The day was March 24th, 1999. It was the late in the afternoon of a regular, routine day. I was 9 years old and had been playing with my younger brothers. I was the eldest of four, so I always had someone around.
My mother had been cranky all day. So the moment that a hiss left her lips and was followed by a very loud “ahhhhhhhh,” it suddenly became very clear that something was going to happen. We all ran down to see. There it was, the baby was on its way. My mom first called my father, then hers and was immediately evacuated to the nearest hospital.
We saw the baby for the first time the very next day. It was an angry-looking, blue-eyed-angel with bright red hair! And it was a girl… a girl? Yes, a girl. We couldn’t believe it, nor could my parents. They could not imagine having a girl after having had five boys. All I knew was that I had a new responsibility. My mom had always told us that when we were together and taking care of each other- no one could break us. However, what I didn’t know when I was holding that orange haired bundle of joy is how she would change my life forever.
Right after my sister arrived my mom fell very ill. With my father working long hours, that little baby became my only priority. She came before school, before classes, before anyone else. The one thing I knew was that I would never ever let anything happen to her, ever. I suddenly became extremely anxious about how to keep her safe and what would happen, god forbid, if anyone tried to harm her. The worst was to think about the statistics— the fact that 1 of every 9 women is a victim of rape. That 1 in 3 gets sexually harassed. During these years, this perspective- this protective feeling- gravely altered the way I see the world.
Change will come when all men in the world can imagine women in that same light that I see my sister: a person who is worthy of anything she wants.
I know in my heart that my baby sister will grow up to be someone who you don’t want mess with. I know this because she can kick your ass in less than a second. Nevertheless, I also know that she will be treated as less worthy, will be thought of as a “pretty thing” first, and will likely face wage discrimination earning 23% less than a man in the same position. This is not the type of world that I want for her, though I also know that change won’t come with just me saying it. Change will come when all men in the world can imagine women in that same light that I see my sister: a person who is worthy of anything she wants. A person who is not afraid to walk alone. A person who is free to dress however she wants.
This type of thinking is not just male-feminism. This is called humanism. I am a humanist. I am a person who believes in the spirit of freedom for all mankind. And, as men, it is our responsibility to look at women in every situation and treat them in the way we would like others to treat our sisters, to treat ourselves.