So many things about the trial of Jian Ghomeshi scare me and lead me to consider what I should tell my 11-year-old daughter about this case. Because how can any of the details of this trial possibly make sense to a trusting, doe-eyed beauty at the cusp of adolescence?
If ever there was a time to speak to our daughters and our sons, it is now, when we speak of consent in the world of relationships, of manipulation and of mental illness.
We must talk to our kids of these issues. So, I'm going to try. Herewith: What we can learn from the trial of Jian Ghomeshi, and other sad and scary things to tell my daughter.
This news story is a sickening one: Talk of women being allegedly blindsided with punches to the head in the name of foreplay, of them allegedly bashed against cement walls, of courageous women agreeing to press sexual-assault charges only to be ridiculed on the witness stand. What, on earth, do I tell my intelligent and social-justice-minded daughter about this?
I must tell her that there are people in the world who would take pleasure from her pain, that one must be strong and not be with these individuals, that one is never deserving of being abused or attacked or harmed. I must tell my daughter that no matter what a woman is wearing or saying, or where she happens to be, she is never "asking for it."
Sadly, I must tell my daughter that there are people in the world who enjoy hurting others and although this is hard to understand, it is a truth. There are good people in the world and there are bad people -- people who choose to be destructive to others -- and this is a truth. This is true in the bedroom and in the boardroom, in politics and in religion, and it is true in every country of the world.
I must tell her that if someone is mean to her or hurts her, or God forbid, ever hits her, she must leave them.
I must tell her that if someone ever hurts her, it has nothing to do with her. Nothing. I must tell her -- my compassionate, loving child -- that she cannot fix a person like this, change this person, heal this person. That responsibility belongs to that individual alone, not to her.
I must tell my daughter that when she grows up, if she ever finds herself attracted to someone -- even loves someone -- who is not good for her, that this is not healthy. And if she ever obsesses about someone like this, she should engage a professional therapist for help in understanding why she believes she deserves this type of treatment.
I must tell my daughter that fame, or the prospect of it, makes people do strange and unexpected things.
I must tell my daughter that when in stressful situations where her account of a story is being questioned, she must speak confidently, carefully and truthfully, and not let anyone else put words in her mouth -- no matter how intimidating they are, how educated or fancily dressed.
And lastly, this Ghomeshi trial reminds me, especially when I tuck my baby into bed and visualize a golden aura of protection around her (trying not to panic as my imagination swirls with this talk of alleged sexual predators), to tell my daughter to trust her gut. It is everything.
I must tell her that if she senses something is strange, even to the slightest degree, when she's with someone, she needs to pay attention. She needs to trust her gut -- it will save her. When I am not there, when I'm long gone, I must tell my daughter to trust her gut. It is what she and all wise women must do.
Illustration: ©Katy Dockrill, i2iart.com
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