She only found out about sex recently. She’s seven.
When my family moved into our new house, one of the most wonderful things about it was the fact that it was in a really safe security complex, with its own park. Children here run around outside and play with each other.
This sort of freedom has been amazing. My kids’ health and energy have noticeably improved. My daughter has made some good friends and she loves to go out and play with them.
I told my kids about sex soon after we moved. I realized if I didn’t, someone else would. When I had “the talk” with them, my son was embarrassed, but my daughter was horrified.
The whole thought of sex seems to make her uncomfortable and even frightened, and she only seemed comforted once I explained that some people choose never to have sex and that’s OK.
That was a few weeks ago. Today, she came home to tell me that some boys were telling her that she had to have sex with one of her friends now because he must be her boyfriend. They terrified her. She was frightened that they were going to try force her.
She’s still so embarrassed and scared of the concept of sex, she struggled to even say it. She was shaking and began to cry when she told me.
She told me she never wants to go out again.
My daughter has dealt with sexism before. She’s never understood why she gets baby dolls and make-up while her brother gets action figures. She’s had to deal with boys who have told her she can’t like “cool things like the Avengers” because she’s “just a girl”. She doesn’t quite understand why she has to deal with this, but she deals. Those boys are just stupid.
Today those boys broke her.
I had to sit with her, my brilliant child who excels in almost everything she does, who’s bright, friendly, and kind, and watch her crying, shaking with fear, because boys have started using sex as a weapon against her and she just can’t cope.
She says she never wants to go out again.
Sexism and misogyny are bullying techniques designed to silence female voices, and they work. It’s why so many women I know have left a local “sceptics” group that has become ridden with misogynistic voices. It’s why so many women decide not to get involved in engineering or science because of the sexism. It’s why my daughter doesn’t want to go out again.
Boys as young as two wonder around this complex without a fear in the world, but my daughter is officially too scared to because what’s safe for boys is too dangerous for girls.
This is our world, and as I sit with my seven year old daughter, in tears, wanting to know why she has to deal with this, I don’t know what to say. “It’s because you’re a girl” just doesn’t seem like justification enough.