You May Say I’m a Dreamer….

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Just a few short days ago, a young man from a wealthy, influential family killed 9 people before shooting himself.

He had planned this act for months, making a video outlining all the reasons why he was tired of his life and the way it hadn’t went the way he thought it should. The central theme of his complaints?

Women.

Women did not fawn over him as they did other men. They didn’t appreciate his gentlemanly ways. His non-jock physique. His intelligence.

In short, they weren’t throwing themselves at him the way he believed they should…so he would take out as many as he could before he left this planet.

I suspect he was too self-absorbed to contemplate the international uproar his statements of sexual rights would create.

Women from all over the globe are opening up about the daily reality — and horrific experiences — of being female in a world that seems to think of nothing but sex. (Google #YesAllWomen)

Of being female in a world where simply being female puts us at risk of harm.

I had never heard the terms “misogyny” or “misogynist” before that I recall — defining a prejudice against women in general. But this 45-year-old was schooled after reading the heartfelt comments and shared stories from other women — and men who either supported or derided them.

I can say with immense gratitude that I was never molested as a child, or raped. I led a rather sheltered childhood and was pretty naive when I graduated high school. Even by the 1980’s standards. I am so thankful to my parents for their protection in always knowing where I was, and who I was with….and that I was led to a good group of friends where the guys I hung with did not assault me and think it was their right to do so just because we were friends.

Let me point out right now — I am not, and never have been, a beauty. In my youth, I was probably only girl-next-door cute. And yet I was still not immune to the discomforts of unwanted male attention.

While it seems pretty tame now, I recall having my bra strap “snapped” in junior high by male friends after I suddenly developed a figure. (Now that I’m the mother to two daughters, I don’t find that funny in the slightest.)

At 19, I was wooed by two different 27-year-old men who certainly didn’t need to be dating a teenager.

I was then pursued by a co-worker who had been married less than a year.

At 20, I landed a wonderful office job with many terrific people. As well as one older man who liked to walk up behind me and rub my shoulders. I learned to stand up and keep a piece of furniture between us when I saw him coming.

Another older man I knew, married at least 40 years, who made me internally squirm with looks and compliments that were borderline inappropriate. And I only ever saw him at church.

A supervisor that went out of his way to create problems for just the women in our office, including attempting to hold them back from promotions and raises. And did nothing to hide that fact. (My first experience meeting a man who had issues with women simply because they were female.)

The men — mere acquaintances or complete strangers — who felt it was okay to reach out and touch my belly when I was pregnant. I learned to step back when I saw a hand reaching out.

Or let’s not forget all the times I’ve immediately been on guard when approached by a strange man while taking a walk. The apprehension I have felt just walking through a parking lot at night, keys sticking out between my fingers, glancing around on high alert.

Simply because I’m female.

And try raising daughters in a world where children are snatched out of their yards, disappear after getting off the bus, or go off to college and are grabbed by men who think it’s their right to ruin other people’s lives for their own pleasures. I don’t trust any strange man that approaches them just to “chat”. Ever.

I appreciate all the wonderful men in this world (such as my Husband) who do not catcall. Who do not ogle. Who do not grope. Who do not cheat. Who do not demand favors.

And I especially appreciate all those wonderful men (and women) raising boys to not do it, either.

While I wish for a world where my children — and girls and women everywhere — can just walk down the street free from fear or even the need to be cautious, it’s probably not going to happen.

But I’d like to think that this sad young man’s last act might have at least started the changes that will bring that to fruition. Someday.

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