The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements are proving to be powerful cultural forces, but as Shane Safir and many other mothers and fathers know they’ve created challenges and opportunities for parents.
I’ve been binge-watching the FX show The Americans. It’s about a couple who masquerade as comfortable suburbanites, but are actually Russian spies. It takes place in the 80s, when I became a teenager and long before #MeToo and #TimesUp were common parlance.
In an important scene, the mother, Elizabeth, is training her teenage daughter in self-defense and discloses that she was raped as a young woman. Her daughter’s face crinkles in pain, but Elizabeth says this: “Listen to me. I trained as hard as I could every day. I imagined that man’s face every time I fought… until one day I knew, no one was going to hurt me like that again. And I’m okay. I’m not afraid any more.”
Herein lies the power of the #MeToo moment: We don’t have to be afraid anymore. Of being exposed and shamed, or of exposing and shaming those who have hurt us. We have strength in our shared stories.
Like most woman and many men, I have my own #MeToo stories. Suffice it to say that the current cultural moment has been equal parts empowering and triggering. I often think about what it means to mother a daughter and a son in this era. My little girl just turned 12 and is negotiating every day the complexities of being young woman in a deeply patriarchal and misogynist world.