Like many of you, and most of the country, I have been chomping on the Supreme Court Nomination hearings and subsequent testimonies for the past couple of weeks. I use the vague term “chomping” because some people are picking apart every detail while others are collecting a quick summary from a passing news feed. All over the spectrum. I don’t want to launch into anything political right now, but I will say that when I listened to Dr. Ford’s testimony in light of my experiences growing up in the Chicago Suburbs, I felt an awful familiarity with the scenario she described. Local pools, summer hang outs, parties, and entitled boys – yep, we had those here too. And looking at my girls now makes me feel that one could make any defensive claims one wants but I probably won’t lend a sympathetic ear when it comes to sexual harassment and assault. We’re in an ugly, but very necessary moment right now, friends. And with all this in my mind, I read this op-ed by Monica Hesse from The Washington Post:
Titled Dear dads: Your daughters told me about their assaults. This is why they never told you, this article is a gut check, a kick in the shin, a rough insight into yet another reality about why sexual harassment and assault are kept secret. And it’s written for us Dads. Now the article is well-written, not overly politicized and even somewhat cathartic, but it is still tough to read. But in my opinion, men and women alike should read it.
The long and short of it: daughters don’t want to disappoint their fathers.
The details unfold around that idea. What struck me is that now is the time for me to show my girls how I can rationally listen to their life stories; good, bad and ugly. Show them while they are young and hopefully we develop some space to talk about the hard life issues. We may be in an ugly moment, but my hope is that Dads are paying attention and thinking “caterpillar stage”, meaning work and live through the ugly in order to make something else. Something that flies higher, goes farther, does better. And I focus on men’s roles here because we are doing the majority of the harassing and assaulting. Blame socialization, evolution, television and popular media, whatever, but that’s the truth. Then move past blame and let’s start figuring this ugly sh*t out.
The politics of this whole nomination is making me angry. Honestly, the past three nominations have frustrated me, made me upset with the people working in our government system. So I guess, like with most things, this change will have to start at home. Let’s start with us, Dads. And Uncles. And Grandfathers. And Brothers. And Cousins. Hell, and neighbors and teachers and every other role where men influence boys and play a part in shaping the norms and mores of society. And in roles where men influence girls. And let’s open up to our female counterparts. Moms, Aunts, Sisters, Grandmothers, teachers, fabricators, engineers. Open an honest conversation, or maybe even shut up and listen. I know this is a bit of a rant, and I’m not typing here because I think I have some answer. But I know I’m not alone in looking for one.