26th June 2022.
Sitting on a wall, looking out to sea, headphones on. In a world of her own. Or at least trying to be. She looked about 15 or so and the boy, balancing on the wall, clearly getting on her nerves looked a couple of years younger. I assumed he was her annoying little brother.
I watched this scene of typical sibling interaction as I walked across the beach at weekend. And as I did so I caught their mum’s eye and smiled. The sun was shining, I had ice cream and I appreciated the normalcy of the family life I witnessed in strangers around me.
“Go Away!” the girl shouted. He didn’t. “Go Away!” he still didn’t Again she shouted, a little louder this time “Go Away!” It was at this point the mum looked up, saw me looking at them and smiling and then turned around to deal with the squabble.
“Stop Shouting!” she chastised her daughter.
And a little bit of me died inside.
I wanted to take the girl by the shoulders, look her in the eye and say “No, don’t stop shouting”
“Don’t ever stop shouting”
“Your voice is important”
“And if a boy is invading your personal space, you shout, at the top of your lungs, you shout and shout and shout”
But I didn’t. Because it wasn’t my place.
We teach our little girls to be quiet, to be demure, not to make a fuss.
And then when women are sexually assaulted or harassed, we ask them why they didn’t say no, or shout or fight back.
Teach your daughters to shout. Teach them to make their voice heard. Teach them to say no and to assert their boundaries.
Our daughters matter and their voices need to be heard.