We approached the new park and started scoping out photo ops. My daughter is almost 15 years old. She and I share a love for photography. Our cameras were poised for the first clicks when a couple guys sauntered over to a bench and plopped themselves down, knees spread, heads cocked. The comments began as low whispers and lusty laughs, as is common from college aged guys in these parts.
“Mama, those guys are making me feel weird.”
“I know, just try to ignore them. Maybe they’ll go away.”
They didn’t. We tried to continue taking pictures. I came up closer to them to see if that would curb their increasing taunts. They whistled. Then they made a comment about my camera. That did it. The following conversation took place in excellent, and very confident Spanish.
“Are you talking to me?” I said, with the tone of a hot and bothered momma. “Because if you are talking to me about my camera then you need to be quiet and leave me alone.” They looked at their shoes. One started to mumble a pitiful apology. “What’s that you say? You say you are sorry? Fine. I accept your apology. And you are not the only one who needs to apologize.” I looked at the other kid. It looked like he wanted to laugh but the embarrassed death stare his buddy gave him convinced him otherwise. He also gave me a halfhearted apology. I looked them both over with a very stern face and continued, “Good. Now you both need to leave us in peace. Please.” They bent their heads down, got up slowly, and shuffled away.
Had they been drunk we would have gotten back into the truck. Had they showed the least inkling of physical initiative by actually rising from the bench and approaching us in aggression we would have headed to our vehicle. Had I never seen this sophomoric behavior that plays itself out almost daily I might have been scared enough to skedaddle. Had they not shown their true docility by a different response to my first question I would have taken Raimy to the truck immediately. But the fact that they just sat there, stunned, and were so quick to apologize, indicated that they needed to be quieted.
After they had gone I went back to Raimy and asked her if she had heard the conversation. She said she saw me confronting them but hadn’t heard anything. I related to her what happened. Her face beamed and she smiled. On her blog today she said I showed, “A lot of girl power!”
Guys here taunt. Girls here flirt. It saddens me to think that girls find this attention validating. It disgusts me that machismo is seen as normal in this country. While I wish my daughters would never have to deal with this kind of situation, it was good for Raimy to watch me take action and not put up with it.
Mothers, we need to teach our daughters to value themselves and be strong. We also need to teach our sons to be respectful. That begins by modeling confidence, strength, and respect. Know today that you are worth it. You matter.