Have you been a victim of sexual harassment, sexual assault or unwanted sexual advances? If so, I am sure you can pinpoint the time and place. It’s hard to shake off. This is a topic that can get uncomfortable, but it’s one we need to dialogue on. We must set clear standards and set the platform for open discussion. All forms of these unwanted behaviors are not limited to females, by any stretch of the imagination. For this particular article, focus will be on females being the recipient to these unwanted advances made by males. We will take a look at defining sexual harassment and unwanted advances with our kids; tough, but necessary.
Have you been the target or on the receiving end of sexual harassment, assault or unwanted advances?
The rampant prevalence of these actions is unsettling and need to be stopped. Over half of females (I believe this is ultra conservative) have been subject to harassment or unwanted advances in their lifetime; think about that for a second. More have than have not been subject to this. That’s insane, sickening and has to STOP!
Know that this does impact your self esteem. This does impact your opinion and view of the opposite sex. The tide must change. It can no longer be allowed to be the norm for our girls and women. It’s unfair to do so. So where do we start?
The need to define:
- Personal space
- Appropriate dialogue
Where do we go from here?
Our first step is to clarify terms, boundaries and respect between both males and females. What we don’t always talk about is the emotional and long-term implications that somebody faces when they’ve been on the receiving end. It affects their relationships with other people; in turn affecting how they perceive themselves. It’s an absolute domino effect. This is where we must redefine and uproot what our definition of what is appropriate and inappropriate interaction.
If the tide does not shift we continue to set our boys and girls up for failure in maintaining healthy relationships. When perceptions are so skewed, how could they not be? Change is possible, but it takes a village.
We have young ladies that believe that harassment is something that is a normal, expected occurrence. Whether this be a catcall, inappropriate touch (butt or boobs, etc.) this is often viewed as something that just happens. It’s almost expected. Often, it isn’t perceived as alarming. This norm needs to be reversed and it’s not something that’s supposed to happen; your body is your own and for no one to touch unless granted verbal permission.
I truly want to scream this from the rooftops!
The basic break down of personal space and respect has to enter conversations frequently. Our kids are inundated with messages from society that throw respect, decency and humanity out the window. Turn on your radio, check out social media sites and really listen. They receive messages that demean girls constantly. It’s heart wrenching. There is power when we reinforce these truths. We empower our young people. How awesome is that?
We must provide continual reinforcement that your body is your own to both girls and boys. Personal space is real; it must be met with respect. Under no circumstances or how attracted you are to someone (or feeling that they might be you know potentially somewhat interested in you); it’s a no touch zone. We must clarify existing misperceptions of what is okay and it isn’t okay when it comes to words that come out of someone’s mouth to actions. Connect words or actions that one may perceive as a form of flattery, but will actually demean and harass.
It’s a cop out to maintain a ‘boys will be boys’ mentality. This is setting our young men up for disaster and it’s unfair and unacceptable. Locker room banter that removes respect, decency and humanity from our young ladies can not be a right of passage for young men. How can we expect them to respect themselves or young women if this is the case?
Defining sexual harassment and unwanted advances with our kids
It’s really about respecting another human being. When the ‘boys will be boys’ mantra prevails we dehumanize the opposite sex and removes all aspects of respect. Keep it simple. Unless there is verbal permission, it is hands off. Refrain from inappropriate comments and stares; this is unwanted and unnecessary.
We can reclaim healthy views of our girls; it is possible. The reality is, it can happen with solid dialogue and strong healthy definitions of what respecting another person looks like. Your voice matters. Your actions, your behaviors resonate even further. Our kids watch more than they listen, that’s a whole lot of pressure. I believe when we look at the importance of connecting words with actions, it places a different spin on things.
I encourage you to take that step and chat with your young person. What do they think? What is their view? Is it healthy? We can learn from each other, regardless of age. Be willing to listen, ask questions and possibly be uncomfortable.
Every day I remind myself how the role as a parent can overwhelm, but we are not alone. Seek wisdom from others, we have so much to gain from their insight and experience. Encourage, uplift and know that you can do this! Peace, love and parenting!