Archive for October, 2014

Recently,  I attended a gathering at a life-long friend’s home.  She and I have known one another since I was in kindergarten and I’ve known her family just as long. During the party,  one of the family elders had imbibed just a little too much and became very touchy-feely with many of the female party goers.  To be clear, I’ve known this man since I was very young…. he’s practically the same age as my own father and for many years I felt just as close to him as a daughter.

So it was mildly unsettling when he began groping my ass repeatedly throughout the evening. And then swooping in for REALLY extended hugs and not-fatherly smooches. Because I’ve known him for the better part of three decades, I felt ABSOLUTELY uncomfortable. But I was MORE uncomfortable asking him to refrain from doing so. Whether it was out of concern for hurting his feelings or bruising his ego, the other ladies and myself were prepared to instead completely avoid him rather than tell him he was behaving badly. My friend’s husband and brother finally explained to him, in no uncertain terms,  that he was out of line and made arrangements for him to depart. But it got me thinking….why had each of us ladies been far too timid in the moment to thwart his unwanted advances? 

Myself, and the other ladies there, were tangled in a situation of being far too polite to kindly ask him to back the fuck off. And there lies the conundrum. 

In a world where 1 in 3 young girls are subjected to unwanted sexual attention and advances and nearly every grown woman has experienced some sort sexual harassment….I began to wonder if we, as a gender, are predisposed to believe that we must simply just endure rather than refuse to allow ourselves to be subjected to that sort of behavior. 

I wonder too if, inadvertently, we are teaching young girls that it’s rude to call men on their sexually charged shananagins and are thereby creating the perfect future victims of sexual crimes. 

I would like to think I generally take not one bit of shit from anyone….but I digress. Far too often I’ve found myself in an unsavory situation and error on the side of polite disregard for my own well being. Are we systematically trading our own safety for politeness? 

Think about that the next time you see an unsavory character approaching you. Everything in your gut tells you to take yourself out of the equation. But, to cross the street or clutch your purse tighter or hustle in the other direction or refuse to engage in conversation would make you appear unnecessarily assuming. Then think of how many women regret not listening to that inner voice.

And while I know I was in a relatively safe place with someone who, though behaving badly, was completely harmless……I have to admit I don’t know that I would have reacted differently if I didn’t know the person.

More times than I care to admit, I find myself lingering longer than I’d like in truly uncomfortable (and sexual) conversations with creepy, strange men simply because I’m unsure how to appropriately convey “you are a big giant sleaze ball” and retreat to safety. I’ve been groped in public by scary men and didn’t stop them. I simply endured and walked away thinking “whew… glad that’s over”. I’ve generally surmised that maybe they don’t realize how truly repugnant they’re being. But the truth is…..they probably do. And they are COUNTING on you being far too uncomfortable and polite to tell them no.

I suspect it’s something inherently ingrained in our DNA to be charming and nice and friendly. We like to think we, as women, must be nurturing and kind at all times. But I would like to think we should also be empowered enough to value ourselves,  and our personal space, more than we value unrequited politeness. 

The Dick and I have always tried to be very open and honest with the penis people about the differences between boys and girls.  We encourage questions in an age appropriate manner and respond with discussions that are evenly sprinkled with correct terminology and some funny references to the slang that they might encounter. Thanks to the plethora of popular songs about bringing booty back and dropping it like its hot, there are a myriad of opportunities to adequately blow the lines of  communication wide open. And I’m perfectly OK with that. I don’t overtly censor what those nutty penis people listen to or watch. And let’s face it……in this time of overly sexed EVERYTHING its not hard to find vaguely disguised sexual references in just about everything.

Because we have always been SO open and honest…… imagine my surprise when the oldest penis person kicked off a conversation with “remember when you were a little boy…….” What the what?!?!?!  Um……dear child of mine…… momma was NEVER a boy. Exclamation point. I took a moment to wax philosophical on the fact that it would be genecticaly impossible for me to have given birth to two beautiful babies if I hadn’t ALWAYS had girly bits. He asked if I was sure I had always been a girl. Um……hold on while I contemplate that for a moment to guarantee my certainty……um…..YEP!   No penis here.

Just a short while afterwards, in an entirely different conversation on an entirely different day, I was ever so patiently reminding the wee penis person for the hundredth millionth billionth time that it is completely unacceptable to touch your own junk in public when he said “don’t you remember what it was like to have a penis??”  Desperately trying to ignore the quizzical glances and amused chuckles from nearby restaurant patrons (yes….restaurant patrons…..I bet they hadn’t anticipated such interesting dinner conversation….. you’re welcome restaurant patrons) I took a deep breath and gently tried to remind wee penis person that I’ve never had the pleasure of owning my very own penis. He seemed unconvinced. In his limited little piece of the planet, our home, everyone has a penis……apparently including momma. In his tiny little mind all the people have penises. And while it seems incomprehensible to me…..I grudgingly can understand his reasoning.

So……evidence certainly supports the idea that additional conversations need to take place regarding the differences between boys and girls. God help me….I may need several flasks of liquid happiness to find the balls to adequately explain what a vagina is. While I’m sure its a little too soon for the “how babies are made” conversation….. I can’t have the penis people walking around hopped up on false facts.

Ive been dreading this conversation for years now. I was marginally sure that the penis people knew I was a girl and that girls don’t have penises (I assumed this because I haven’t pissed alone in 9 years and counting and inevitably when I shower or get dressed its never uninterupted).

I guess the moral of this story is that its never too soon to engage your child in conversations about sex and sexuality. And ’tis not a singular, one time conversation. Its an ongoing mish mosh of uncomfortableness that is part of parenting. Not one of the fun parts of parenting and parenthood…. but one of the most important and necessary parts that you simply need to muddle through.   ((((Quietly passes the flask))))