HOW DO I TELL HER?

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Submitted Date 10/02/2018
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I wonder when it will happen.

At the moment,

she is wildly enthusiastic,

optimistic about where her life will lead.

It's like Christmas morning,

that feeling that she has when she wakes up each day,

that there are unlimited possibilities,

life is fair,

safety is guaranteed,

opportunities are given to everyone who earns it.

That feeling that she could be president one day.

I don't have the heart to tell her,

or the stomach to watch it,

but I know it's coming.

She is eight-years-old

and already I can feel it shifting.

I can feel how gradually the world is working toward diminishing that spark

and I wonder when it will happen.

When will she become aware of the fact that,

as a female,

she is not always going to be treated as an equal and valued member of society?

I wonder how much she will push back at that notion.

I hope she will.

As a young girl,

she hasn't come face to face with that glass ceiling.

As a young girl,

she is still able to walk into spaces as her complete self.

But, steadily,

I can see that it is starting to set in.

When will the destructive process begin?

When will she start slowly stripping away

all of those little pieces of herself that are deemed unacceptable by our society?

I know it's coming.

How long can I protect her from the monsters that lurk around every corner?

I think I can keep it from happening for awhile,

until she starts to develop.

I'm afraid it won't be long after that.

One day,

she will be walking down the street or pumping gas

and her humanity will be broken down into body parts.

One day,

a man or group of men will yell something offensive in her direction,

"Take it as a compliment", some will tell her.

One day,

she will have to make a choice.

Will she keep her opinions to herself and look down at her feet?

Try not to make eye contact and pretend she didn't hear it?

If so, she will most certainly be called a bitch.

If she's lucky they will leave it at that.

However, if she does not look away,

if she says what she really thinks,

she will most certainly be endangering herself.

How am I going to tell her?

How will I find the words to tell my fiercely opinionated little girl,

that although she is strong,

that many times,

she will be preyed upon because she is also weak,

vulnerable,

and no matter where she goes and what she accomplishes,

that she can't let her guard down

or else she might be taken down

by a man who has done nothing to deserve her?

How can I tell her that,

as a female,

she has a 1 in 3 chance of being a victim of sexual violence?

How can I break it to her,

that if she is attacked, she will inevitably be asked what she did to deserve it

and if she's lucky,

she will be the only one to ask herself that.

How can I tell her that if she is raped,

that her attacker will likely be back on the streets in 3 years or less,

if they even go to jail at all?

How should I say it,

that sexual violence towards women doesn't seem to matter in our culture?

How do I tell her,

that in our current patriarchal society,

justice for women that are victims of sexual misconduct

comes secondary to the needs of powerful men?

I wonder if I should tell her

or let it happen over time,

the imminent breaking of her spirit,

the realization that in many rooms she will be judged most by her beauty,

not her intellect,

the knowledge that in some rooms she will be unfairly dismissed if she shows too much skin

and in others she will be unfairly dismissed if she doesn't show enough,

that there are so many ways that a woman can get it wrong,

so many ways that she can be blamed,

so many ways that she will not be enough,

so many expectations that are too unrealistic for any woman to achieve.

I'm not sure I can

or that I should.

How long should I keep hoping there will be more progress

so I won't have to tell her?

How soon will it be relevant for me to tell my daughter  "me too"?

How long can I prevent her from being able to say it back?

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  • Mary Jaimes-Serrano 4 days, 15 hours ago

    Miranda, this is a harsh reality check. These words have touched the mother in me. I think about this every day as I watch my 13-year-old change and see reactions to her change as well. I too hope that I will never have to say those words to her. However, I think showing strength in the eye of the storm is something we must do. I too pray that progress will be made and that many things in our world will change. Thank you for your voice. Each voice counts and each voice matters. I hope the day comes when this will no longer be an issue. Have a wonderful week and again thank you for your powerful words.

    • Miranda Fotia 4 days, 2 hours ago

      I wish it was not an issue as well. Sometimes it just seems like the world is not a safe place for young girls. There has recently been a rise in the number of missing teenage girls in my area and I find it very unsettling. We can't keep our daughters in a bubble, but sometimes the world makes me wish that I could. Thank you for your words of encouragement and good luck to you and your daughter.