Those savvy with social media would have seen the #metoo hashtag that flooded cyberspace recently. The recent exposure of the relentless sexually predatory behavior of media mogul Harvey Weinstein opened those floodgates.
Women from every profession, every wage level, every ethnic group, every age suddenly started shouting aloud what has been kept quiet for entirely too long: most of us have suffered unwanted advances from male sexual predators on multiple occasions.
Some of this started to surface last year during the presidential campaign when an ugly tape was leaked with our current president speaking with Billy Bush of Access Hollywood.
His delight in groping unwilling women was dismissed as harmless locker room talk. Unfortunately, such conversation is anything but "harmless." Instead, this represents verbal and mental rehearsal for the acts of molestation and rape.
How many girls and women have been recipients of the very kind of sexual assault that too many men find totally normal? An uninvited kiss on the lips or a pat on the rear or an "accidental" brush or grab — all without even considering the possibility of consent. Most of us. Multiple times. And I'm not even talking about rape.
No place is safe. I personally know entirely too many women who have loved their places of worship or other religious settings and served them well — and there found that they, too, served as prey to predatory staff and clergy.
Now, in the ideal world none of us live in, we would simply work harder at teaching our young men not to act this way. But in the real world we live in, it is the predatory male that tends to get rewarded with accolades and leadership roles, be it church, business or politics. Everyone loves the wicked "bad boy" who lives on the edge. Everybody, that is, except those who are violated by the never-ending sense of entitlement that comes with the persona.
But there is another solution, one that deals with the realities of our non-ideal world and also operates out of the understanding that promoting the well-being of women is the best way to honor the future — and our Creator.
It's actually quite simple. Teach your daughter. Teach your daughter about her body and her responsibility to protect and honor it.
Teach her early and teach her well about the nature of her physicality.
Teach her that she must give active consent for anyone to touch her body and make sure she understands exactly what consent means.
Teach her the astounding pull of her sexual urges and how to deal with them in a way that preserves her health and integrity.
Teach her that way, way too many men, and especially those who see themselves as king of the hill, are sexual predators and view her as the prey.
Teach her that, unfortunately, most men will not "respect her in the morning" despite all pleadings and promises to the contrary.
Teach her to respect, not hide, her anger at male privilege.
Teach her all about birth control and make sure she has easy access to it.
Teach her about sexually transmitted diseases and how those diseases can ravage her body.
Teach her the importance of planned and wanted pregnancies and the privilege of being the one who can bring forth new life.
Teach her self-defense techniques and make sure she practices them diligently.
Teach her that she has a voice and has every right to raise it and to speak out, very loudly when necessary, if someone does something to her without her permission.
I wish my mother had taught me these things. It is time to do better for those coming behind us.
I hate the suggestion that men are the enemy. I have three sons, now fine men who love their wives and help rear their children. I married a truly decent man. I know many good men and there are lots more like them.
But our daughters must gain wisdom in self-protection. Predators abound. Most have mastered beguiling disguises. Courts rarely dispense justice for females, nor do legislators, politicians, corporate or media executives or entirely too many religious leaders.
Women must stand up and loudly speak out our protests. We shall have to be willing to pay the price necessary to gain business, political and religious power and move toward a more just world.
We must teach our daughters about the privilege we, and only we have, of bringing new life into the world. We deserve far more respect and support than anyone or any institution offers now.
And finally, we need to make one thing clear. Men in power, who have yet to endure pregnancies, to birth and nurse babies and put their careers on hold to deal with the tough and tender moments of child-rearing, need to do every single thing possible to support healthy women and children and ensure their financial stability.
Email questions to the Rev. Christy Thomas to firstname.lastname@example.org, "like" her Facebook page at Christy Thomas or message her on Twitter at @christythomas, or by mail to: The Thoughtful Pastor, 3555 Duchess Drive, Denton, TX 76205.