We are mothers. We have the future of the world in our hands. Our children are the future and everything that we hate about the world will be carried into the future on their shoulders. Or not. It is our responsibility to teach them to build a community that is healthy and strong, but how do we do that? By teaching them to speak up when someone is doing or saying something that does not support a strong, healthy community. Teach them that instead of going along with the crowd when something is not right, for fear that they won't be accepted, to speak up. To say those three magical words "That is not cool".
When a man is sexually harassing a woman.
"Dude, that's not cool".
When someone on Facebook is spreading lies, hatred, statements of bigotry "That's not cool".
When someone raises a hand to another, be it a man, a woman or a child "That is not cool"
When someone talks shit about someone whose shoes they can't imagine "That is not cool"
How many times have we taught our children by example that the polite and proper thing to do is remain silent while someone makes the atmosphere completely awkward by ranting on about that nr president and how all his kind does is collect welfare.
You know what sir: that is not cool. My father is a black man, Oh you couldn't tell because my skin is white? Odd that. My father never collected welfare, strange thing, but I have. So how about you take your bigotry elsewhere because that, sir, is not cool.
Because it is not US being rude by speaking up for what is right. It is the person who thinks it's okay to throw around racial slurs in mixed company who is being rude and he needs to be corrected.
Why "That's not cool", as opposed to something more, I don't know, articulate and maybe intelligent? Because everything in our society comes down to being cool. It's the truth. You thought you left that shit back in High School, but I have news for you: High School never ends. Every social interaction is an effort to be seen as interesting and fun or clever and enlightened, an effort to fit in, to be someone people want to hang out with or look up to, to be cool.
When people make comments that make us uncomfortable, what do we do? We LAUGH. Because the alternative is outside of our comfort zone, in a place where someone might not think you are interesting and fun. Where someone might thing you don't fit in. Where someone might think you aren't cool.
So we laugh, or just smile awkwardly. We give positive reinforcement. We reassure a person who is behaving in a way that perpetuates the worst our society has to offer that he or she is indeed cool. We need to quit that shit and we need to teach our kids not to do it in the first place.
How many times have you seen a picture of a woman posted on Facebook with comments about how she's asking to get raped, or how no one would rape her because she's so fat. Those comments are not cool. What do you do if this makes you uncomfortable? Silently un-friend the person who shared it? Not good enough. Silence is consent. Let them know it's not cool- and let your kids know while you are at it. Then you can un-friend them. (The poster, not the kids.)
It is time for decent people who know right from wrong, who value society, who teach their children to say Please and Thank you and Yes Sir and Ma'am to also teach their children to say "No, that is not cool"
It is not cool that you speak racial slurs in front of me.
It is not cool that you make misogynist remarks in front of me.
It is not cool that you make rape references in my hearing.
It is not cool that you say cruel things about the less fortunate.
It is not cool that you should wish death, pain or misfortune on anyone who has done you no harm.
And it is not cool that we should continue to model this pacifistic behavior to our children. All our polite silence is doing is putting the present social problems that we despise on their shoulders for them to carry into the future.
Complacency allows sexual violence to exist in our society. Complacency allows discrimination to exist. Complacency allows hate crimes to exist. Complacency is comfortable, it keeps friends, it doesn't make waves and it allows perpetrators to feel vindicated. Speaking up is uncomfortable, it loses friends, it makes waves, but more importantly, it lets perpetrators know that they are NOT vindicated. If people don't know that what they are doing is inappropriate, why would they stop?
It's time to speak up. It's time to say "That is not cool".
One small step to saving the world.
Here's some encouraging news from Kenya regarding teaching boys about sexual violence. Because if you don't teach them it's wrong, how are they to know? http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/23/us-kenya-sexual-violence-idUSKBN0MJ25V20150323
More information about this program at http://nomeansnoworldwide.org/
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