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Don't Touch Me. ***WARNING*** This post contains graphic language.

I read a post recently on my brother's page regarding a controversial issue. Not shocking because my brother loves and encourages debate. He often plays the devil's advocate. What surprised me, however, is that people shared very diverse views in a respectful manner. No one insulted, attacked, or to my knowledge defriended anyone. It was remarkable.

Although I strive to be open to differing views and opinions, some really get to me, and I've hit the block button more than once after a remark cut too deeply.

I'll probably do it again too because I remain a work in progress. But, I've actually engaged in a few political conversations recently and didn't even feel my blood pressure rising. That's growth...or perhaps apathy, but I am going with the former.

I have seen more people defriend and get defriended over the course of this election, and it really is sad. A long-time friend of mine wrote a great blog about her personal experience with it. I listened to a TedTalk (which I highly recommend; it's about 10 minutes and totally worth it) about not being so tied to our beliefs that if we learned they were wrong we would go down with that ship rather than letting revelatory information enlighten and lift us to new heights.

When we attended church, lots of people gave us recommendations for businesses and so forth based solely on this fact: They're Christians. I have known lots of Christians. Some good. Some not so good. It always baffled me. Christians are followers of Christ; right? So if Christ hung out with thieves, murderers, prostitutes--people who were way different than Him--then why do His followers want to surround themselves with other like (or closed-) minded people? And how can you ever learn anything new if all you do is reinforce the same beliefs?

A key component to making this world a better place is empathy. Another is the ability to listen to differing points of view without feeling defensive. We don't need to agree, respect or even tolerate another's point of view--especially if it's ignorant and hate-fueled--but what if we could share and hear opposing views without feeling angry and wanting to prove our own point? Then, what if we could leap off that springboard and actually try to understand another person's experience in the world?

All of this nonsense about "locker room talk" really makes me wish men could truly understand what women experience. How it feels to have people ogle you, make unsolicited comments about what they want to do to you, and call you names. How it feels to have a person "accidentally" brush up against your body or put their disgusting hands on you. How vulnerable you feel when someone grabs your ass or genitals in a public place and threatens you if you reject them. Men can say that they've had similar experiences. Here's the difference: If a man rejects a woman, he probably doesn't fear that she is going to rape him.

I've lost count of how many times I responded unfavorably to a whistle or inappropriate comment or God forbid someone touching me only to hear, "Fuck you, bitch." Sometimes in front of my kids. Once my toddler son asked why a man whistled at me at a light. As, I tried to explain it to him, the man yelled, "CUNT!" because I didn't respond favorably to his unsolicited attention. "Mommy, what's a cunt?" It's not just me. Every woman I know can tell similar stories. Including my daughter.

To blow that off as locker room talk is to encourage rape culture.

I grew up with five brothers; I'm well-versed in locker room talk. It's not okay. It's not an excuse. It's disgusting. I've heard women say, "Oh that's just boys being boys." I find that deplorable. I even know women who take this sort of behavior as a compliment. I don't even have words for that.

In the meantime, I'm going to try--just try--to be the change by staying open-minded and loving all of you despite our differing opinions. I hope that you'll respect mine as well. Who knows, maybe we'll even learn something from each other.

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