The Worst Way to Celebrate Women’s Day

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.

A Letter to #notmymarch Women

I was just putting together a video from the Women’s March and since some time has passed, I decided to go back and look at some older posts for inspiration.  What I found was more negativity than I remembered.  

When I look back at the pictures and videos I took from the Women’s March in my home town, St Petersburg, I remember a day of love and solidarity.  A day when women of all backgrounds, ages, and status came together with a single goal, to reject the president’s attacks on women and stand together in peace and love.  Below I am going to address some comments from social media, most notably from the #notmymarch hashtag.  Fellow bloggers and Youtubers voiced their confusion and even their disgust with the women’s movement.  

  1. #notmymarch aren’t sure what the women are protesting, and have accused them of not knowing what they even stand for.  First of all, let me clarify, this was not a protest against policies, the man had just been in office for a day, this was a march of solidarity, to stand together and reject the misogynistic views of a man who had just been inaugurated as our president.  If you really need to be reminded of comments made by our 45th President, stick around, this post has a few       

 

2.  #notmymarch women say that it really bothers them when other people speak on their behalf and we should have referred to it as, the anti trump march.  Seriously?  You didn’t represent my belief when you voted for a man who thinks women shouldn’t poop (or at least shouldn’t let men know they poop).  

You certainly didn’t represent my belief when you voted for a man who said cohabitation is an excuse for rape or who justified sexual harassment because “he helped a few of them.”  You voted based on your beliefs, and now I’m standing up for mine.

3.  #notmymarch women are ashamed of women wearing giant vaginas or holding pussy signs.  They criticize the celebrity speeches for, “nonsensical remarks about periods”  The vulgarity did not come from these women taking back ownership of their genitals, but from “remarks” made by the man who now holds the most powerful position in the United States.  A man who has made various statements about women’s pussy and his right to it.  A man who believes it is okay to ogle a 12 year old girl or sexualize his own daughter.  A man who has insulted a woman’s intelligence due to the fact that she bleeds.  A man who has called breast feeding disgusting.  The fact that a woman’s amazing body can create and sustain life is nothing to be ashamed of however, the misdirected vulgarity claims from #notmymarch women are truly shameful.

 

4.  #notmymarch women say they already have equal rights and insult women marchers for whining about their privileged life.  Well, here are some reasons I marched that Donald Trump did not campaign about.  According to nsopw.gov, Approximately 20 million women have been raped in their lifetime.  Only 16% have been reported.  1 in 5 girls will be a victim of sexual abuse before the age of 18.  Only 30% of those cases are reported to authorities.  1 in 6 adolescent runaways fall victim to sex trafficking. In spite of these alarming facts and statistics, Trump has elected people into his cabinet that have said that they will not uphold the laws and programs that protect these victims. For example: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/17/betsy-devos-hearing-prompts-fears-for-campus-sexual-assault-protections

White women continue to make $0.70 for every dollar a man makes and minority women make far less. Women marches stood up to say that we will not move backward in regard to wages and their remarks came in response to Trump’s brutal attacks on his presidential opponent Hillary Clinton.  He has called women “gold diggers” and only seems to support their “job” as beauty queens. He attacks women for not having the right “look” – too fat, too ugly, too non presidential.  

 

5. #notmymarch women said they already feel valued because they earned respect.  I’m not sure if they are insinuating that the millions of women who marched aren’t respected, but I’m going to assume it wasn’t an attack.  Instead, I’m going to talk about how Donald Trump values women.  To Trump, women have value when they strut across the stage wearing nothing but a tiny bathing suit and 6” heels.  They have value when they offer up sexual favors or don’t decline a sexual advance.  Donald Trump’s value of women is numerical and often written on a cue card.  It’s often compared to other women in an outwardly sense.  Her inner intelligence is criticized while her outer appearance is judged.  I will NEVER accept, or allow my daughters to be valued under Trump’s model for women.  I will teach them to reject his comments as normal and stand up for themselves when they are not being respected.  If our president’s comments make you feel proud to be a woman, continue your living room rants.

