This morning, as the fallout from Harvey Weinstein’s ouster as a sexual predator flowed out of the radio, I commented that I expected there would be many men in (and out) of Hollywood, feeling a bit nervous.
When our daughter asked me why, I started to explain that, historically, sexual assault and exploitation of women by men in power was normalized and rarely, if ever, met with consequences – at which point she rolled her eyes, sighed, and tried to get me to stop talking about it.
Because, as I discovered through a few conversations this weekend, my daughter thinks I, too often, look at a situation and focus on how women are or have been, treated differently. That I think too much about risks to our physical or emotional safety. That I highlight too often how women are referred to, spoken to, or considered. That I enjoy, perhaps too much, moments when men are treated “like women” and get to see what that feels like. That I talk too much about how to be a successful woman you have to be better, do better, fail never.
I haven’t gotten her to say it, but I believe she thinks I’m making “much ado about nothing” because these things are in the past. Or that she will somehow be sheltered from mistreatment because of the bubble we have built for her.
And I hope she’s right. But I’m sure she’s not. Because I know too much, and fear even more.
I know, someday, she will be told to quiet down, lower her voice, stop being so “much” – because that has happened to me.
I know, someday, she will be racing, pushing herself physically and mentally, only to have bystanders tell her to “unzip her kit” – because that happened to athletes I know and respect.
I know, someday, after posting a beautiful selfie, she will receive sexually explicit comments, and be expected to laugh it off because it’s just “boys just being boys” – because that happened to one of my former teammates.
I know, someday, she will find herself in a situation where she thought she was safe, only to be filled with fear – because that has happened to me.
I fear, someday, she will be sexually harrassed or assaulted – because that has happened to many in our community who are now sharing their stories in an attempt to show how big the problem is. And I fear, someday, if that happens, no one will believe her, or blame her for what she wore, where she was, what time she was there, and what she drank.
I fear, someday she will express an opinion online, and in response, she will be met with mockery, cruelty, and threats of violence or rape – because that just happened to a friend.
Steve and I have worked hard to ensure that our children understand that they are equal. That they are capable of anything. That there are no limits. And that nothing should hold them back.
Now, unfortunately, we have to tell them about what life is like outside the bubble. About the cruelty. The objectification. The threats.
And what they both can do to ensure that someday, my daughter will be right.