You Are Needed To Shine

We have been called on to shine.

We have been called on to shine.

A late night request to my community —
Whether you are awake late into the night with me now or you read this in the morning or days later, I need something from you.

 

For two days I have had women messaging me, telling me they too were raped. They say thank you for talking about the Stanford case, thank you for sharing his mug shot, thank you for calling him a rapist and not a swimmer.

 

These women tell me they too were raped as a teen or young woman. In the wake of the firestorm around convicted sex offender Brock Turner, they have come to realize they were raped, that what happened to them is rape. They have come to be able to admit it was rape and not some other category of unwanted, coerced, forced sex. All of the discussions on social media have given them the courage to speak for the first time. Some of them have been speaking out all the years I’ve known them.

 

It is just past midnight on my side of the world. I am sitting at my dining room table working in the quiet while my family sleeps. The only way I’ve been able to write about the Stanford rapist Brock Turner is when my children are sleeping because when I look at my daughter while this story is swirling in my head I feel a scream build and rage inside me that would crumble the mountains that surround my home if I were to let it out. So I wait for night.

Night is hard for those of us who survive being raped. Maybe it is because so many of our attacks took place at night. Maybe it is because at night your thoughts always seem so much louder. Maybe it is because the dark makes it more difficult to see and you no longer like surprises. Maybe night is worse because of something primal, something deeply embedded in our brains from the days we lived in caves and were hunters as well as the hunted.
Women and girls should not be hunted. We carry a natural born right to dignity and security. We deserve to not fear the darkness of the night. We deserve to not fear walking home from class. Or fear riding the subway to work. Or fear dancing and flirting with someone, and to have that confused as an invitation to commit sexual felonies on our bodies. Or fear showing up female while in public. Or fear the ability to name ten other friends who have also been raped.

 

We deserve to have parents teach their sons not to rape.

 

We deserve to have society support us with that one, simple request: Teach your sons not to rape.

 

Teach your sons instead to leap off their bicycles to aid a woman in distress, to testify on her behalf in her quest for justice, to share her voice so the world better understands the impact of rape.

 

In her letter to the court, the courageous Stanford victim spoke of offering hope to other rape victims by sharing her story and quoted author Anne Lamott, “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save? they just stand there shining.”

 

“And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you. As the author Anne Lamott once wrote, “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save? they just stand there shining.” Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you. To girls everywhere, I am with you. Thank you.” -Stanford survivor

 

We need a community of light houses around our girls and women.

We need a community of light houses around our girls and women.

So that is what I ask of you. Stand there and shine. Let us know you are a lighthouse. Tell the Stanford survivor you are shining for her. Tell us you are #StandingShining for all. 

 

If you support the women who have shared their experiences with rape, stand there and shine.
If you support girls and women struggling to overcome sexual assault and rape, stand there and shine.
If you support the idea that rape stops when we stop raising rapists, stand there and shine.
If you support the idea a convicted rapist is not brought to justice with light sentencing, stand there and shine.
If you support the movement led by parents to teach consent, respect, and dignity towards all bodies, stand there and shine.
If you support the idea a woman can get blazing drunk and hold the expectation she will not be raped, stand there and shine.
If you want to expose the Rape Culture that allowed the Stanford attack and trial to exist, stand there and shine.

 

Let survivors know you are shining for them.

 

Let parents know you hold their sons to higher standards, and they will be in your spotlight.
Let women know their nights are no longer dark, that we will become a community of lighthouses.

 

Let’s take good care of each other. Let’s stand together and shine.

 

Melissa headshot 1 fb sizeMelissa Atkins Wardy is a speaker, media consultant, and the author ofRedefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualizing of Girlhood, from Birth to Tween”. She is the creator and owner of Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies, a company that has been offering empowering apparel and gifts to Full of Awesome kids since 2009 www.pigtailpals.com.

Find her at www.melissaatkinswardy.com. You can connect with her onFacebook (Pigtail Pals Ballcap Buddies) and Twitter (@PigtailPals) and Pinterest (Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies).

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