Friday night something happened. It’s not my story to tell so I won’t tell it, but I will say that I was the grownup in someone else’s situation and that even while pretending that everything was okay and that things were totally under control, it was pretty scary and I wasn’t actually in control of anything. Saturday was a bit of a roller coaster dealing with all of the feelings and fears and Thank Gods from the night before, but some fantastic friends and the greatest husband ever wrapped me up in love and understanding. I was quiet here on the blogging front, but Lord knows I didn’t have anything nice to say so silence was probably the better alternative.
We Union girls, as sheltered and ill-prepared for society as we were when we graduated, we were about as safe as you could be. I certainly knew women who were not safe — women who were victims to physical or mental or sexual abuse — but overall, we were a happy group with not a thought in the world about danger. I left my dorm room unlocked all the time, and also my dorm room window, so if one of my roommates forgot to leave the door open I could still get in without my key. My greatest fear was that a woman from another sorority would grab my favorite KD t-shirt from the dryer while I was doing laundry. Sometimes I would do my homework around the laundry machines just to be safe, or save my best laundry for when I went home to visit my parents.
That is just not the life of many young women in America today. I don’t have any sort of epiphany or conclusion or lesson about that to share with you — this isn’t a lecture or a solution and there is no cathartic ending to this story. It’s just a statement I feel the need to say out loud: the world that our young women are maturing in, the world where they are learning who they are and how to navigate right and wrong, how to respond to crisis and how to develop personal relationships, is very dangerous, and very scary. And we need to support them, and find a way to give them the tools they need to protect themselves. Their bodies, certainly, but their minds and their hearts too.
I don’t believe in fathers saying “WHO ARE YOU TO DATE MY DAUGHTER,” as if daughters are some kind of property that belong to a father, and that only he can consent to her choices about her own body and her own mind. That is the remnant of suppression and it is not romantic or beautiful, it is degrading and disrespectful. I am not asking for any paternalistic you-can’t-take-care-of-yourself-so-we-will-step-in actions, because our young women are taking care of themselves. They are unbelievably strong. They are doing what it takes to survive and thrive in their world. But, tonight, I just wish that their world — our world — was safer, better, something to be proud of.