Message from Montie

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Should your female child be able to spend the night at someone's house with male relatives?

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Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

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When I was in elementary school, I had a Girl Scout crew that I used to hang out with regularly on Saturdays. And one particular girl was someone I was friends with through high school too. My house used to be the hang-out spot where all my friends would come over for slumber parties, to watch movies, to stop by before we went on shopping sprees with my mother, to sit on the front porch or play with my toys. As my friends and I got older, we also started paying attention to there being more boys than girls on my block, all around our age, and of course the boy crazy ones always wanted to visit. So being that my house was so popular, when this Girl Scout friend of mine told me her grandmother refused to let her spend the night over my house, my feelings were hurt.

 

What was wrong with my house? I had to know. It turns out her grandmother refused to let her spend the night over my house, even though she knew my mother was a Girl Scout leader and she knew me, because she didn't like the idea that my father and teenage brother also lived there. Now imagine someone telling you that they don't want their granddaughter around a father who has raised you your entire life and an older brother who is one of your best male friends regardless of him being seven years older.

 

She'd never met my father or older brother, and my friend had only met my older brother briefly through me, who as all older brothers do, cracked a few jokes and walked away dismissively. What in the world did she think my father or brother were going to do to her?

 

My mother respected her wishes, and the only time that my Girl Scout friend and I could hang out overnight was when I spent the night over her house where only her mother and grandmother lived. And there were some secrets going on in that house that I never did figure out. Although my Girl Scout friend lived with her mother and grandmother, she talked to her mother as though she was her sister, and her mother had a mentall illness. I never did find out what it was. My friend had only met her father a handful of times, and he spent no time with her. And it took me almost 10 years of knowing my Girl Scout friend before realizing that the reason she missed school all the time was because she had sickle cell anemia. Those folks could keep a secret like no other.

 

I thought about her while watching the film "Precious" today and thinking no girl should have to go through molestation or rape. "Precious" got hit even worse with this type of torture by becoming HIV positive and pregnant twice from her own father.

 

According to the U.S. Dept. of Justice (1997) report, six out of 10 rapes occur in one's own home or the home of a friend, relative or neighbor. Seventy-seven percent of rapes are committed by someone the victim personally knows, and one in three women have been beaten, manipulated into sex or abused. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that 56,460 children experienced sexual abuse in 2007, and that's without counting other types of abuse--maltreatment, neglect, physical abuse and medical neglect.

 

The worst part is in my senior year of high school when the Girl Scout friend and I stopped getting along, I met young ladies who had been beaten by their stepfathers, one girl who had sex with her cousin and another who was molested by a male relative. When I asked them why they didn't tell the police or report it, they either said they were scared of what their mothers would do or their mothers knew already and didn't care.

 

With these kinds of statistics, knowing young ladies personally who were raped or molested and then seeing the film "Precious," it makes me not hold as much of a grudge against the Girl Scout friend's grandmother. I don't know if any of the three of them (the grandmother, mother and the Girl Scout friend) dealt with such circumstances and that's why the grandmother felt the way she felt about men being in my household. But at the time, I felt like she was punishing her granddaughter. Why wouldn't she want her granddaughter to see what responsible young and older men do on a daily basis who have always been very protective and loving to me? Why put them in the same box with criminals just because they have penises? I didn't feel that was fair to my own male family members who'd done nothing wrong and insulting to me.

 

But is it better to offend one's family and know your child will be safe than to take that risk? I wonder.

 

 

Click here to read my "Movie Review: 'Precious' Film More Inspiring Than Depressing"

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4 Comments

sjwalter1974 said:

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In my opinion I don't think it's a problem as long as you know the parents and the environment that they're going to be exposed to. It's no different than when I used to spend the night at your house (ALL THE TIME). Your mother could have said that to me, especially around the teenage years. The only difference is she controlled the environment as opposed to your friends grandmother. So I guess it depends on the child and the child's history with boys or men. Or maybe something happened to her mother which makes the grandmother weary.

Message from Montie said:

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Sjwalter, That's exactly what I always wondered especially considering it was never quite clear to me what the mother had (mental illness). But it wasn't like the Girl Scout friend didn't know who her father was. They just had no relationship so I'm hoping that he wasn't dangerous. I doubt it if they let her meet him.

But I guess her grandmother's views were that regardless of her knowing my mother and knowing me, she didn't know my father or my brother. But I feel like it's unfair to just label everybody as a potential molestor/rapist who has a penis. That cheats her out of male role models, and I can't count the number of folks who would call my father their "play father."

But, on the other hand, as I got older I started meeting girls whose mother simply ignored or refused to believe that their boyfriends, husbands, jump-offs were molesting/raping their children. So even if the grandmother did trust my mother, who's to say that my mother couldn't have been one of those people? I know it. You know it. But that doesn't mean everybody else knows it.

I never had to even consider anything like that because pretty much all of my female friends had no brothers or father figures around, which was a problem in itself, so it never occurred to me to be scared of anybody's creepy relative. Off the top of my head, I can only think of one female friend I had who had guys around at all times, and her house was the party house. But I'd only come during the day and only remember spending the night once. There were too many people coming and going so she always spent the night at my house, but unfortunately, I wouldn't be surprised if as many men that came and went through that house, somebody may have tested her out to see if they could get away with it. It's unfortunate, but true so I see both sides.

YT84 said:

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In my opinion I agree with the grandmother. I'm sure not all men are perverts. However, you just don't know which ones are and which ones are not. In grade school I ran into a similiar problem. I wanted to spend the night at a girlfriends house and my grandmother said no for those same reasons (she lived with her mother, step-father and older brothers) though later she changed her mind and I went. Nothing happened to me, but a few years later my girl friend told me that her step-father had been molesting her for years but he didn't do when I spent the night(I was the only friend allowed to stay the night over????) So I can see where the grandmother is coming from. You just don't know. And it's not worth the risk. And maybe you took it to personal, that was between the grandmother who was raising her granddaughter and all men. Nothing to do with you and your mother.

Message from Montie said:

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YT84, I was with you up until that last point. What the grandmother did was no different than the folks who follow you in the shopping malls. You've heard of the profiling that if a black person walks into a store, the sales clerks get a little closer just to make sure you don't steal anything. You may not, but you just never know. Her grandmother, by refusing to let her spend the night specifically because of my father and my brother living there, refused to let her spend the night. That was basically accusing them of being potential molestors. Of course I'm going to be offended by that. I grew up with men all around me (godfather, grandfather, brother, brothers' friend, father) and nobody even came remotely close to even daring to treat me as anything other than a daughter. That's basically profiling all men as rapists and molestors. There's no way to take it "too personal" when she was talking about my own family. But still, thank you for commenting.

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