How the #MeToo movement is changing the way mothers and daughters talk about sexual assault
By Claire Hannah Collins and Jessica Q. Chen
Feb 13, 2018 | 10:55 AM
We sat down with mothers and daughters and asked them to have a candid conversation about sexual harassment.
Over the past year, a growing conversation about sexual harassment has erupted.
To explore how this conversation has changed, generation to generation, we asked mothers and daughters about how they were raised to talk, react and take action when it comes to sexual harassment and assault.
Liz and Terrie
Liz Cotone’s daughter is only 6, but she is already learning about consent. Liz, 42, and her mother, Terrie Rosengren, 70, talk about how to teach children to ask permission, laying the groundwork for understanding autonomy over one’s body.
It’s not about sex. It’s using the differences in our gender for power.”
Ahleea and Denise
Denise Zama, 57, was sexually harassed at a very young age, and she never told her parents what happened to her. But when her daughter, Ahleea Zama, 31, was sexually assaulted in high school, the two processed their experiences together.
You want to know what could you have done differently.... You try to protect your children the best you can. But at the same time you have to be free to grow.”
Samantha and Ellen
When Samantha Gordon, 21, first talked to her mother about being sexually assaulted, Ellen Gordon, 53, asked her if she had been drinking. Years later, they discuss that conversation, and Ellen explains how she adjusts her behavior to appear less “bossy” as a woman in a professional setting.
I think we grew up with very different understandings and expectations of assaults.”
Tessa and Jayne
Since someone slipped a roofie in her drink, Tessa Petrich, 32, has become more aware of the common threats she must face as a woman, including walking down dark hallways and putting down her drink at parties. She and her mother, Jayne Petrich, 59, discuss the role women play in keeping themselves safe.
I think it’s like well and good to spend a lot of time thinking about how I can protect myself. But that feels like such a freaking waste of my time.”
Ariana and Maggie
Growing up, it was customary for Ariana “Diosa” Zertuche, 24, to kiss and hug family members, but she had never discussed the idea of consent. She and her mother, Maggie Zertuche, 62, explore how complex relationships and the taboos of discussing sex make it difficult for women in their family to come forward.
We shouldn’t only be talking about sex when it’s sexual violence. We have to talk about sex when it’s positive.”