As I wrote about in earlier posts looking at the #MeToo campaign and consent education, many social problems we face have roots in early childhood. Addressing them can be challenging for adults, since it means changing long-held and early-learned patterns and behaviors. But the good news is that we CAN change how we socialize children and create changes that will ripple forward.
"Mommy, do you want a piece of my candy?"
"No, thank you, Bug. I'm not hungry right now."
"But I got your favorite, Reese's! Have a piece of candy!"
This is a scene that plays out on a regular basis in my house, and yesterday's holiday only amplifies it. In this moment, chances are very good that I actually want to have a piece of her candy. I've learned, however, that moments like this one are an ideal opportunity for something more important than chocolate and peanut butter: it's a chance to practice consent education.
"Sweetie, what did Mommy say?"
"No..." [picture a disappointed look on her face.]
"And what does 'no' mean?"
"No means no. So you don't want candy, do you?"
"No, Bug, I don't want any candy. Thanks for offering, and thank you for respecting my 'no'."
Sunday evening, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, and I saw the #MeToo campaign reigniting in live time. I saw a few friends post "MeToo" and was intrigued; then I saw a 4th post it with an explanation. I caught my breath. Would I participate? What would my mother say when she saw it (or my father, when he read my mother's feed?). Wait, Mom and Dad are on vacation. They likely won't see it. I released my breath, pushed the memory of a guy's face out of my mind, and copied and pasted.
EDITED TO ADD: in the hours since I hit "publish," I've been torn between wanting to add nuance, both to be sure I wasn't appropriating a different story that isn't mine and to assure loved ones that it wasn't that bad (looking for euphemism here), and not wanting to suggest that somehow failing to treat women as full human beings is ok just because only one line was crossed, not multiple lines... I'm still thinking about these conflicting impulses, and when I envision a more just world, it is one in which this debate becomes irrelevant.
About the Author
Exploring women's issues in search of a world that more equitable for everyone.
* frac·tal FRACTALS ARE USEFUL IN MODELING STRUCTURES (SUCH AS ERODED COASTLINES OR SNOWFLAKES) IN WHICH SIMILAR PATTERNS RECUR AT PROGRESSIVELY SMALLER SCALES (Google dictionary)