Monday, March 18, 2013

Failing at the notion of consent

Speaking of consent, I don't know about you guys, but this Steubenville rape case is more than I can take. We, as a society, are failing spectacularly at teaching and modeling the notion of consent. The thing that is hardest for me to deal with is the idea that these boys didn't think or know what they did was wrong (why else would they be so boldly stupid about broadcasting it on social media?? Oh yeah. maybe because of this: "A culture of arrogance created a group mindset of debauchery and disrespect, of misplaced manhood and lost morality.”). But at the same time, SERIOUSLY? I mean, WHAT!? 

We have this notion that a rapist is an evil man with a gun hiding in the shadows. But that doesn't cover almost 2/3rds of rapists, many of whom are our friends, relatives, acquaintances, people we know or trust. Most of these people aren't sociopaths. They are regular people doing awful things. And maybe if they knew how awful these things were, they'd think twice before they did them?
That is basically the premise behind successful the Don't Be That Guy campaign. Side note: when this very idea of teaching men not to rape was suggested by Zerlina Maxwell on Fox News recently, she was raked over the coals by conservatives who think guns are the answer (yes, go ahead and shoot your grandfather, your classmate, your coach, or any number of other people who are statistically the ones most likely to rape you.) Ugh. seriously. 
So what does this have to do with parenting? WE NEED TO TEACH OUR KIDS ABOUT CONSENT. We need to teach our kids how to recognize what is wrong and how to stand up for what is right. And that is why I love this article: A letter to my sons about stopping rape.

Let's start with modeling consent. So pull your kids out of their hyper-conservative, evangelical, crazy Sunday School that models the exact opposite of consent if that is where they spend their Sunday mornings. Also, let's stop modeling violence and humiliation through spanking. And then maybe think about this: 
I've never made you put anything in your mouth that you didn't want to, or touch anyone you didn't want to, or talk to anyone you didn't want to, because I wanted you to understand that you and you alone control your boundaries.

Let's start by respecting our kids' boundaries. Then, lets teach them how to respect other people's boundaries. Particularly, sexual boundaries. And let's teach them how to stand up for themselves and other people. And most of all, lets stop it with the perpetrator enabling and  victim blaming. Because seriously. This is beyond messed up and it has to stop.

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