Creating a “new normal” for our daughters
Of wolves and deer – a simple image to set things straight
In part 1 I talked about how today it is “normal” that women carry a high risk of becoming victims of sexual assault. And how it is necessary to open our eyes to what is happening to our daughters and fellow females to create a more respectful environment for all humans.
Today I’ll be talking about how to make that change. I will use a very simple image, so our daughters and sons – and also likely offenders – can understand what it takes to create a “new normal”.
The advent of Zivilcourage (moral courage)
We know the solution to this worlwide pest that is sexism is simple, but oh-so-hard to achieve: respect everyone as a human being. Full stop. Men, stop assaults. Women, stop unfair backlashes. Respect everyone. Stop judging – that’s just to gain power over someone. Only a weak person needs that power to feel less shitty.
The second thing we need is this wonderful German-French word Zivilcourage: stand up and act when you see injustice or attacks.
I talked about the one time I was too speechless to react to a vile, sexist comment directed at my then unborn daugther. But when the moment came, I corrected that mistake.
Walking down a platform in a train station I saw a young woman being cornered by a much bigger man who kept at her with aggressive words and gestures. She didn’t know him; she tried to turn away, ducked. It was clear I wasn’t witnessing a row but two strangers. And before my brain could follow, I found myself turning against a man double my size. Ahem. Maybe some would call that reckless. Or stupid. Hubby wasn’t happy – but he had not reacted to the incident at first. Hadn’t seen how the shy, scarf-wearing lady was too afraid to even speak up. She just tried to slip away, head down, and the guy kept cornering her. I saw it, saw nobody else reacting, walked up in there like Freya herself and shouted at him to Leave her alone NOW, doesn’t he see she’s scared? He was a bit drunk. I was a bit dumb. Maybe. He could’ve pulled a knife or whatnot. But then: My reaction made more heads turn. It made my hubby wake up and step between us three. He made more of an impression than my slender frame. The guy staggered backwards, slurring some abuse, while the young woman, close to tears, thanked us and fled for as long as we held him up.
Such is Zivilcourage – moral courage when you see someone in need – and it’s the solution to creating a new “normal” for all of us. It doesn’t even need much thinking … yes, maybe a better plan would’ve been less dangerous 😉 What mattered to me was to help her, maybe prevent worse.
But I’m digressing.
Let’s move on to the image I want to use to help every penis- and breast-wearer understand to see our real roles in a better world.
About wolves and deer and shepherd dogs
In today’s “normal”, people too often think it’s the victims, or the weaker ones, who MAKE themselves the prey. As if a deer standing on a clearing looking YUMMY (but that’s of course the predator’s perspective) is the reason the wolves couldn’t help themselves. As if being made of tender flesh was an invitation, and animal instincts take over at the sight or smell of the prey. Naturally. Erm.
As if men were THAT helpless.
So should the deer step off the clearing?!
Of course NOT. Because in our metaphor, wolves and deer by law are equal! Attacking deer is forbidden. And still we seem to be raising our girls like injustice is their fault. As if they were just that: tender, helpless, yummy deer that mustn’t alert the wolves: “Don’t dress in short skirts, don’t laugh too loud, don’t drink, don’t walk alone, don’t …be yourself at all! There are WOLVES out there.”
Please, no. NO!
Most men have no idea of the lengths women go to to protect themselves from everyday assault …
But yeah, in this “normal” world society is telling girls and women to AVOID assault, to step off the clearing, to hide, be harmless. To not be themselves, while the predators are allowed all the brazenness. I ask you, is this fair?
In a new “normal”, we should make sure that assault is AT ONCE and properly punished, and the wolves kept at bay. Otherwise, they take advantage of our weak defence, try their luck, seek the power play. And yes, too much is accepted – by silence, or shifting blame.
