What We Tell Women

“Why don’t women…”

So I have been in my new studio for two weeks, and I intended a fluffy little post about my time there regardless of if it went well or poorly. There are always various misadventures one ends up in when trying to deal with and settle in to a new space. However, this isn’t it. Through social media I have been watching the people around me respond to things on the national stage and the result is feeling ill and battered and bruised. Some of my art in the past two weeks has gone well, and some have been utter disasters. However, throughout it all my brain has been buzzing with all the various thoughts and things people have been saying, and writing something fluffy isn’t in the wheelhouse today.

When my daughter was nine, a boy started abusing her at school. Tripping her, punching her, pinching her. We asked her if the teachers knew, and she said she didn’t think so. It happened often in the hallways, and they are supposed to be quiet in the hallways. We told her the rules were supposed to keep people safe, and if she wasn’t safe she should break the “be quiet” rule and be as loud as she could to call attention. Believing us, she began loudly yelling “stop that”, and “don’t kick me”, etc. The teachers would then interfere, and make efforts to keep them separated. However, in a classroom separation isn’t always possible, and it continued. It took very little time before all the other students in her class started telling her regularly that she shouldn’t yell, shouldn’t make such a fuss, shouldn’t be so loud, shouldn’t try to get him in trouble.

To my knowledge no students in the class, other than her two friends who were also targets, ever told the boy to stop his actions.

We tell our girls early that they shouldn’t make a fuss, that they need to take responsibility for what is done to them, because they shouldn’t “Get him in trouble”.

We keep asking “Why don’t women (fill in the blank)?” We rarely ask “Why don’t men stop?”. The truth is that we know the answer to both questions. Women are told not to, over and over in many different ways, and the men who commit these acts are taught that it isn’t their responsibility, that it is a “woman’s problem”, and that there are few, if any, repercussions.

Right now there are a number of conversations happening, and I have done a lot of half-finished things to help me process it all. The only one I am willing to share right now is this one. The rest may or may not get shared at some other point if they ever get finished. They are more to settle my brain than to share with the world.

So. Settling. Unplugging from the internet for the weekend, going on a woods walk tomorrow with family, and listening to Winnie-the-Pooh on audio book. Next time I post I promise to share dragonflies, or snakes, or blueberries, or something pretty that reminds us of all the little miracles in the world. Because it’s true. That there are little miracles everywhere, every day, and brave people who risk greatly for others, even if it is sometimes hard to believe.

I am off to go remember it. Then I promise to share some of what I come up with.

 

 

What We Tell Women

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