she said stop

"Stop touching me."
 I look up from where I was scrolling through my Facebook feed on my phone. I had made a quick stop to the local Winn-Dixie to pick up basics, items that I no longer remember even though the incident remains clear. Expecting to see a grown man bothering the woman in front of me, I was actually rather surprised when it was revealed that it wasn't a husband and wife, stranger and stranger or girlfriend and boyfriend. It was a mother and son.
 He couldn't have been more than six years old and his mother looked completely exasperated as she tried to load her groceries onto the conveyor belt.  It was a simply task, but he made it difficult the way he was clinging to her, his arms wrapped around her waist and his face buried in her stomach.
At first thought, I felt for the boy. Did he feel so lacking in affection that he needed to respond like this?
While I'm not sure how his home life is, his behavior was still uncalled for.
"But I love you!" he cries, only tightening his thin arms.
She has her groceries on the belt now, all of them except a package of chocolate milk that he has already drank half of.
"Let me go, please. I need to get your milk."
"I love you mom!"
"I know, let go of me."
It continued, this struggle, for a few more minutes before she finally pried him off of her, snatched the milk from the cart, placed it on the belt...all before he again ensnared her in his arms.
It felt wrong to me, to watch this son wrastle his mother until she was struggling to remove the money from her purse, struggling to return her bagged groceries into the cart and continue on outside, only settling back into the cart once she began to push it away from the register.
I paid for my things and headed out the door myself, the nudging feeling in the back of my mind as I processed the event that had unfolded before me.

I'm not a mother. 

Clarifying that right now.  I understand how being a mother may affect someone to think that, even though their child is being a brat and a bother, they see nothing past a wee bit of childish folly.
"He'll outgrow it," "It's just a phase" "Hes just a kid/toddler/baby."
I love children, I really do.  I loved being a nanny and I hope to eventually return to a child-based ministry.  I get along with kids.
But the truth of the matter is very simple.

"Train up a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
- Proverbs 22:6

She told him to let go of her. He did not. Despite the fact that it was clear disobedience of authority, the largest thing that bothered me is the echo it casts onto rape culture. There is a problem among  male society that the female word and the female body is not respected.  Girls are viewed as property of their boyfriends.  A women can not feel safe at night because she could easily be victimized.  I work as a journalist, and some of my events take place at night and when they do, I always park in the light and near an entrance so I'm not walking in a shadowing parking lot alone for any extended period of time.   I've had events in the quarters side of town where I felt plain out unsafe leaving my car.
Saying "No" or "I don't want to" or "Please don't touch me" is as good as saying nothing to some men.  I could go on and on about how wrong it is.
But this isn't a post for me to rant about how unsafe I feel.

She told him to let go of her. He did not.
Yes, he is six years old. Kids are clingy and selfish and don't like to listen.
There was, to my knowledge, no repercussion of his actions.
She told him to stop touching her. He did not.

Fast forward to where he is eighteen...twenty...maybe older.
It's not his mother now, but a girl, a woman.  She asks him to stop. She asks him to let go of her.

He does not. 

Its far fetched, I know. This little boy may very well grow up to be someone of respect.   It's not really about him, though. He just happened to strike the realization for me.
We teach teens safe sex. We teach them how to be careful. We teach young men how to tie their necktie, how to speak with authority for when they are at work.  We teach them to be leaders, shakers and movers of society (girls too!).

Do we teach them to open doors for girls? To understand that a girl, no matter how tough, is breakable in your fists? "You can crush a girl like a flower, never underestimate her, but never bring your hand against her when she asks you not to."  Who is telling them this?
Girls can do anything boys can do, yes.  This is being taught. Girls are not something to be cherished anymore.
Her value is no longer above rubies because...shes just like you, boys.
Girls need to know their own value, their own worth, that they are powerful ladies who can run in high heels or sneakers, whichever they prefer, and that lab coats fit just as well as the mink coat they want. 
Boys need to know that girls are their equal, but not just like them.
Teach little boys young that their hands are to stay at their sides and the only reason to touch a girl is is with love and respect. (love is not the only reason to touch a girl. Just because you adore her and want to keep her in your grasp does not exactly mean she feels the same). When she says stop, stop.  When she says don't, don't.  Hold the door open for her, kindergarteners can grasp the concept of pulling a chair out for the little girls they know.
Step up teachers, fathers and mothers.

What little men are allowed to do, they will continue to do until they are no longer little.
If we start teaching them  how to respect women when they are grown men and teenagers, we have waited too long and it is that much harder to change the society that makes a girl feel weaker when in a room full of men.


  1. This. Exactly this yes. We need neeeeeed desperately to teach kids respect. I babysit a lot and I actually struggle with this...getting kids to listen to the "No". Particularly when they're my relatives so I want to be the fun aunt, but at the same time...there is nothing worse than a child who doesn't understand "no" because they become adults who don't understand "no" and it's awful.
    I just really loved this post Ashley. Really nicely said! <3

  2. Wow,I would not thought of it that way. Now that I think about it, I should be thinking about it that way.


Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much.
- Blaise Pascal