At the boxing club I run, I train a 13-year-old girl. She is bright, pleasant, funny, well-adjusted, and shy. She comes from good parents. (And I set that stage, because years of experience tells me I have to.)
The other day at her school, a boy told her that his father said that she “looks like the type to send nudes.”
Let me repeat that: A grown man told his 13yo son that a 13yo girl “looks like the type to send nudes.”
What’s especially galling about this is that it took place during the couple of days that the #MeToo campaign was gaining steam all over social media.
When the girl’s mother (who I’ve been friends with for a few years) told me, I was shocked, gobsmacked, and enraged. (I can only begin to imagine how her parents feel.)
I look at my 10yo daughter and her friends and I see their day coming. And I hate it. With every fibre of my being, I hate it.
Eleven. That’s how old I was the first time a man started sexually harassing me. I had a paper route back in the days when we collected payment door-to-door each week, and he would wait on his porch for me to arrive. And every week, without fail, he would tell me how pretty I was or what a heartbreaker I was going to be or how good my shorts looked on me.
It always made me feel weird and uncomfortable, but when I told my parents, they just told me to ignore him.
I refuse to do that for our daughters.
And I’ve been dealing with this kind of behaviour from men for 30 years now. Before you blame it on an older generation who doesn’t know better, I will tell you that I still get these kinds of comments from men 20 years my junior.
I refuse to stand by and watch our daughters be subjected to this kind of behaviour.
I will ensure that my daughter knows it will not be ignored.
I will stand up for my friends’ daughters when they experience it.
I will make it clear to men that THEY. NEED. TO. STOP.
That man who said that to his son – even if it was the first time – just delivered the message to his son that it is acceptable to speak to and about girls in terms of their bodies, especially their naked bodies.
That is nothing like okay. In fact, it’s dangerous.
We can no longer stand for this.
Our daughters cannot live in a world where they lose count of how many times they are harassed, because they’ve normalized it just as we have.
Loud and clear for everyone in the back: NOT THEM TOO.