The #MeToo Campaign has been going on for a few months now, and ever single time I see a Me Too post, my stomach knots up, my throat closes and I have to choke back tears. Every single time.
A year ago, my son wrote this open letter to his daughters, my granddaughters. I am asking you to read it, digest it, and share it. Please join me in a new campaign to help the next generation to be filled with #NotMe and #NotUs.
An Open Letter to My Daughters
There is a term used by Victim Advocates to describe the communal, societal forces that allow sexual assault: Rape Culture. I know this is a very difficult subject to talk about but please keep reading. When a woman or man (yes, it happens to both genders) is sexually assaulted, the attack is more than just physical. The attacker takes from them their dignity, their self-respect, and their self-worth. When these survivors ask themselves if they should come forward, even if it is just to seek help, they face many concerns. Will I be taken seriously? Will anyone believe me? How can I take back control of my life? Will there be reprisals for coming forward? Recently all of these fears were played out on a nation-wide scale during the presidential election.
Before I go on, if you think this is another letter bashing our President-elect, it is not. The key word in Rape Culture is Culture. That means all of us, collectively, as a whole. It includes me. It includes your mother and your grandparents and your friends and your teachers and it includes you. When you have children of your own, it will include your sons and daughters. It is our collective, every-day actions that can make the Rape Culture better or worse. Every time we question what a survivor was wearing or why she was in a certain place or if he was drinking, we make it worse. We make it harder for survivors to come forward and we make it easier for rapists to get away.
Every day there are survivors who are struggling with hard questions. If someone could treat me like that, do I really have any value? Should I say something? Will anyone care? On November 8th, 2016, America came forth with a resounding answer: No. And for that, I am ashamed.
I should note that I love this country and the freedoms that it stands for. Democracy is a rare and wonderful thing and should be respected. This was a fair and legal election. I may not like the outcome but I will not forsake democracy because of it. As your Father I would hope to show you the responsible example and try to convince the people who elected him that they were mistaken with reasonable, valid arguments.
At this point you may be heartbroken. And you should be. You may want to scream in anger and yell until you are hoarse. Don’t. Remember we are all a part of that Rape Culture so we are all, in part, responsible for the outcome. We have to change it with our every day actions. Instead of responding with hate and anger, respond with love and kindness. Try to truly understand the other side of an argument before you rally against it. Truly listen to what someone is saying and the emotion behind it instead of just waiting for your turn to speak. Remember it takes more intelligence to know and admit when you are wrong than to argue that you are right.
If someone questions the actions of a survivor, kindly and respectfully show them how their actions affect others. Show these survivors that you will help them regain control and that you will fight, tooth and nail, for them to rediscover the self-worth that is still inside of them. Teach your daughters and your sons to treat their bodies and their selves with respect. Then teach them to treat others with that same respect. Never assume you hold the moral high-ground. Do not spend your time looking down on others and pitying them; reach a hand down and pull them up to your level. Then turn around and find the hand reaching down to help you up. We can change this culture, but only if we do it together, only if it involves everyone.
With love and respect always,