It’s been an intense week and a bit of a roundabout for me. I started out seeing #metoo and wanting to join the voices. I wanted to stand up for all the silenced women and be brave enough to say I too had been through, and survived sexual violence. I wanted for the world to understand what I have always known ...
Problem 1: “Me too” is massively triggering
Problem 2: “Me too” only hears women
I also tried to listen to the occasional “what about sexual violence for boys and men” and whilst there is no doubt that they experience harassment and sexual violence and no doubt that many many men would never harass or assault women, any cries of “us too” or “not all men” are understandably met with anger. I agree entirely that a conversation about that should never derail a conversation about THIS, but shutting them down has the impact of the next problem:
Problem 3: “Me too” silences men on this issue for women
Even the really decent men, don’t feel they can fight this, for fear of male violence.
Problem 4: “Me too” Identifies women as victims
Problem 5. “Me too” is just shouting into the abyss
Then - this problem is so huge, so painful and so endemic in society that I feel utterly helpless and like I am screaming and no one is listening and even if half of us scream, no one is fucking listening.
I wondered, will this be a ripple that irons out and little, if anything, will change?
So what then?
Not speaking? … No one speaking? … STILL?
NO! Then nothing will EVER change and I WILL NOT accept that. It’s time women stop accepting that. That is not OK.
So whilst this week has been painful and triggering, it has also been necessary. It is important that the scale of the problem is recognised. This is not a Hollywood problem, it’s a global one and it’s time it stopped. So we must act. We women (who are oppressed because the patriarchy is completely terrified at our power if we chose it) must act and the men that truly believe in equality and consent must act. Voters must act.
What then should we do - how shall we act?
But the conversation cannot stop with "me too". The next conversation must take place.
How we raise children is everything:
First we, as parents, must ensure we can parent without passing on our own suffering:
Prevent transference of pain and destruction
Raising a generation
Seek your children’s consent early and often
This sent me on a learning journey through Magda Gerber and Janet Lansbury to La Leche League amongst others where I realised that respectful parenting means treating children as equal human beings, not property, not subordinates, not annoyances. From birth and throughout their lives, we must respect their capabilities, competences and autonomy, intervening only when they need us to and with consent.
Stop undermining consent at home
- Insisting they kiss or hug you or any other person (friends and family). their body is theirs, not yours and being polite or respecting elders is not as important as knowing that they have the ultimate say in what happens to their bodies.
- Giving some people ultimate power. This is often seen as being respectful to elders and whilst it is important to teach our children to respect all other people, regardless of their age, size, gender or any other generic demographic, having people who should be respected regardless of their actions, undermines children’s ability to respect themselves and make safe choices about their bodies now and in the future.
- Playing rough and tumble (RTP) or tickling games without boundaries. RTP is fantastic for learning consent if done well. Listen to your child, if they say stop, or no, or their sounds are unhappy - STOP. Even if they ask you to start straight away again - that’s fine but no means no and stop means stop. This is essential learning for all genders.
- Contradicting their assertions. If your child says it’s cold when it’s hot, consider discussing the issue with them rather than telling them they are wrong. “What makes you think it’s cold?” rather than "no it's not don't be so ridiculous".
Demand a consent-based education
In CalmFamily we teach consent-based and respectful parenting by empathising with children from the womb through to adulthood. Consent is in the fibre of all our classes and the way we deliver them.
If we raised a generation of well attached children who experienced consent positively from day one, who had their voices heard at home and in the world, had body autonomy and respected others’ right to choice and consent as theirs were heard and respected, we could change absolutely everything.
We could change the world!
Thank you for reading,
Dealing with trauma and need support from a warrior woman who will always have your back? Contact the beautiful soul Amanda Wanowski.
If you are keen to take action to change consent in your parenting, please book a class or consultation with a BabyCalm or ToddlerCalm consultant. We provide evidence, empathy and we show you your power as a parent.
If you want to help us change the world by inspiring hundreds of other parents, join our community of consultants and our parenting movement.
If you want to hear more about birth, parenting and education from me, please contact me to speak at your event or facilitate a workshop for you.