Cat calls, gross remarks, disrespect. Most women have had this happen at some point in their life. Sometimes it happens many, many, many times over the course of their life. Whether they are walking down a city street, going for a run, or walking into a bar they are susceptible to such shitty behavior from men. How many times I have had men make remarks to me that were disgusting, slanderous, or just downright wrong — well I could not count it on my two hands. If that is the case for me, what does that mean for countless women? Why do we put up with it?
Of course there is the fact that often we are out at night and potentially it is not safe for us to stand up for ourselves. We want to be safe and so it is easier to walk away, brush off the comments, and move on with our life. Of course there are times when a woman hears a comment from a man she walks by and she thinks: “Damn I look good today.” Most of the time though the comments are not satisfactory. They do not promote a positive outcome or a feeling of self-worth.
If you are a man does it make you think about what might come out of your mouth? Does it make you want to say something to other men? To tell them to shut up and have some respect for the women in the world?
Life is always full of surprises. At times there are moments that catch us off guard, and a shift happens in our thought. That happened to me after watching this video. A bit of background and some honest transparency. Portland has a high volume of homeless people. Over time it is very easy to be desensitized. After seeing individuals or families asking for money at many intersections you begin to stop seeing them, and honestly you begin to stop trusting that they really are homeless.
I remember living in a neighborhood in downtown Portland a few years ago. An elderly woman would always stand outside of Whole Foods and beg for money. She did not really look that homeless, more just old. She was persistent, and I began to wonder if she was really homeless. A long time later (after we moved to the burbs) I was talking with friends about that neighborhood, and this woman was discussed. A friend said they knew the older woman’s family, and she was not at all homeless. Does that explain the trust issue?
So when I saw this video transformation it brought tears to my eyes. It reminded me that regardless of trust, honesty, or our lot in life we are all still just people. We all still want to be loved, feel like we belong, and have a purpose. It has opened my thought to remember that regardless of what we have each been through, we all deserve to be treated with respect. We do not always know another’s story. While we do not always have to respond with money, we can respond with kindness, prayer, and maybe sometimes bring them food. I hope his transformation impacts you as much as it did me.
We each had someone in our life that very clearly taught us things that we will always remember. My father taught me about respect. It was important to him. Although he sometimes had a funny way of showing his respect to others, (he was not always respectful) we were taught how to respect him. I guess you could say that he taught me what to do and what not to do by his actions.
My father showed us to respect our elders, the things in our home, or the things that we owned and how we should take care of them. In his own way, he maybe made me into a bit of a perfectionist. Since I grew up poor, I did not have many things that many others had. The things I did have I cherished, and took excellent care of them. That has carried through my life to my home, and those comfort items I own today. I think there were multiple people in my life that taught me about having respect for myself. You can tell this by how you react to the way others treat you.
Sometimes I think when another individual is not respectful, it actually starts with them not respecting themselves. Each encounter we have with someone else is a learning experience, and teaches us how we can be better individuals, and how we can treat others better. Whether it is a work situation, or something with a family or friend. Each time you are direct, clear, and say what you need to, it helps for that next time when you might need to speak up and stand up for yourself or another person.
Due to the fact that respect was ingrained into my thinking at a young age, this initiative by “Futures without Violence” resonated with me. It is called: “The Respect Challenge” and asks for individuals to contribute to the question: Who taught you Respect? You will want to check out this video, and I encourage you to submit your answer to their question.
Who taught you about respect? Are you a parent, aunt, uncle, or teacher that is teaching someone about respect?