Daughter, Philadelphia and I are nearing the end of our pasta fagioli meal. I am not sure how it happens, but somehow the topic of rape comes up.
Daughter says, “Did you know a reporter said (in reference to the rape of a 16 year-old girl): The two boys had such a bright future. Can you believe that? THE TWO BOYS WHO RAPED HER had such a bright future?! They RAPED her!”
Daughter is rightly outraged.
This leads to a discussion on rape. On blaming the victim. On what is considered “appropriate” attire.
And on the whole: She was asking for it as a conceptual flaw.
I open my mouth to say something, but daughter is really going. I can hardly get a word in.
Secretly, I feel like clapping: GO DAUGHTER!
She takes a breath and says, “Anyway, I should not have to worry about whether some guy will not be able to control himself if my skirt is short.”
I say, “Ah yes. Having to hide oneself away so as not to entice the males.”
This naturally leads to the discussion of the power of using one’s sexuality to sell:
Philadelphia is asking some provocative questions which I will attempt to paraphrase into one statement here:
“Aren’t the women who use their sexuality to gain power hurting the cause of true equality?”
Ok, mostly I feel like ducking. I think daughter might throw a shoe at him or something. I think about this question: Aren’t the women who use their sexuality to gain power hurting the cause of true equality?
Ugh. I don’t know. Yes. No. Isn’t that what Madonna did essentially? One step forward, two steps back? Or Vice versa?
I tell her, “These things run deep and wide. Power is never given. It is TAKEN. Women are a minority. We do not have the same access as the majority. And so we need to be very mindful about how we gain access to that power as we move ahead.”
We talk a long time. When I look at the clock it is 8:30. I think about growing up female. I think about women and access to education and how it was not so long ago really we could not even vote.
Then I think: At the heart of the expression of oppression is fear.
I feel a little sad.
But we ARE making progress. Daughter is sitting here, at this table, with a strong voice, discussing a subject many daughters around the world dare not speak of. Discussing an incident many daughters would have no access to even know about.
I look at her. So beautiful and strong in her opinions and ideas.
And I think: For every female, everywhere, who is struggling for access, keep talking daughter.