Dear Boys, I Want You to Respect Women…

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Dear Boys, I Want You to Respect Women... Columbia SC Moms BlogDear Boys,

I have to write this letter. By not putting these thoughts on paper, and asking you to slowly read them, I’d be doing you, as well as all the young women you will ever meet, a disservice. Yes, a piece of your innocence will disappear as you read, but it’s a small price to pay if you talk to just one of your friends about women. And how you should respect us.

In the past week a young man was given a jail sentence of 6 months for raping an unconscious young woman behind a dumpster. His father publicly defended him, blaming everything from alcohol to the culture of “college parties,” and said 20 minutes shouldn’t ruin his whole life. But boys, that 20 minutes ruined HER life. It doesn’t matter what a woman wears, who her friends are, how much she drinks, if first she says “yes” and then says “no.” Do you understand?

Let me be clear: no woman ever “asks” to be raped.

In the same week a woman has been nominated to run for the highest office in our country.

History is being made...
History is being made…

Guys, this is a big deal, regardless of which political party you belong. When your great-grandmother was born, women couldn’t even vote. They owned nothing. They said nothing. When they decided to fight for equality, many were beaten in the streets and had their children taken away. All because they wanted to have a voice.

Let me be clear: a woman can be a governor, a legislator, a president.

Women are governors, legislators and can be president...
Women are governors, legislators and can be president…

You all love and play sports. You dream of playing in the NFL, NBA or on a big league field one day. You expect to make millions.There is a lawsuit pending by female athletes who are fighting to make a salary close to their male counterparts. There are female players who have been told they were “built like man,” and others who have been ridiculed for not being “pretty.” Do you remember the picture of Serena Williams in the pink gown?

Let me be clear: women can play just as hard as men.

Built like a woman...not a man.
Built like a woman … not a man.

If a man makes $1 for his job, a woman makes only 79 cents for doing that same job. Do you think that’s fair?  Women run huge companies like Pepsi and Yahoo, and your own mother knows how to develop housing, walk into the State House or City Hall, and run a non-profit dedicated to helping at-risk families.

Let me be clear: women are just as smart as men.

She runs Pepsi and buys milk for her children on the way home...
She runs Pepsi and buys milk for her children on the way home…

I gave birth to all five of you. And I lost another. No epidural ever worked, and three of you were delivered by emergency caesarian-section. In fact, as I was rushed in to deliver the twins, I begged them to cut me without anesthesia because they were in such harm. I held you, nursed you, have bandaged your knees and held you down as you got stitches. Like so many other mothers, I have carried the weight of your troubles, your father’s worries and the problems of many others on my shoulders and in my heart, all while cooking your dinner, washing your clothes, and playing with you on the floor.

Let me be clear: women are strong, especially for those they love.

Now, let me be honest with you – this won’t be easy. There are men in your life, unlike your father,  who won’t understand or support you as you elevate women. They weren’t raised to do it, so they don’t understand it. But you are being raised to respect women and treat us fairly. I will expect it from you.

I am a woman.

Treat every woman you meet like you would treat me.

And when you see a woman being treated unfairly, speak up.

I promise I will be with you every step of the way.

With much love and pride,

Mama

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Lila Anna is the happily unbalanced mother of five boys. She is an advocate for homeless families, a recovering triathlete, and a sleep deprived 40-something who doesn’t see her yoga mat enough. She was blessed enough to have three wonderful boys (Michael, 14, Colin, 12 and Aidan, 10) … then, after a seven year break and just as she turned 40, got what she calls her “buy one, get one free babies,” Heath and Graeme (now 3). Once fiercely independent, Lila Anna now relies heavily on the help, kindness and understanding of a very loyal group of friends she calls her “village.” This village allows her to dedicate her heart and time to Trinity Housing and St. Lawrence Place – the non-profit for homeless and at-risk families she leads as President/CEO – all the while managing to run a house full of baseball and football schedules and four different carpools. Lila Anna is passionate about all children, especially those living at risk or in poverty. She treats her St. Lawrence Place children as her own, and advocates for them at the State House, at City Hall, or on any given street corner. Her position at Trinity Housing gives her the chance to give homeless families and their children a voice. She has been a guest lecturer at USC and Columbia College, and has presented nationally on the topics of child poverty, education and family homelessness. She is a native of Springfield in rural Orangeburg County, home of the Governor’s Frog Jump (thus her frog tattoo), and is a graduate of USC with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. She got her Master’s from Columbia College in Organizational Change and Leadership, and graduated a few weeks before giving birth to her twins. Her five boys are just like their daddy, “Saint” Brad – fun-loving, even keeled, and incredibly helpful. She enjoys cooking with the help of at least one set of small hands, running (slowly) with friends, and daydreaming about her next trip to Edisto Beach or New York City. One day she hopes to compete in triathlons again in the Athena division (thus her owl tattoo). Most of all, she loves just hanging out with her boys…all six of them. Lila Anna and her boys live in Forest Acres, where they are two blocks from the ballfield and no more than 10 minutes away from everything else. She is happy to share how she embraces her unbalance … and all the fun and love that comes with it.

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