By Kimberly Valzania
Dear Little Baby Girl Child Nestled in my Arms,
I see you looking up at me, with big brown eyes. I see you smiling. Happy to be clean, cradled, and loved. Safe, innocent, with your tiny, feminist fist already flailing and pumping.
A girl baby without a story. No stories at all to tell, just yet.
An empty canvas of a life, just waiting for paint.
Maybe by the time you are older, old enough to do all the things you will surely dream of doing, all of this sexual predator stuff will be a thing of the past. Maybe you will grow up in a world where people do not behave this way. Where men, especially, do not prowl and prey. Where some men do not look for a way to pounce first, and then deny or downplay.
Maybe you will not know how it feels to be bullied by a boy, or passed over for a boy. Maybe, for example, you will raise your hand to answer a math question in class, and you will be called on by your teacher. Maybe your teacher will champion your worth, your potential, your intellect…at the very same time you recognize it in yourself.
If something happens, maybe you will be believed the first time you tell your story. Maybe your words will be all the proof they need. Maybe your voice will not ever be muffled, or bought. Maybe your body will not be consumed, or judged, or hurt, or caught.
Maybe, just maybe, you will simply feel equal because that’s just the way things ARE in the world.
As you grow, I hope that you never have the discomfort of that feeling we women get whenever a man is too persistent, or past inappropriate. Maybe you will never know what it feels like when a man lurks, or stalks, or gives you the straight up creeps.
Perhaps this perversion will be eradicated from our social system by way of laws and reforms, and women marching, shouting, and demanding. Maybe your foremothers will offer you a world, a playing field, where you need not worry about such things. Where you can be yourself and pursue your happiness in a way that does not involve protecting yourself from assault or harassment first. Maybe you will not have to listen to your grown man teacher make comments about your legs or your chest, as you walk the halls of your high school. Maybe the father of the kids you babysit won’t ask you for a blowjob on the ride home when you’re 14 years old. Maybe you will grow up trustful instead of leery because these types of things just don’t happen anymore.
Maybe, just maybe, you’ll live in a world where a man won’t ask if he can masturbate in front of you. Where a man won’t grope or touch you without your permission. Where you won’t be cornered in a room behind a locked door. Where someone doesn’t threaten to fire you if you tell. A world where a man won’t drop a drug into your drink so you won’t remember anything that happens so you will blame yourself. A world where you don’t have to be careful about every move you make, every mistake, and every step you take. A world where you can have fun and make bad decisions and wear something sexy without waking up behind a dumpster. Maybe you will live in a world where you will not be shamed for putting yourself in that position in the first place.
But, little baby girl child, if you must defend yourself at some point, if you must stand up for yourself, be sure to do it with heated conviction. Scream his name. Write it down. Shout it from the rooftops. Tell EVERYONE you know. Talk about it. Go to the police. Make it known to all who matter, and all who will listen. Carry a whistle. Carry mace. Carry pepper spray. Carry an alarm. Attach it to your waist. I don’t care if you live in the country with your dog and all your neighbors are nice. I don’t care if you’re jogging down your street during the day, or if you’re just at work. CARRY A GODDAMN ALARM. Your story is the truth, but just to be sure, try to gather proof. Proof seems to be the winning ticket. People with the authority to make changes and prosecute can not deny what they see and hear and yes, they always want proof.
My hope beyond hope is that you will look at me, when I tell you my story, the story of what a man did to me, and you will wonder what I’m even talking about. Your eyes will go big again, and you will be incredulous at my warnings. I want the subjects of assault and harassment and misogyny to be foreign to you, to just be things from the past you can’t relate to at all. For you to be so wondrously removed from them that you have to GOOGLE their definitions.
Maybe you will listen to me and my story and you will be disgusted, but you won’t understand. Not really. In the same way I don’t understand why women were not allowed to vote, or why girls had different rules for basketball than boys, or why a woman couldn’t get a loan without a man to cosign, I want you to NOT understand this.
I pray that you never understand this.
Little baby girl child, I want you to grow up in a society where you must simply wonder about the disgusting nonsense of the past because it is so very far from your own reality.
When you are a woman, I want you to look at me with your big brown eyes, and I want you to smile the smile of trusting, unapologetic, independent, adventurous, unaffected HAPPINESS.
I want you to be a woman who paints her own canvas with every color imaginable, every blended hue available in this precious world.
Just another fulfilled woman with a million fabulous stories to tell.
Kimberly Valzania practices mindful gratefulness. She is driven to write about the truth-seeking struggle of simply being human. Words follow her wherever she goes, and as they tumble out, they are sorted into organized piles and delivered via poetry and short essays. Her articles are featured on Scary Mommy, Rebelle Society, The Elephant Journal, BonBon Break, The Minds Journal, and The Manifest-Station. She is currently working on a novel. Read more at her website eatpraypost.com.
On Being Human
Join Jen in Western Massachusetts at Kripalu
March 2 @ 7:30 pm – March 4 @ 11:00 am
For women and non-gender conforming humans.
Get ready to become more free as you tell the truth about who you are and listen fiercely to others doing the same. Get ready to create what it is you truly want for yourself. This program is an excavation of the self, a deep and fun journey into questions such as: If I wasn’t afraid, what would I do? Who would I be if no one told me who I was?
Go beyond your comfort zone to explore what it means to be creative, human, and free—through writing, asana, and maybe a dance party or two! Jennifer’s focus is less on yoga postures and more on diving into life in all its unpredictable, messy beauty.