About Courage

A lot of us, especially (but not exclusively) women are seeking out a palate cleanser today.

This week was hard. The past two years have been grueling for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is I’m seeing sides of people I never wanted to see. But this week, it got even uglier.

Friends? Men? Anyone in general who wants to know why a woman would not report an assault?

It’s disingenuous to ask that question, and we all know it.

But if I must spell it out — I imagine it has to do with the culture we’ve created. The culture that told me as a 13-year-old girl that boys were not going to be held accountable for snapping our bra straps at school.

Girls routinely were — and in many places still are — blamed when they complained to an authority figure about the actions of boys.

So why would any of us feel safe enough to report something more serious?

I’m not super worried about the way my sons will grow up to treat women. But, I’m sure Brock Turner’s mom never worried either.

SO. I’m just gonna put this out there for all the moms of girls: If anyone ever accuses either of my sons of snapping a girl’s bra or worse — or doing anything that even slightly resembles not keeping their hands to themselves — I WILL BELIEVE YOU. It will suck the life out of me, but I will believe you.

And then, the fire and brimstone that shall rain down upon my children’s heads will be unlike anything they have experienced from me before.

Again, so we’re clear: OUR HOUSE IS NOT A “BOYS WILL BE BOYS” HOUSE.

In our house, we speak to women with respect. We respect each other’s boundaries and bodies. My husband and I do not force our kids to show physical affection to anyone, not even to us as parents. We daily — DAILY — talk about stopping whatever physical activity we’re doing — wrestling, tickling, anything — the SECOND anybody says to stop. If we’re not sure if someone wants to be kissed or carried or hugged or touched or tickled or wrestled with, we simply do not do it. It’s not that hard. Except when it is, when kids need a daily reminder. That’s parenting.

And the messages my kids are getting today, from people in power, whose attitudes and voices and apathy trickle down into their kids’ and grandkids’ attitudes, is making it harder. I am finding a deep dislike for the opinions of people I love. People whose opinions I never needed to know about. Vile, abhorrent opinions that are making it very hard for me to not engage.

My rule of thumb recently is this: First, how will this help your own self-care? Second: only engage with a person’s opposing opinion on social media if it can do some good. Just like on the playground. If I see someone being hurt, or bullied, or mocked and cannot defend themselves, then I’ll step in.

I don’t always succeed. I step into it when I shouldn’t. A lot. I don’t see every post because — let’s be honest — a lot of people make it pretty obvious they’ve unfollowed if not unfriended me on social media, and the reverse is also true.

But you know what’s even better than not engaging? No, not rage-shopping or baking, or consuming large quantities of junk food and wine — my usual go-tos.

My palate cleanser for today: Eating rice and eggs and pumpkin soup with my girlfriend and talking about courage.

She might be the bravest person, man or woman, I’ve ever met.

And we’ve started a little project.

Actually, a big project.

Hers is not my story to tell, but I’m going to help her write it.

I can’t even tell you how honored I am to call her my friend.

Ladies, if you have someone like that in your life, spend some time with them to put things in perspective.

Find that person that inspires you and reminds you that we will get through this, and when we do, we will end up stronger and more fearless on the other side.

If you don’t have that person in your life? Then maybe you ARE that person to someone else. But you’ll never know if you are until you step away from your phone and do what needs to be done.

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