copyright, 2019, Rita di Ghent
We need to school our daughters. Sheltering them has its own way of harming them.
I was listening to the radio on the drive home. A show was featuring a retrospective of a famous music producer. I won't perpetuate his fame by mentioning his name. Suffice it to say that he has created some of the world's most memorable and beloved tracks. As a musician, my interest was piqued. I wondered why I didn't know a single thing about someone so famous, someone whose music was woven sparkling and profound into the fabric of my youth. As soon as I got home, I researched and found a documentary on him. I sat down and watched. I wasn't prepared for what I learned.
The man, now in jail, is a modern-day Bluebeard. The man who could conjure such beauty on record was the same man who regularly held women hostage and threatened to kill them if they left him. I guess in both cases those endeavours require charm...and intelligence...and most of all, power. The kind of power that many women wish would rub off on them so that they can finally stop struggling for survival, get a break, be recognized for who they are.
So, this modern-day Bluebeard (MDB) got away with his sinister behaviour for 20 years. And then he got caught. The first jury had one member, an engineer, who believed there needed to be exact proof, like an actual video of MDB killing the victim, before he would submit a verdict of guilty. And so it was that MDB walked. The District Attorney was a good and principled man who wouldn't quit, and he successfully brought MDB to trial for a second time. This time, MDB was found guilty and thrown in the slammer.
I watched the documentary yesterday. It was the same day I found out about a certain rapper who was arrested for criminal sexual abuse with minors.
All this got me thinking about my youthful past. How many close calls I had. How free-spirited I was. How I left home at age 15. How I left again at age 18 with a knife shoved in my boot and a broken-off car antenna hidden inside my jacket. How the men circled around me and jockeyed and inwardly drooled. How on one level I was naive and oblivious to it all and drawn to the attention like a shooting star is drawn to the Earth.
Wanting attention is a powerful operator. It can drive us to achieve our potential. It can also drive us to our deaths.
In the case of the woman who MDB killed, she was a then-40-year-old very beautiful, very kind, and much-beloved woman who never quite reached her Hollywood dreams. To make ends meet, she was working as a door person at a club. One night, MDB showed up. The woman refused him entry because she didn't recognize him right away. Another staff member pointed out her folly, she let MDB in, and for the rest of the night the woman was uber "nice" to MBD--in order to make amends.
Girls are taught from an early age to be "nice". Niceness is our currency. Nice is what we're expected to be. Niceness is also a dark force that leads us to our emotional or even our real deaths. It trumps our Intuition. It makes us choose the wrong mates, the wrong jobs, the wrong paths. It makes us second-guess our true, highly instinctual natures. It opens the door and beckons to Bluebeard.
At the end of the evening, at 2:00 a.m., MDB was leaving the club. He suggested the woman come to his place for a drink. He had to cajole her. Cajole her and exert his power over her. Meanwhile, her intuition was jumping up and down in her apron pocket saying "Don't go! Say no! There's danger ahead!" But the woman felt bad and thought she should probably be "nice". After all, she had embarrassed him. She also thought that this powerful man might somehow rub off on her; that a new corner might be turned; that her gifts might--finally!-- be recognized. That was her big mistake.
Once at MDB's house, she didn't even take off her coat. Her handbag was still over her shoulder. Now she was following her Intuition, but alas--too late. When she wanted to leave, MDB commanded her to stay with him. When she refused, he ran upstairs, grabbed a revolver, and killed her dead.
I remember being a young woman walking home alone at night and hearing footsteps behind me. I knew it was a man because it was unlikely that another girl would be walking home alone in the dark. I knew, because the footsteps were determined. I knew, because of the nearness of them. At the time I was too "nice" to cross over to the other side of the street. I didn't want the man to feel bad about himself... Now, not all men who walk behind you at night are gauging the waters. Some are just oblivious. But the thing is, the crucial thing is, that every single time that a woman hears footsteps behind her on a lonely street at night, she must choose to not be "nice".
As Mother Wolves (or Auntie Wolves, or Guardian Wolves), we need to school our girls that "wise" is better than "nice". That doesn't mean we should squelch our girls' natural loving and loyal hearts, or their tenderness, or their easy way of smiling, or their willingness to care. It means that we need to teach them to hear their Intuition when it talks to them. We need to teach them "If something twigs your 'Spidey senses', run!" "If someone is talking to you in a convincing tone, run!" "If someone says that something bad will happen to you if you don't do what they say, run!" We need to teach them to listen to their Intuition first and ask questions later.
So how do we get this out? How do we reach the masses of Older Women Folk who need to do the teaching and the Young Women Folk who need to receive the teachings? What if we started a new social media movement for girls: #WiseNotNice? Wouldn't that be nice?