May 1, 2014
First of all, go HERE and read this comic.
The bit I’ve linked is the perfect example of what I was taught growing up. Granted, I grew up in the 80’s at the height of the DARE program and STRANGER DANGER and it actually was more dangerous back then, especially if you lived in an urban
area. Gang warfare was all over the pre-24/7 news cycle (granted, so was Satanism and we all know how true that actually was) and growing up where I did, in the neighborhood I did, being cautious of the colors you were wearing wasn’t all that stupid an idea. So my mother took the proper precautions, some of which I have passed on to my kids. Her experiences were more personal – she was afraid I’d get snatched by a family member – so no one was allowed to pick me up from school unless I knew them and had been notified by the school that they were coming to pick me up AND had the password.
Yes, I had a password. Without it I wasn’t allowed to go with anyone, even if I was positive it was safe.
Ironically, this password is the same one I use with MY kids. That’s what I took away from the stranger danger excessiveness – passwords are good if your kids are young enough. On the other hand, I got into some really, really stupid shit as a teenager because I didn’t learn how to gauge people on my own. I was taught to always be polite to “cleared” people, so to this day if someone has been “vetted” I struggle with believing anything bad about them. This has allowed me to ignore my instincts, instincts that are shouting at me, during the past few years.
I fall somewhere in the middle on a lot of issues. I believe we should teach our sons not to rape, specifically HOW not to rape, because our society sends young people a TON of mixed messages and teaches inadvertently twisted attitudes tied up in a neat bow of victim blaming and “she wanted it”. But I also believe in teaching our daughters how to be aware of their surroundings and how to make as positive as possible they’re in a perfectly safe situation before giving up 100% control of their bodies to the trust of others. I think everyone needs to learn some kind of self defense growing up in the hopes that you’ll never need to use it but you’ll have it should you need it. (I’m not just talking attack/defense situations either. Simply knowing how to fall properly can help if you trip and could save you a broken bone or sprained wrist/ankle.) I don’t believe in guns for home defense but on the other hand I think everyone should know how to care and fire one (zombie apocalypse, ya’ll. Alien invasion. Lost in the middle of the Hoth arctic. That rampaging Wampa isn’t gonna shoot itself.)
No one should be too scared to travel. Maybe use some common sense in the locations you’re going – know that there’s a chance of getting harassed or potentially hurt if you’re wandering in an extreme area without the proper clothing – but be aware of that and make your choices in an intelligent manner. If this is a hill you’re willing to die on or for, then that is your choice. You have the right to do with your body anything you want so long as it’s not breaking any laws or harming another person. (Given for a certain amount of harm. I’m sure there are people out there who argue flashing ankle is DEEPLY harming to their mental well-being.)
Be smart, be safe, but be true to yourself. Get out there and explore the world if that’s your bag because so far as we know we’re only given one life. I may have chosen a safer existence but I am proud and happy for the folks who spend theirs experiencing the curve of this world.