Since I started writing for Westchester County Moms Blog about dating I have received numerous questions about safety. I answer with my rules:
- Text a friend his picture, name, and contact before a date.
- Let that friend know where you are and when you will check in.
- Meet your date in a public place and stay there, don’t go to a second location.
- Text/call your friend at the end of the date so they know you’re safe.
- Don’t go anywhere private (your place or theirs) until you feel comfortable. Trust your gut!
These rules were established via trial and error. I tried something, erred, and promised to never do it again. Like the one time, after a first date, that I got into his car and he pushed my head down towards his zipper, assuming that’s what I was there for. Or, the time I met a police officer at a bar and went outside with him because it was too loud to talk (and too public to kiss). Then he showed me his gun and suggested we go to his place so he could drop it off. I didn’t want to but I liked him and thought I could trust him; I couldn’t.
In all of these situations, I ignored my gut and let someone else make the decisions for me. I blamed myself for their consequences and promised to never do it again. Even with the rules, though, it’s hard to keep safe. Dating isn’t the only place that women are coerced, intimidated, or frightened.
I remember, as a young teacher, when a colleague tried to get my attention as I walked up the stairs. Instead of saying my name, he reached out to grab me; touching the back of my bare thigh, up under my below the knee skirt. I don’t remember what he so urgently had to ask, just the feeling of his clammy hand.
When I was pregnant and walking down the streets of New York, I learned which to avoid. Groups of men sat on certain stoops or in lawn chairs on particular sidewalks offering to “give me twins” or suggesting that they wanted to feel my baby kick from the inside.
These stories have been relayed to friends with laughs and nods of sympathy. These friends have stories of their own that I can relate to, that we brush off and move on from – together. But, should we?
I can see the tides turning. Women have begun to be believed first and questioned later. The next step in change is for mothers to talk to their children – male and female alike.
Celebrities like Matt Damon have come under fire saying that now, as a father to a daughter, he understands the gravity of the situation. I ask though, doesn’t he have a mother? Shouldn’t he have grown up realizing the effects our culture had on her and her sense of safety? He should and only we as mothers can make sure our children grow up differently.
I ask that we work together. Maybe the next generation won’t have rules women have to pass along to one and other to be safe when they date. Instead, we will all abide by the same rule: consent for all things should be asked for and given with nothing less than joyous approval.