(1)(2)When Trump purchased Miss USA in 1997, he said he was going to, “get the bathing suits smaller and the heels higher.”  He added of the women, “if you’re looking for a rocket scientist don’t tune in, but if you’re looking for a really beautiful woman, you should watch.  In 2009, beauty queen Carrie Prejean revealed “The Trump Rule” referring to his requirement that the women parade in front of him so he could separate the attractive and non attractive ones.   (3) In 2015 Trump said supermodel Heidi Klum was “sadly, no longer a 10.”  In response, Klum said, “every woman is a 10.”(4) . On Howard Stern, Trump assigned actresses numerical ratings based on their “f***ability.”

Now, if you, as a “strong, independent woman” support this man to properly represent the value of women in our society, you should feel no need to defend your beliefs, you’ve already given him the power to do so.  

Let me end by saying, men are not the only misogynists.  Women, such as #notmymarch are just as guilty, if not more guilty, of perpetuating the lack of respect for women in our society. Calling each other names, insulting one another’s intelligence, attacking women for their beliefs will hurt all of us.  Donald Trump has repeatedly voiced his view of women during his campaign, and in response, we marched. If you didn’t, I have faith that your one-woman march continues privately.  Progress lies in our ability to come together.  We are all one powerful female body that must protect our worth and keep moving forward in whatever way is necessary.

Now, I’m going to get back to my video, a video that shows the love and togetherness of a march that restored pride in American woman.

 

How to Raise Strong Girls Who Stand Up For Themselves

Houston we have a problem, my own daughter doesn’t understand why I marched for women’s rights.  I called her from the protest boasting with pride after marching beside my sisters and fellow human beings fighting to keep moving forward in regard to human equality.  Very unenthused, she replied, “what’s not equal?”  

For a moment I felt like the wind had been taken from my sails.  How could I have failed so terribly as a mother that she didn’t see the beauty of democracy in action.  Is she not proud that her mom is taking a stand for women’s rights?  For her rights?  And then I realized that I’ve done such a good job keeping her safe and empowering her that she’s never felt unequal.  Now, I’ve put myself in a position to explain to her, and her 2 sisters, how they will one day experience inequality in its cruelest most devastating form, unless we fight to keep moving forward.

 

I’ve raised strong girls who feel like their voices can change the world.  But, I haven’t told them that if things stay the same, there will come a point in their lives where they will be told their opinion doesn’t matter.  They’ll be shamed for being too emotional or told they’re less intelligent, even though they may be more educated. They will most likely take the insults without speaking up in order to fit in, but the worst part is that they will start to believe it.  I haven’t told them that their voice will matter less, IF WE DON’T MARCH.

My 12 year old and has not yet been deprived of a better job or told that no matter how hard she’ll try, the boys in her class will most likely make more than her.  In my daughter’s classroom, everyone is equal. I haven’t told her that she won’t have equal opportunities, IF WE DON’T MARCH.

My innocent daughter has managed to escape sexual harassment up to her 7th grade year, but we all know her first bra snap or ass grab is right around the corner.  I haven’t talked to her about how she’ll feel when a boy touches her or humiliates her in public, how she’ll want to rip his hand off but will instead smile and brush it off as a joke.  I haven’t told her this harassment will continue for the rest of her life… IF WE DON’T MARCH.

My daughters have grown up in an environment of safety and protection.  They have never experienced stories of rape or molestation.  I have been so busy teaching them that sex should only happen with a partner you love, that I didn’t tell them how likely it is that they may one day find themselves in a situation where they didn’t consent.  Like many other women, they will question whether they deserved it or if others would believe them if they came forward.  They will suffer in silence, IF WE DON’T MARCH.

It is my responsibility as their mother to teach my daughters about inequality so that they do not accept it when it happens to them.  I have to teach them to march through life with signs everyday that say:

  • My Voice Matters
  • Shatter the Glass
  • No Means No

I have to teach them that if anyone violates their body, their voice, or their rights, they need to speak louder, take action, and keep moving forward.