Protecting Our Daughters
It is interesting how you continue to gain perspective on your mother as you age, how you may see things differently when you become a mother yourself. Photo above (internet) reminds me of one thing Ginger did often, consistently, and persistently – she talked to me. As a young girl, she told me over and over again to be cautious of men that may try to “touch you” inappropriately. She told me over and over again that any man could do this, a police officer, a priest, a teacher, a doctor – always be aware, never be naive.
Ginger was what I called ‘over-protective’. Yeah, as young girl, she drove me nuts. I could not go to sleepovers until I was too old to be invited, and she attended every single doctor’s appointment through my teen years. She was always home when I got home from school, even high school. She not only talked to me, she talked and talked to my friends as well. Ugh.
Ok, sometimes I was glad she was so present. In the seventh grade I was about to attend a new school that mandated communal showers which was their practice/policy for after gym class. Getting completely naked in front of all your female classmates. Not something a 12 year old girl necessarily feels comfortable with. Ginger picked up the phone and strongly put her foot down on my behalf.
When I had my own daughter I was determined not to be overprotective, but nevertheless exercised strict rules and always had an eye on her activities and friends. At a very young age, teaching her about what and what is not ‘appropriate’ was not overlooked – I clearly remember a song we would sing from a children’s cassette: “My body belongs to me, my body belongs to me; before anyone can kiss, hug, or touch, I have to agree!” She is 30 and still remembers it to this day. 🙂
So. Why bring all this up? I am extremely perplexed after listening to testimony after testimony from young female gymnasts. With these sexual abuse cases under the hands of slimeball Larry Nassar, where were the mothers? (Or fathers for that matter.) Underage girls were regularly allowed to be alone in a room with a grown adult man???? Did a parent not even pick them up after the session and ask questions and/or observe suspicious body language? If the child was away from home (training for the Olympics) would a prudent parent not insist on a female chaperone? It is my understanding that in some cases complaints were made to the school or to the Olympics Association, but nothing was done about it. So some parents knew there was something wrong but still allowed their daughters to continue??? Something is not right here. It would seem that PARENTS – before the school, before the Olympics Association – have the utmost, primary responsibility to protect and advocate for their daughters. I won’t even verbalize my hunch on why that may not have happened…
My point here is NOT to make people feel badly. It is to open our eyes. It is to prevent future situations like this from happening again.
The parents of these young women must feel sickened by this. Fortunately, the Nassar case is behind them and those young women he abused can take peace in knowing that he will never abuse again. But there are plenty more Nassar creeps out there.
My point is to deliver this message to mothers of young girls: PROTECT YOUR DAUGHTERS. Have conversations with them every day. Talk to them about sexual abuse. Teach them that ‘creeps’ can be in powerful positions and are not always creepy looking! Do not ever allow an underage girl to be in a precarious situation, regardless of how much they beg you, or what anyone might gain. Be there with them whenever you can. Let them say you are ‘over-protective’. They’ll get over it. And even better, someday they may say “#notme”.
Help me reach more young mothers and spread this Ginger Lesson. If you know a mother of a young girl – baby, toddler, tween or teen – please share my blog today. www.ginger-bred.net/blog
Thanks for reading and as always, welcome your comments
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Great commentary, Candy. I did read that at times mothers (or fathers) WERE in the exam room, but Dr. Nassar would turn so as to block their view. But I think if those girls had been talked to in the way you were, they may have said something at the time! You’ve reaised some good questions. Also, I’ve wondered about the young woman Aziz Ansari incident, and wondered at her lack of preparedness. Also, the way that so many young women looked at that situation and could not say how things may have been different. It suggests maybe too few mothers are talking to their daughters nowadays. Maybe the “stranger-danger” talk at school all very young children get is all they get.