I’ve been told that I take things beyond where they need to go.
Getting up from a comfortable position on the sofa — and living in Wisconsin, that means removing a warm quilt off my lap — I will walk across a room and in front of my three children, without saying a word, pick up the remote to change the channel if a commercial comes on that demeans women.
We won’t watch it.
When the few magazines we subscribe to come to the house, my three boys know I get them first, to check the pages for inappropriate portrayals of women. Sometimes only half the magazine is left when I’m through.
We won’t have it in the house.
If lyrics come on the radio while we’re driving that suggestively hint about what a woman is for and what to do to her, I’ll push the button down on the radio to turn it off like I’m trying to send it through the dashboard.
We won’t passively listen to it.
My children are used to this behavior from me; I’ve been doing it and talking about why I do it since they can remember. It is my way of showing them what we accept, and what we don’t accept, with women and their portrayal in society. I read and hear on radio, television, the Internet: “This is society and this is our culture. This is how it is. You can’t change it.” The headlines report the news as if we’re not even to examine the epidemic of toxic attitudes.
I can’t control society and media, images of violence against women, assigning women a lesser worth, but I can make a statement through my actions about what I think about what I see. I have always believed that children will watch what we do more than listen to what we say. So I’ll keep doing it.
Do I think I can manage everything about my three boys with what they see and hear when they’re in school or at friends’ homes, especially as two of them will be leaving for college within the next two years? I know I can’t. I know they have seen and heard as much as I have. But I am the first woman my children have ever known, and they watch my reaction, so I will continue with my one-household revolution.
Because there must be a revolution. Even when I’m told it doesn’t matter.
A revolution of what our culture accepts in what is right and wrong with its respect or disrespect of women. I’ll keep taking things beyond where they need to go, as people tell me I do. Because one day when my children are without me, the memories of my physical actions will ping at their conscience like a snapping rubber band and they’ll see me, walking across the living room in search of that remote, tossing out that magazine, taking that stand against females put in a position that objectifies them.
Society may try at every turn to tell my children, through what they see, hear, and read, “This is how women are portrayed in our culture. Accept it, you can’t change it.” But in my small big way and in front of three boys who will one day be men, I can say, “No. No, we don’t have to accept it.”