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An Unsettling Time

This weekend I find myself troubled and yet even more determined than usual to ensure that we continue to work hard to develop women who are confident and proactive. We must nurture women who are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in, and just as importantly, to stand up for others who are being wronged.

With news of Rehtaeh Parsons, yet another young woman taking her life because of bullying- as a result of others sharing of a photo of her alleged rape, I find myself (as I imagine any person is), very unsettled. The fact that a young woman was sexually assaulted is horrendous enough but to learn that this assault was recorded and then shared is even more disturbing.

How do we ensure that our girls and young women are able to protect themselves without limiting their own activity and participation in what should be a safe society? How can we work to encourage young women to be courageous, independent and fearless?

I believe that focus must be placed on building communities where

  • there is mutual respect amongst individuals regardless of gender, race, culture, religion
  • individuals are welcomed and recognized for who they are
  • individuals are recognized as equals
  • individuals can move beyond fear of being judged such that they will speak up, either for themselves or for each other.

I have referred to Brené Brown before and it is another of her books that I went back to this morning having listened to the news and read several articles about Parsons’ death.

In the Gifts of Imperfection, Brown says “Courage sounds great, but we need to talk about how it requires us to let go of what other people think, and for most of us, that’s scary. Compassion is something we all want, but are we willing to look at why boundary-setting and saying no is a critical component of compassion? Are we willing to say no even if we’re disappointing someone?”

Courage and even compassion are not easy practices. But they are necessary in order to ensure that one is able to stand up and voice concern, and fight injustice.

Our thoughts are with the Parsons family.

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