Friday, August 12, 2011

something getting on my nerves right now

Yes, this is a rant, and probably too long to read, but i needed to write it.

I was reading an article the other day (do yourself a favour and read it), and this stuck out at me:

Or there's the 14-year-old who was at the movies with her friends when a man in his 20s put his arm around her shoulder and asked her to come sit with him. She said no and he went away but she was shaken. Talking it through with her friends, there were suggestions that her outfit was ''kind of sexy'' and so maybe she shouldn't dress like that any more. Others in the group thought that was unfair: her outfit was amazing and she felt great in it. She just needed to be ready for men who thought she was older or looking for a boyfriend or whatever. Together, the girls came up with a strategy: the next time she (or any of them) had an adult man crack on to her she should say - very loudly - ''I'm 14!'' and if he persisted, she would - louder still - tell him he should be ashamed of himself for trying to pick up a child.

There's no doubt the ideas behind this solution came from a thousand conversations with adults and peers and from various forms of media. When it came to the crunch, the girls were able to talk it through, support each other and come up with a strategy that acknowledged unfortunate realities while refusing to cower in the face of them. Talk about empowering.

Unfortunately, when the girl told her parents about the incident, she was banned from going to the movies with her friends. Again, an understandable impulse but the girl feels punished for fighting her own battle and will either stop doing so or - more likely - will be sure to keep future battles a secret.

Read more:
And that pretty much summed up my teenage years, even a lot of my life right now.

As a teenager I dealt with a lot of things, went to a lot of places and got up to a fairly normal amount of stuff. I still have a major issue with the fact that I had to do a considerable amount of lying in order to do the normal things that people my age were doing.

Nowadays I live with my parents and so they feel quite OK about tracking my car, having a tracker on my cellphone (which is used regularly, not just in case of emergency) and recently phoning my friends to find out where I am at 7pm because of the 'emergency' of needing to know if i would do laundry.

I have been out enough to have had a fair number of experiences that I'm sure would freak my mother out, because the world is a big ugly place and the chances are if you go out and have fun you will end up with 50-year-olds staring down your shirt or having a drink spiked or having a road-raged driver get out his car and spit in your face. It happens (all true stories).

What bothers me is that people are so busy trying to wrap their daughters in cotton-wool (and I say daughters because of the number of times I argues against unequal restrictions to hear 'but your brother is a boy so he can do more, it's not safe for a girl'

And my real point, besides the whining?

As a kid and teenager I was cotton-wooled within and inch of my life. As a young adult I am as controlled as they can manage. Guess what, it never stopped me anyway.

Can people stop trying to raise gentle delicate flowers and teach their kids to be tough and smart and have values that will stay with them long after they take control of their own safety. That little girl in the movie house was so strong and she dealt with the situation and came up with a game plan, and for that she got kept at home. Next time she will lie about where she's going and it will take things going very very wrong before she asks her parents for help.


po said...

It's funny but I kind of can't relate. My parents never seemed to worry what I was doing at all. I know this is only because they were so old fashioned that it never occurred to them that the kind of thing you mention could happen. They were that niave. They had nothing to worry about, I am the most boring person on the planet and nothing happened to me. Maybe because I felt I could do pretty much whatever, so I didn't bother? The funny thing is that in his old age my dad has become a total neurotic and if he was dadding me now I would be cottonwooled within an inch of my life too. Weird. He tries it on me now but he is a few years too late to have any influence, haha.

Tamara said...

Fair point. I reckon our parents probably do the best they can though. I'm totally anti-cotton-wooling, but I don't know if I'd feel the same once I had actual kids to consider. It's easier when they're hypothetical ;-)

beauty said...

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