The wolves are allowed too much
Today’s “normal” has few boundaries for the wolves (yet!). You can become Supreme Court judge against credible testimony of your character’s predator-attitude, despite open lies. As long as you wear those all-important drooling fangs – erm, a penis – that is. Preferably a light-coloured penis which is like a sceptre to command the world. Because the world and its riches (including women) are that penis’s vessel – or their fangs’ food. And as HE will be protected, supported and defended by his powerful pack – who also wear penises in light colours – HE thinks it’s “normal” behaviour to prey on weaker ones. Or at least it’s accepted.
And don’t the predators have it easy in a world in which the deer shy easily and rarely ever use their antlers? What is worse: they are not even TAUGHT to use them!
A lot would be different if girls and women had the confidence to stand up for each other, whenever. We’re 51% of the world population. Plus our allies. It shouldn’t be so hard to prevent everyday assault.
Bring in the shepherd dogs
So. How can the deer live more carefree in a world where theoretically deer and wolves are equal and preying is forbidden?
There’s a third breed: Men who are strong and wise and respectful. I know many of those! They are the MAJORITY! Would they even see themselves as wolves, a threat to the weaker ones? Surely not. They clearly are a different breed; they wouldn’t think of preying on deer. They have respect. And we need exactly this breed as the deer’s shepherd dogs. In cases when the deer can’t defend themselves. Most often, they forget to defend themselves. Or, like me then, are just too speechless.
Because deer in “this normality” is taught to shy away. You don’t fight back and act strong against wolves. How ridiculous would that be?
Erm. Maybe it would look quite impressive if we formed a line of lowered antlers to fend off a single brazen wolf?
For sure it would. We ARE strong together.
So: Don’t we all carry antlers? Don’t we all know what it’s like to become prey?
Plus we have shepherd dogs, too, even though some might need a very sharp whistle to react to our call (like hubby did then, hehe).
If we all stood close, not yielding at the wolves’ ugly fangs … If we didn’t let their evil pack single us out, corner us, and later silence us – we would indeed create a “new normal”!
The wolves would fail more often, would have to slink off or carry the consequences of their attacks, because they would be chased off by either the deer’s antlers, the shepherd dogs, or our shepherds (the institutions. Most courts in the world have the legislation in place to protect the deer. It’s a shift in credibility and respect that’s needed to really teach the wolves a lesson, not the deer.)
What to teach the deer and dogs in a new normal
So how do I raise my daughter in today’s “normal”? Surely not as helpless deer. Go the fuck away with pink ribbons.
We DO wear antlers. We know how to use them. We know the smell and tactics of wolves better than ever before. We can talk about it, we have #metoo, #heforshe, and more discussion and statistics.
Apart from the 51 percent of humans on this planet who are women and therefore plenty of should-be allies … there is an uncounted number of SHOULD-the damn-ALSO-be allies: the bystanders., the shepherd dogs. Those I KNOW! Our fathers, neighbours, colleagues, and friends, who have always proven total respect. And not only to me, whose sharp antler-sass scared off any wolf so far.
Will they now look and bark and bite if necessary to protect the weaker ones?
Show some fangs
We, the fellow deer, and YOU GUYS, the shepherd dogs, must not hide in the bushes, but step onto the clearing and stand with the attacked or intimidated.
How can all the decent men and women be silent if someone is attacked, and maybe wounded for life? How can any man sneer, look away, or else join in with the bad wolves? How can other women just shrug and suppose it was the victim’s fault?
If you’re “normal” you should have empathy, and “normal empathy” means you can smell or SEE the fear before and the pain after an attack. Even if it’s verbal. It doesn’t take breasts for that, just a good nose.
So what, in a “new normal” world, would a group of good shepherd dogs have to do to defend their deer?
Yes, you guys can do it, for all the amazing women surrounding you:
Show some fangs.
Let’s create “a new normal”.
I would very much like to hear your opinion and experiences. What else can be done, now, by everyone? How should we raise our kids, how reacto to assault? Let’s discuss, with respect 😉