It’s me. Your mom. At the time I’m writing this letter, I’m 26. I am awesome. You are not born (or even possible) yet, so I can spend all my money and time on myself. It’s a wonderful life. I assume by the time you’re old enough to read this letter, I will have fallen into the category of Lame Mom. It’s okay. I thought my mom was awful until I got old enough to know better.
The fact is, this is a message I never want to have to give my daughter. I want to live in a world where this is not an issue. Where the only thing you have to worry about if you drink too much is the inevitable hangover. (And sorry, kid, but if you got my genes, you get hangovers. And they are a bitch.) I want to live in a world where if something happens to you, it is not your fault. Where if someone commits a crime, we blame the criminal, not the victim. And hopefully, by the time you’re around, we will live in that world.
But I don’t.
In the world I live in, rape happens. God, I hate that word. I hate that one day I may have a daughter and that word may become a part of her vocabulary. I’m 26, you don’t exist, and I can’t breathe at the mere possibility of it. And the sad fact is, all too often, when a woman is raped in the world I live in, it is her fault. Her fault for wearing a skirt that is too short. Her fault for doing that last shot of tequila. Her fault for being out too late. Her fault for walking home in the dark. Her fault for being fourteen and hanging out with eighteen-year-olds. Her fault.
That’s what they would have us, and one day, you, believe.
They would have us believe that by covering our knees, we can control the impulses of people who want to hurt us. They would have us believe that rape only happens to drunk girls.
It’s not true. We can’t stop people who want to do bad things.
And here is where I’m torn, (unborn) child of mine, because I want you to stay safe. I want you to know that I will always come for you. And I want you to understand that having your wits about you at all times will keep you safer more often than not. I want you to just spend your last twenty bucks on taking a cab home. I will send you more money. I want you to never leave a girlfriend behind — tell her she’s coming home with you. Give her space on your couch and a glass of water. I want you to wear whatever you damn well please, but be aware that people are going to look down your shirt and think it’s an invitation. It’s the world I live in, and I suspect you will live in this same world one day, too.
But if something happens, it’s not your fault. You did NOTHING wrong. You are not the gatekeeper to anyone else’s behavior. The harm done to you has nothing to do with what you drank, what you wore, or where you walked. There are people in this world with evil intentions. Avoid them, but don’t stop living.
And always wake me up when you get home.
**This letter”is part of a series of letters that I have written to people I have never, and may never, meet.