Thursday, July 6, 2017

He Sees It: How the World Treats Women

The other day I was at a local public swimming pool sitting in the sun, worrying about getting a sunburn, realizing that wearing my sunglasses made it possible to people watch without people feeling watched. Most importantly my son was having a wonderful time and meeting new friends. The day was lovely and coolish.

But something happened that has stuck with me all week.
There was a young girl walking toward me on the tarmac, walking past the Lazy River. I saw this older guy with grey chest hair and an inner tube around his waste looking at this girl. Not just looking at her but raking his eyes over her. In fact, the word raking is an absolutely perfect word to describe what his eyes did to this very young girl.

My body went stone cold.

John is the super white kid
next to the girl's classmate...
to give you an idea of his age.
A little bit later my son told me that the girl in question is twelve years old, he'd met her in the climbing wall like with a young pool friend; John's school friend and the girl were in the same class at school. John said Look at the size of that girl's breasts, Mom. Life is not going to treat her well. And MEN! I feel sad for her.  I did too. She was only twelve and already getting these vile looks.

A little bit later John and I were in the car listening to NPR's story about women in Turkey getting abuse and even public physical conflict for the slightest cultural infraction of modesty, from showing a wrist to smiling in public. How do you women do it, John asked, how do you do it?

Want to read more?
A Letter to my Son
Seven Stages of Man
Heart Outside of My Body
He's So Scawy


  1. I feel bad but it is why I still make Natalie wear a rash guard at the pool. She has a swimming top that shows not an excessive amount but for an 11 year old girl kind of does. I do remember getting crap at the pool at her age and remember feeling massively uncomfortable because of the size of my breasts. She does too already because she hunches over instead of standing up straight. And I don't blame her but it sucks what we have to do to avoid these kinds of behaviors from males. I worry about her in middle school and high school and beyond. The world can be awful to women and the younger one is to hit puberty, the harder it can be.

    1. But why should YOU feel bad?
      You are a very aware mom who is proactive!
      I know you will do the right thing for her.

    2. It goes against ideas that girls should be able to wear what they want and not be slut-shamed and I totally agree with that, HOWEVER, having been an early bloomer myself, it gets very uncomfortable when an older guy would come up to me and ask me my age or when a friend of mine pointed out that the pizza guy stared at me the entire time I bounded down the stairs. Finding swimsuits for her has become a challenge and what she has for a swim top shows more than I feel comfortable with being the mom of an 11 year old girl. Heck, I myself wear a swim top with my swimsuit and partly because I show too more than I want to having a rather ample bust!

      There's a practical thing behind it too. This is not a new thing with me pushing rash guards. My girls have been wearing them for years, as soon as I could find them. I don't have to put as much sunblock on them. My six year old even has two piece swimsuits and the tops are more like t-shirts. Natalie did have this adorable little lady bug swimsuit when she was a baby that just went across the top of her chest and that's probably the most she ever bared in a swimsuit when she wore one!


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