Finding self-worth in men

An L & I worker takes down crime scene tape after a hit-and-run and a house fire on the 4400 block of Wingohocking St., in the Nicetown neighborhood of Philadelphia on April 17, 2015. ( Yong Kim / Staff Photographer )

THE DETAILS of an incident that left a Philadelphia woman maimed Friday were horrifying.

A 24-year-old woman was run over, allegedly by a 29-year-old romantic rival, and had to have part of her leg amputated.

In the chaos, her mother, who had been cooking when all hell broke loose in front of their Nicetown home, raced to help her daughter and left the food on the stove, and their home went up in flames.

A family lost their home, a woman lost part of her leg, and another was arrested on two counts of attempted murder and is now in jail.

And for what? A "man."

That's a term I'm using loosely because men in the middle of these "love" triangles aren't men. They're creeps. Losers unworthy of any woman's love, let alone ruining lives over.

But by all means, fellow females, let's continue to hand these fools our love, our power, and in one woman's case, her freedom.

There is a lot of talk these days of women knowing their worth, of leaning in, owning their place in the world. And that's fabulous, but incidents like this show some women have been left behind in the national conversation on self-worth and respect.

Barely a week goes by when I'm not hearing some young woman on her cellphone or talking to friends about some bitch or ho trying to take her man.

A little bit of me dies every time I hear this nonsense. Some of it is adolescent noise - until it isn't. Like in Chicago last year, a Facebook fight over a boy led a 14-year-old girl to shoot and kill another 14-year-old girl. Like two years before that when a 10-year-old girl died after a brawl over a boy. Like when you Google "girls fight over boys" and hundreds of thousands of results come up on YouTube.

Too many young women are settling for less because they don't believe that they deserve more. Because they are growing up with no one telling or showing them different. Because somewhere along the line, they've turned to outsiders to determine their worth.

After President Obama announced the "My Brother's Keeper" program for young men of color, more than 1,000 women of color signed a letter calling for gender equality in the program. Why? Because young women of color are living in the same households where these young men of color are struggling. Because without recognizing and tending to the girls' needs, any progress is temporary.

Because, as I've written in the past, women hold the key to their success and the success of their communities - if they only realized how much power they have. If we only helped them realize that power.

Alysia Lee, founder of the all-girls Sister Cities Girlchoir, said she thought of her girls as soon as she heard about the incident in Nicetown. Girls are bombarded with so much negativity these days, Lee said, from women fighting over men on reality television to women having to fend off unwanted comments from creeps on the streets.

"This issue comes up a lot in our conversations," she said. "And what is clear is that these young girls are in desperate need of support and encouragement."

A few years ago, Cheryl Ann Wadlington, executive director of the Evoluer House, a nonprofit organization that empowers girls, conducted a survey. A majority of the girls who took it wanted to look like Beyonce "because she had a big butt and blond hair . . . and that's what guys wanted."

Beyonce also said "Put a Ring on It," but not enough girls pay attention to that.

What that says about some of our young girls is depressing. What it says about the messages we're sending these girls should make us ashamed of ourselves.

"The issues young women face have always been invisible," Wadlington said. "It's only a matter of time before [they] explode."

Some of those issues exploded on a Nicetown street the other day.



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