Do we seriously still have to say "NO means NO!" ?
A few weeks ago I was at Sam's Club with my two little's. There were two older men we encountered. One gave me an unsettled feeling and the other did not. Side note- I have always had what I call (for lack of a better word) a "creep-dar" and it has yet to fail me.
The first man was talking to my daughter. Telling her she was beautiful. Joked with her about playing hard to get. I watch her face as she starts to shrink back into her tiny body. The man clearly isn't good with social cues and continues to joust with her. I say to her, loud enough for him to hear, "sis do you want to talk to him?" She replies, "no." I said, "sis look at my eyes, you do not have to talk to that man if you don't want to."
Immediately light came back to her face. Relief. She took a deep breath and gave me the biggest smile. She sits up straight as if ready to take on the world.
She is three and in that moment I could have contributed to the culture we have created here in America, where we as women, and even men, don't have rights to our own bodies. I could have hindered her from following what I believe to be- her God given instincts. I could have forced her to be uncomfortable as to not offend someone. I could have taught her we don't have a say-so in what we do or don't want many times.
We are groomed unintentionally from birth by our families, because the fear of offending most times trumps the fear of saying no.
Minutes later as we were leaving another older man was talking to my daughter. She whispers to me "mommy I don't have to talk to him right?" "I said, that's right sis." She smiles but then says a few things to the man. She is taught in this moment, that she has a say so. That if she is uncomfortable, it matters. That she has instincts and she should follow them. That she has ownership of her body and what she does with it.
Don't misunderstand me here. I am not raising tiny rude anti-social humans. I swear. There is a difference and my three year old could tell it that day, in those two men. She could tell the difference in how she felt. She also learned that day that her mommy is on her side, in her corner. It was a short, seemingly insignificant teaching moment, that I can guarantee will stick with her the rest of her life.
5 or 6 years ago I was at a fourth of July pool party. A woman there was nursing her baby and a man was sitting near by says quietly out of the clear blue sky "can I watch?" She darts her eyes back and forth. Stunned we sit there for a second wondering if we heard him correctly as he stares NOT at her eyes.
She opens her mouth and stutters over her words, and I cut her off mid sentence and put my hand in front of her face pulling up her towel cover, "NO! YOU CANNOT!" He looks at me almost shocked. As if that was a NORMAL request and I was a tyrant to deny him.
This woman struggled with something that should have been an easy answer because of the same reason my daughter did. She didn't want to offend this man who was clearly a creep. Lets just say my husband and a few other men quickly escorted this man to his vehicle and let him know it was in his best interest to get in his vehicle and drive far away. After we got over the shock and being appalled we all laughed about it, but how sad! A woman feeding her baby, targeted in front of a group full of people, and has to second guess herself if it's okay to tell him that, no, he cannot see her chest and watch her nourish her baby.
We really need to see exactly how far the "fear of offending over the fear of saying no" goes. There was a movie I watched where "the killer" didn't even have to lure the victim in because he came willingly when offered a drink even though he knew this man was bad. The killer later notes that his victims always came willingly because the fear of offending is stronger than that of saying no.
I want to be a part of the generation that ends this extremely dangerous mentality. Again, this doesn't mean that we get to be rude for the sake of being rude, but it does mean that we get a say in our comfort-ability level and that saying no isn't a privilege, it's a right.
We don't have to hug people we don't want to. Our kids don't either. Even Grandma from the generation "I can say and do whatever I want because I survived the great depression." Even the kindergarten teacher. Even the pastor. Even me, my kids have the choice to hug or kiss, free of manipulation of "making mommy sad" - (which is a tactic most of us parents, myself included, use when our babies get too big or cool to give us snuggles.)
Anyone, anytime, for any reason. If something we are asked to do, not to do, to say, not to say- doesn't sit right in our guts and we have that internal battle of not wanting to say no for fear of offending- lets give each-other permission to say no! Without hesitation, without guilt, without worry. Starting with our babies, our teenagers, our friends.
If we want to change the world in a time where rape statistics and human trafficking skyrocket. Where upwards of 2000 children a day go missing in the United States. Then we have to start right now. Today. This moment. Unapologetic-ally- which is a blog for another time.