You know what men like? Leggy girls. By my 11th birthday, I had been whistled at more times than I could count. And, before you ask yourself: What was she wearing? Where did she live? What was she doing?; realize that the answers to those questions do not matter.
I was 11. A kid. And now I am 36, a woman. Men still whistle at me and it is not flattering.
In fact, their cat calls fill me with shame. It makes me cross to the other side of the street. It makes me blush. It makes me embarrassed in front of my children. And sometimes, if I am alone, it scares me.
This week, I started following along with the #YesAllWomen feed.
The #YesAllWomen has tag serves as a response to the postings made by Elliot Rodger, who went on a shooting rampage in Isla Vista, California, killing six people and himself. On YouTube, as well as other social media channels Rodger raged toward women. He wrote a 141-page hate filled manifesto that laid out his plan for the killings.
Reading women's stories--ranging from cat-calls to rape to intimidation to abuse to disrespect--reminded me of how important my job is as a mother to son.
I am raising a boy who will be a man. Since becoming a boy mom, I've heard so many tell me how different boys are and how boys will be boys and "that's just boys for you." That thinking is dangerous. It is that thinking that leads to little excuses and little excuses lead to big excuses.
Can you imagine if it was your son who whistled at an 11 year old little girl walking around her suburban town on a Tuesday afternoon with an ice cream cone?
Whistling on a street corner is the gateway drug to bigger, bolder disrespectful behavior.
Obviously boys are different. Heck, my two girls are different from each other. And I love my son's masculinity. I adore every piece of adorable, chaotic little boy-ness. I love how he is drawn to construction sites and does not even flinch when he is covered in dirt. I love how he is a little bulldozer, climbing machine with a non-stop appetite for everything.
I most adore the way he looks at me with love, awe and respect.
I want my son to grow up to look at all women with the same love, awe and respect he has for me.
That is my job. It is my job to never say, "boys will be boys" or "that's just boys for you" to excuse misbehavior of any kind. It is my job to never allow him to think that because of his gender he is held to different standards. It is my job to not allow him to hang up posters objectifying women in bathing suits on his bedroom wall. It is my job to teach him that no matter how much the world portrays women as sex objects--the world is wrong.
But, it does not stop with our sons. It goes to our daughters too. My girls need to realize that the other girls and women around them deserve to be respected and honored and cherished. There is no woman who is deserving of anything less. My son and my daughters will grow up to honor the women in their lives. They will grow up to give respect away to every single person they meet.
It is my job to raise my boy and my girls to remember how much they are loved.
Because #YesAllWomen deserve love and respect, I will raise my son and my daughters to remember the love and respect they have been given.