Generally, I don’t like to post upsetting things because let’s face it: We are inundated with that crap all day long. I recently read an article about a gym chain that is banning news from the TV, which I think is awesome. What is the point of your workout-inducing endorphins if they’re going to get swallowed up by fear-based media tales?? Grr…. *deep breath emoji*…
I may have mentioned in the past that I love People magazine. You get a little bit of everything on that site: celebrity news, fashion, recipes, crime stories, and human interest anecdotes. Normally, the human interest stories make me cry–in a good way. But one of the latest human interest stories infuriated me the moment I read the title. If I was fuming before I read the article, I was absolutely INCENSED afterwards!
The article describes how a Utah elementary school forbade students from saying, “No” if asked to a school dance. Excuse me?? WHAT did you say??
I have SO many issues with this. The first thing that comes to mind is why would you teach children that they can’t say “no”? Children in school are already learning how to live under authoritarian rules: those who buck against the system at all are seen as troublemakers. For children who prefer to comply, like my younger two, being told they can’t say no pushes them further into some kind of selective mutism.
The recent #MeToo Movement has brought to light the fact that many victims, mostly women, have endured sexual assault in some way. The website indicates that nearly 18 MILLION cases have been reported since 1998…which begs the question: How many more incidences have occurred that have not been reported? Or have ended in murder?? My personal caveat to this is that victims of sexual assault are not just women…they are children and males, too.
The just-as-recent, #TimesUp movement, sparked by the Harvey Weinstein allegations, is calling attention to sexual harassment and inequality in the workplace. Their mission statement is, “The clock has run out on sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace. It’s time to do something about it.” Where do you think we learn how to bully or harass others in the first place, People? Yeah– home. SCHOOL.
I teach all of my children that “no means no”. The word “no” is an empowering statement that allows us to claim our bodies, our space, and our rights. If my son, or my daughters, or you, or I are experiencing an unwanted advance or touch, WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO SAY NO!!! A thousand times, NO!
My littlest one saw the tab to the People article and asked me about it. Without telling her what I thought of it, I let her read the article and asked, “Okay, what would YOU do if you went to school there?”. My heart broke. She said, “Well, since I wouldn’t be allowed to say no, I just wouldn’t say anything.” Oh, my goodness. That is absolutely NOT okay. I spent the next several minutes telling her all that I’m blogging here with you today: not only can you say “no” against an unwanted touch or advance, you WILL say no! I had to tell my daughter that she should never worry about upsetting the school administration or her peers. If something doesn’t feel right to her, she needs to speak up! And if she gets in trouble at school, she will NOT be in trouble at home. In fact, we will applaud and uplift her.
I’m still angry at that Utah school–what were they thinking? I can’t wrap my head around it. Instead of telling the children that they couldn’t say “no”, it would have been more responsible for them to teach the children how to say “no” kindly or firmly depending on the scenario.
So yes, the #TimesUp movement applies to girls, and to boys, and to you, and to me. Time IS up on sexual assault. We need to report when these things happen and we need to educate our young people on how to handle themselves.
Writer Bio: CJ Heath