A fight broke out on the playground over who got to hold Fiona’s hand. Complete with screaming, yelling, body blocking and shoving. Fiona wasn’t pleased by any of it and the boy who lost his temper most severely was abandoned in her affections, despite her initial friendship with him.
She announced that, “I have two hands!”
He refused to hold her other hand, insisting instead that, “You belong to me. You were my friend first.”
She replied, “No. I belong to me. You can be my friend though.”
She’s been listening, when I tell her that she can make her own choices and that she belongs to her. And though, truth be told, the conversations I’ve had were aimed at making her safe in our world, it turns out that they also insulate her against aggressive and jealous children. With any luck, it will carry through to her teen and adult years.
Women in our world need that confidence. The world tells us in a million little ways that our bodies, our hearts, our selves belong to others. We’re supposed to be sexy. (The implicit message being that we only have value if we’re pleasing to the male eye.) We’re supposed to be giving. We’re supposed to be nice. (We only have value when we fulfill the needs and wants of others.)
All of which is a load of unrefined horse manure. We, each of us, belong to ourselves. We have needs and wants and desires and we also have hands to hold. But we don’t belong to anyone. We are not possessions. We are the sole arbiters of who gets to hold our hands. No exceptions.
I hope this sense of self-possession lasts. I hope that the million iterations of “You’re so cute.” and “Look at those curls!” don’t draw her into the belief that her value is derived from others pleasure in her appearance. I hope that I can say that enough times that we value her sense of humor, and her fierceness, and her quick mind, and creative drive often enough to provide a sturdy wall around her developing sense of self. I hope that she continues to belong solely to herself, because in this world of ours that would be a major victory.