As a young girl I was taught: If a boy teases you, he likes you. If he pulls your pigtails until you cry, he likes you. If he plays rough on the playground with you, he likes you. I learned that this kind of disrespectful behavior from boys is not only accepted, but encouraged.
When I was a teenager, I watched Anita Hill get harassed for courageously coming forward with accusations against a Supreme Court nominee. The experience taught me that women’s accusations are merely seen as unfortunate smear campaigns against men, and that we will be doubly victimized if we dare speak out.
Today, a whole new generation of girls is being taught that same lesson through the accusations of sexual misconduct against Brett Kavanaugh.
As a mother of five daughters, and someone who works on behalf of all girls across New York City including the 31,000-plus girls who are Girl Scouts, I am deeply concerned about the effect that the public’s — and government representatives’ — response to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations is having on girls.
When a girl sees victims getting blamed for assault, she learns that the responsibility for the trauma lies with her, not him.
When a girl hears the refrain that accusations will ruin a boy or man’s life, she learns that his future is more important than her own.
When a girl hears “but it happened so long ago…,” she learns that his slate will be wiped clean while she forever bears a painful history.
When a girl hears “boys will be boys,” she learns that his desires are more important than her bodily autonomy.
Enough is enough.
Until we stop making excuses and hold boys, men and all those who engage in disrespectful and abusive behavior truly accountable for their harmful actions, assault and harassment will remain a normal fact of life. And too many girls will continue to internalize the message that it is acceptable if this happens to them too.
This is not acceptable. Our girls deserve better from all of us and their country.