In case you missed it earlier, my wife and I are spending a week on the road with our three-year-old daughter. We're heading to a family reunion in Ontario's beautiful Sunset Country and, in what may prove to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad decision, we decided to drive. And camp. In a tent.
We are hitting the road on July 31, arriving in Eagle River (near Dryden) on August 2, then turning around and heading home on August 4, with plans to take a more leisurely pace and arrive home August 7.
And since road trip
misery bliss should be a spectator sport, we're live blogging/tweeting the entire thing here! Enjoy!
Oh and please note, since we won't always have quality web access on the road, we've disabled the comments on the liveblog itself as they require moderation and it's tough to moderate comments via semaphore. You're welcome to comment on this Yummy Mummy post though. In fact, please do! It may be our only connection to the relative sanity of the outside world when we're laying sleepless in a tent on the shores of Lake Superior.
Oh and if the liveblog is a little slow, check out this song, which inspired our #RocksAndTrees2013 hashtag!
As a 6'3 heavy-set dude, I rarely (read: never) have lewd comments or unwanted compliments directed at me whilst I stroll down the street or ride on public transit. For that reason, perhaps, I never really stopped to consider how often such treatment is directed at women or how it might affect them.
However, as I listened to an interview with Julie Lalonde, head of Hollaback Ottawa, an anti street harassment advocacy group, on our local CBC station earlier this week, it suddenly dawned on me that—if things don't change soon—my daughter likely will experience this sort of street harassment as she gets older. And it occurred to me that we shouldn't have to wait until we're personally affected by something negative to take action. So I reached out to Julie to ask what concerned citizens can do to help prevent street harassment as well as what parents can do to help their kids deal with it. She was kind enough to share more than a few thoughts.
How do you define street harassment?
The best street harassment definition out there was penned by Holly Kearl from Stop Street Harassment. "Unwelcome words and actions by unknown persons in public places which are motivated by gender and invade a person's physical and emotional space in a disrespectful, creepy, startling, scary, or insulting way."
But most people call street harassment really ridiculous things like 'cat calls,' which is offensive on its own because NEWSFLASH: Women are not cats.
As parents, how can we be good role models for our kids around this issue?
What's important to remember about street harassment is that it's the most pervasive form of gender-based violence but also the most normalized. It's ubiquitous but most of us don't even think about it. Not critically, anyway.
We need to teach our young men to respect women's bodies and counter the message that says that women's bodies are public property. We also gotta be real with them in telling them that street harassment is the least effective way of getting a date!
Street harassment is not about paying women compliments. It's about putting women in their place and more often than not, it's about men trying to impress other men. We have to change the culture that says that to be a real man is to disrespect women.
We need to teach our young girls to never lose their rage. Whenever I work with young girls, I am struck by how enraged they are about street harassment. Because it's a new phenomenon for them, they are still thinking about it and realizing that they can't navigate the streets the same way they did pre-puberty. DON'T LOSE THAT ANGER. You are entitled to being upset about this.
Don't internalize it; don't hate your body; don't hide yourself. They are in the wrong, not you.
As a parent of a daughter, how can I equip her to deal with these situations if they arise?
I think I kinda answered that in question #2 (Sorry!) But I think the greatest gift we can give our young women when it comes to street harassment is validating their right to navigate public space as much as men. So often, women internalize the messages that our bodies are the problem. If we didn't dress that way, walk in those neighbourhoods, wear bright colours, talk so loud, etc, etc, etc that we wouldn't be experiencing this stuff. And that's false.
What's the biggest thing we can do as concerned citizens to put an end to this behaviour?
We need bystander intervention. If you're a man seeing another man street harass someone, call him out. Either intervene directly, delegate to someone or create a distraction. Men need to be calling out other men on this behaviour because the reality is, when women do it, it's dismissed. We need to create a new male peer culture that condemns this stuff.
Regardless of how you identify, we need to validate people when they talk about their experiences. No more writing this stuff as a compliment or a nuisance. It's a form of violence that harms our entire community. And if you're in a situation where you see somebody being harassed, your silence and inaction are giving the creep in question a 'Get out of jail free card.' That's gotta stop.
WARNING: The headline and subhead above are purely theoretical. For now, at least.
At the very end of July, my wife and I will be packing up the car and hitting the open road. A roundtrip of nearly 4,000 km in a week with nothing but several tanks of gas, hours of music loaded on the iPod and the sights and delights of the Canadian Shield to entertain us.
Oh and a preschooler. Did I mention the preschooler?
Yes, dear readers, in less than two weeks we'll be venturing forth into the mighty wilderness in search of adventure, excitement and, ultimately, a family reunion in Northwestern Ontario's beautiful Sunset Country. And in case that wasn't a bold enough challenge, we've decided to forgo the comforts of home and camp the entire way.
Like in a tent.
On the ground.
I mentioned there'll be a preschooler, right?
Frankly, I'm looking forward to it. Sure it'll be... interesting... to log 700 km in one day with a three-and-a-half-year-old passenger, only to have to sleep on the ground at the end of it but, as we realized while plotting our route, that's still only 7-8 hours of the 12-13 hours my daughter is usually awake in any given day. Factor in an hour or so at either end of the journey for set up etc and that still leaves a couple of hours with... nothing planned.
Nothing. No sports class. No daycare dropoff. No "just one last email for work." Nothing but family time and the great outdoors. If we see a lake we want to stop at for a swim, we stop and hit the water. If we decide to check out the world's largest somethingorother, we can check it out.
Compare that with the stress of getting to the airport, getting through security and getting on a plane whilst wrangling a three year old, only to have to convince her to sit quietly for three hours. If the kid gets antsy on a flight there's no stopping at the nearest playground, that's for damn sure.
Getting together with my extended family was going to be great, no matter what. But thanks to our grand roadtrip camping adventure, the journey will be just as memorable, interesting and enjoyable as the destination.
Well, memorable at least.