You probably think I missed the boat on this one. That I’m a bit late to the game. And in a way, that’s true. I didn’t have my own painful story to share that would bring some small sense of comfort and camaraderie to the women in my life who courageously recounted and disclosed those terrible memories and abuses.
They Just Keep Coming
The stream of allegations continues to flow with such monumental force. New perpetrators are brought to the light weekly, if not daily. The list grows longer and longer of men who are wealthy, influential, and in some cases even beloved by many. Men who were trusted by their peers, given great responsibility, expected to be leaders and put in a position of power.
Ultimately, they failed.
They used their names and influence for evil. They used them to violate. And they used innocent women as pawns in their perverted games.
But I had no part in this narrative, besides that of a beloved friend, sister, and supporter. All I could do was stand alongside women who had been shamed, embarrassed and abused. That is until I was lying in bed one night, unable to fall asleep after nursing my sweet, new baby. I realized that I have arguably one of the most significant roles in the story, and I had almost missed it.
I’m raising two little boys. Two little boys who will grow up to be men. Men who will have a choice to make when it comes to women, and men who will make the right one.
They won’t make the right choice because I will be breathing down their necks, ensuring that they do. They won’t make the right choice because they believe that their religion forces them to do so. And they sure as heck won’t make the right choice because our society compels them to.
They will make the right choice because, when it comes to this, they won’t even see a choice.
What they will see is a nonnegotiable. A standard. An expectation. A simple, basic, undeniable right for women to be treated with dignity, respect, and love, and that is that.
So, as their mama, I pray that they will see women in this light.
I pray that they will fully understand the strength, courage, beauty, intellect, humor, wisdom, passion, love, sincerity, wit, and power that women possess. That they will know that every woman is different, unique, and remarkable in her own right. That she is capable of doing whatever she sets her mind to.
And, when they fall in love, I pray that they will know that they do not complete any woman, for she is already whole. Instead, they complement her as her teammate and devoted companion.
But as a mama of boys, I also pray another prayer.
I pray that my boys will be sensitive in a way that compels women to be vulnerable in their presence because they know my boys would never take advantage of them. That they will be tender in the way they interact with women because they have no need to prove their power. That they will open her car door, not because she’s incapable, but because she knows there is no threat in his masculinity.
Respect: Actions Speak Louder Than Words
I perspire at the thought of having to sit down with our boys and have this conversation about respect. At the thought of ensuring that I say all of the right things and convey the message with both clarity and authority.
So I’m simply not going to.
Instead, I am going to bust my booty to act in a way that commands respect. And my husband is going to bust his booty in an effort to treat me in a way that we would desire our sons to emulate.
Goodness knows we won’t be perfect, and we’ll make an absolute mess of it all at times. But perfection isn’t reality, anyway. And hopefully in the midst of our mess, we can teach our sons what it looks like to fail gracefully, too.
So for now, while they’re too little to even begin to understand any of the swirling allegations and criticisms, I will cherish their innocence and tenderness. I will wait with bated breath until it diminishes and the real work in raising world-changers begins.
But you’d better believe I’ve already started pouring the foundation.