Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I, Too, Have a Dream

At the recent breakfast fundraiser for the Women's Funding Alliance, each attendee had two 3x3 slips of paper sitting at his or her table setting. At the top read: My dream for women and girls is...

The idea was that everyone would complete this statement on one of the cards and slip it into the envelope at the table to be forwarded to the organizations' staff. The other card was for us to take home, complete, and share with the other people in our lives; co-workers, friends, family, etc. An evangelistic outreach, a tangible wish that would cause ripple effects in the community and get people started talking about how to realize these dreams.

My dream for women and girls is
  1. That they feel safe,
  2. That they feel connected,
  3. That they feel challenged,
  4. That they feel as though they contribute,
  5. and that they have choices.
Each of these concepts is so vast that I have decided to begin with the first one and write about my thoughts until I've unearthed every shiny nugget I can. Subsequent posts will explore each of the remaining issues. I hope you stick with me as I explore these issues.

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Safety is so basic. Such a central spoke around which all of our other emotions and actions revolve. By safety I mean emotional and physical safety - being free from harm, both inflicted by ourselves and others. Although, it is my opinion that generally we don't seek to cause harm to ourselves unless we've been taught that by others.

Safety is the umbrella under which we fly. It is the basic assumption that allows us to go forth into the world and explore our limitations. If a child knows that they can roam freely within certain boundaries and someone will be looking out for them, they will seek with abandon. If a woman knows with certainty that she can speak her own truth without being ridiculed or physically attacked for it, she will learn to be her own best advocate. We have all seen dogs who have suffered abuse - they shy away from even gentle touch because they have learned that when someone reaches out to them it likely means pain. Women and girls who have been mocked or whose opinions are discarded, whose emotions are labeled as 'silly' or 'ridiculous' or 'overblown' stop thinking for themselves. Women and girls who are physically punished simply for existing on the face of the planet with a vagina have no recourse. We cannot change who we are, so we sink into the background.

I want a world where little girls grow up assuming that they will be watched out for, cherished, protected. One in six American women (as compared to one in 33 men) will be sexually assaulted at least once in their lives.* Add to this that less than half of all sexual assaults are reported to police, and you're looking at more like one in three women/girls sexually abused. In my neighborhood there are fifteen children. Eleven of them are girls. That means that in my neighborhood alone, at least three of these girls will be raped, molested, or otherwise sexually assaulted in their lives. I am not okay with that.

Nor am I okay with the fact that more than 25% of American women and girls have experienced some form of domestic violence in their lives. There are hotlines, crisis shelters, scores of resources available to victims, books written on the subject, self-defense classes, attorneys whose entire job it is to specialize in this area of the law. I want a world where women are not victimized. By anyone.

I want a world where women and girls feel safe to express themselves and their opinions without worrying about harm coming to them. I want a world where women and girls can go out with their friends at night without worrying about being assaulted. I want a world where we recognize the gifts that women and girls have to provide us with and we protect their voices and their bodies and allow them a safe place to explore their world and share their ideas with all of us.

I don't think that is too much to ask.
*statistics obtained from www.rainn.org - Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network

6 comments:

Wanda said...

Mine is that the glass ceiling disappear and women get paid equal (as in be valued equal) to men.

[Word verification = sally..."Ride Sally Ride!"]

Anonymous said...

My dear friend, you know how much you dream is close to my heart, how much I wish that every girl, every woman would be and feel safe, live free of pain, free of fear, free to express herself and be fully understood, fully accepted for who she is, fully safe and fully happy. Thank you for sharing your dream.

-Isabelle

Carrie Link said...

No, not too much to ask at all.

Deb Shucka said...

Exactly what Carrie said.

This (we don't seek to cause harm to ourselves unless we've been taught that by others.) however, leapt from the page and lodged itself deep for me. Profound and healing to read. Thank you.

Kathryn Grace said...

Deep. You raise so many important points, and after all the years of my life working in one way or another through many of them to make a safer, more equitable world for our girls, it is sadness I feel that yet another mom must write yet another article about these issues that seem never to go away.

Our world will be just only when our girls and their mothers, aunties and grandmothers are safe to be whoever they want to be, safe to speak their minds, and safe to walk wherever they want, whenever they want.

Thank you for using your talent, your words and your time and energy to build a safer world for our children, especially for our girl children.

G-Tone said...

I agree with you.

It's a shame that most Africa American men thinks that the women are just properties and not human being to be cherished and nutured...

It grieve my heart to hear about story like this where women are abuse.

We women need to stand up and fight for our rights

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