing a day’s pay or letting their kids starve. Men make “locker room jokes” about “getting back in the kitchen” or wishing they had told their wife to do their laundry earlier. I’ve seen the organizer of today’s strike get called a terrorist because she is a Muslim and the protestors equated to a cult.
I myself, struggled with finding meaning in the strike. The world needs women.
The world needs her giving heart and creative mind. The world needs her to make the boo boo’s go away with a single, soft kiss. The world needs her to squeeze out the day’s hate with a warm embrace. The world needs her reassurance and her encouragement; that no matter what we face, we will persevere. The world needs her to prove there is no better reward than that which comes from pain. The world needs her to fight, because we know that nobody offers more protection than an angry mama bear.
Women must be more active in society, but more importantly in their own home. If your husband, brother, uncle, or friend makes a crude, gender specific joke, call him on it. That doesn’t make you a feminist – that makes you a hero to any little girl who you saved from hearing it at school.
If your husband, brother, uncle, or friend talks about doing things to women without their consent, call them on it. Little boys will take those “jokes” to school and enact them on little girls, for example touching her breasts due to “National Touch a Tit Day.”
If you find out that your daughter was harassed at school, call the mother f* school. There are things the school can do, the most immediate being an announcement about respect.
Don’t like how the school handled it? Take action in your community. Build awareness on gender specific issues- Make a PSA and post it online (ours will be on youtube soon), pass out flyers you created, attend town hall meetings and make sure there are laws that protect gender equality.
Whatever you do, don’t be silent. If we accept harassment and groping in middle school, what is to be accepted or ignored later? One in three girls are raped before the age of 18. We must use our voices and teach our daughters to do the same.
It’s ironic that I struggled with how to celebrate International Women’s Day and then was smacked in the face by my daughter’s revelation of National Touch a Tit Day.
I will celebrate by continuing to raise three amazing little women. One day I hope they will take the torch and bring new light to the world. As a woman, I know that in our society, her torch will be put out by many people in her lifetime, especially men. I know that this is not the first time she will be harassed at school or work. I know that I cannot protect her from all the gender specific “jokes” in her lifetime. As her mother, I will teach her about sticks and stones, but as a woman I know that she will sometimes feel like they are boulders holding her down. In the end, I hope her torch is still lit and that enough action in her lifetime keeps her world, and the world of those around her turning.
And now, on International Women’s Day in 2017, I will fight the fight by writing an email to my daughter’s middle school about tits.