Last night I watched a youth group perform Christmas Carols. As I looked at their timid but cheerful faces, I was reminded of my students back in Shanghai. Whom I imagine would grow up to be upstanding citizens. Whom I could never imagine becoming people like Lukas or Carlos.
And I bet that as you read the previous chapters, you judged Lucy and Helen even more harshly for being with men like them.
Before you take the “I would never” superior-than-thou attitude (which I too had at one point), just know there’s a background story to everyone.
Mine is simple: I have an amazing support network of family and friends. They have no problem giving me a kick in the arse when necessary, and I know they are always just a phone call away.
As I got to know the girls better in the upcoming months, I realized that not everyone has what I have. When Crazy Maria told me about her emotionally abuse stepfather, I was like “Fine fine…you still annoy me! But I guess I can empathize… just a little!”
Everyone has a story that makes you go “Ugh, don’t I feel like an asshole now for judging you!!!”
I suppose even Lukas and Carlos were at one point innocent little kids. Though I’m still convinced they popped out of the womb looking like Mario and Luigi.
I have no solution on how to fix these gender issues, but I have a suspicion that it has something to do with raising boys and girls to be self-respecting, confident men and women with substance. As I always tell my students “When you disrespect others, you are also disrespecting yourself.” And I believe misogyny essentially arise from a place of insecurity.
“How exactly do we do that?”
Well if I knew I’d be famous and chillin’ with Oprah aight?
The best piece of advice I heard was from one of them TED talk ladies who said “Rather than read a million parenting books, just BE the person you want your children to become.” (Totally paraphrased because I forgot which TED talk lady said this.)
With the amount of television I consume, I thought I had lived a thousand lives and knew everything there is to know. But what I learned in my years in Shanghai is that I don’t know much at all. While none of these insights are new or revolutionary, it never meant anything until it hit so close to home.
Though I always say, “You take away what you wish from reading. I absolutely refuse to preach or lecture anything on my blog!”
But I’m a teacher, and I can’t help it.