When Will the Stories Stop?
When I was in sixth grade, a boy named Richard carried around a journal in which he wrote the things he wanted to do to me. I was completely unaware until a friend of mine saw it and said, “In Richard’s journal, it says he wants to rape you.”
I remember sitting next to my mom in her bed that afternoon with knots in my stomach.
Should I say something? Should I not?
I went back and forth and back and forth until, finally, I looked over and asked, “Mom? What does “rape” mean?” (I can only imagine the thoughts that flooded her mind in that moment.)
My sixth grade story is mild in comparison to the stories other women could tell you. Stories about unwelcome hands, obscene gestures, and crude remarks. Stories about shame, loneliness, and judgement for things they did not ask for.
When will the stories stop? When will Twitter threads filled with stories of assault cease to exist?
When will we stop saying “boys will be boys”?
Do you know what boys will be if we expect more from them? MEN.
Do you know what women will be when boys become men? Respected. Loved. Safe.
Maybe it’s time we stop laughing at jokes that demean women, and instead say that we do not appreciate that kind of humor.
Maybe it’s time to stop dismissing inappropriate comments made by men in authoritative positions, as though their high place in hierarchy exempts them from treating others with basic human decency.
Maybe it’s time we tell our boys, “No, your potential does not matter. If you harm a woman, you will face consequences.”
Maybe it is time for it to be universally acknowledged that it is unacceptable for women to be taken advantage of.
Maybe there is no “maybe” about it.
I am tired of people claiming that remarks made about women are no big deal. How you practice is how you play, folks. If you treat women poorly with your words, you will treat them poorly with your hands.
I am tired of being afraid that Jacob and I will have a daughter and she will have a Richard – or someone worse – of her own.
I am tired of hearing stories that break my heart and leave me crying on my couch.
So for the sake of the integrity of our boys,
For the sake of the safety of our girls,
I beg you,
Expect more. Demand more.
More humble listening to the stories of women.
More outrage that we even have stories to tell in the first place.
More acknowledgment that what our society has settled for for so long is not okay.
More respect for the extraordinary women God has created.
More men. Fewer boys.
Enough is enough. It’s time for the stories to stop.