An Open Letter to Our Children

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Dear Loves of Our Lives, Our Favorite People on the Planet, Our Precious Children:

Daughters, we are so sorry.

We are so sorry that when we saw a boy at a concert, or a ball game, or at a church service goose you or snap your bra strap or grope you or touch you anywhere at all we didn’t do more than yell, “Hey!” at him. We are sorry we didn’t chase him down. We are sorry we didn’t call security. We are sorry that nobody else stopped him or chased him down or called security. We are sorry that our generation hasn’t fixed this yet. We are sorry that there are any young men your age who are still allowed to believe that women are responsible for their inability to control themselves, that they have a right to your body or anyone’s body they want. And we are sorry that we ever suggested you should watch what you wear or only drink a little, without suggesting the same to your brothers and male friends.

Sons, we are so sorry.

We are sorry that you heard the message “boys will be boys” in relation to teasing and bullying, if not from us than from teachers, coaches, friends’ parents. We are sorry for the times you were the recipient of that bullying.

We are sorry that when you made a mistake, some kid called you a “faggot” in derision. We are sorry that you didn’t hear us tell that kid to shut up. We are sorry that we didn’t come to your defense, instead giving you the toxic idea that boys are supposed to “grow a pair”, “man up”, “not be a pussy.” We are sorry you ever got that message, along with the message that being gay was somehow so terrifying as to be acceptable as a curse to use against someone else. We are so sorry that whatever we taught you, you still hear the message from peers, from coaches, from television, from the internet, from EVERYWHERE that you are not capable of controlling yourselves, so that you are not responsible for your own actions.

Our beloved children, we are so sorry that when you were groped, or molested, or assaulted, or raped, that we didn’t believe you. We are sorry that on the occasions where we did believe you, we just let it go, when what we should have done was let you rest and heal while we fought the monsters who did this to you.

Children, we are so sorry that we understood, all too well, your urgent desire to pretend it would go away, when we knew, WE KNEW that it was going to forever change you. We are sorry that our own experiences of being groped, and molested, and assaulted, and raped made us heartbroken that you had to join this horrible club and bear this brutal secret, like us and so many others, instead of enraging us into action. We are sorry that we weren’t enraged into action BEFORE you joined the club.

We are so sorry.

We are so sorry that we had to teach you, Daughters, to walk in groups, and carry your keys in your fingers, and to be wary of men. We are so sorry that no matter how smart, how strong, how amazing you are, that you are still a woman in this world, and that means that like us, like women everywhere, to far too many people you do not matter.

We are so sorry, Sons, that though we tried to give you an example to follow of how to treat everyone with respect, we missed the mark. We tried to teach you that you don’t have a right to anyone else’s body, but failed, because we didn’t do enough to overcome far too many conflicting messages from elsewhere. We are sorry that we didn’t stand up and shout down those messages consistently, from the beginning. We are sorry that we did not teach you that you are smart, strong, and amazing without having to take anything away from your sisters, or anyone else.

We are so sorry.

You are smart and strong and amazing. You matter.

We love you.

Your Mothers

 

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