I've been obsessed about the idea of consent ever since mine wasn't sought. I don't speak a lot about that. But it informs the way I think.
What should I have done differently. Should I have been stronger? Should I have run? Should I have told? Did he even know he needed consent? Yes, I've even gone down that path. Poor boy. No one taught him about respect. No one explained how important that little piece of the puzzle was. He really didn't know any better.
You can't undo that part of your life. Once a dam is unblocked it flows freely. And the water doesn't always know where to flow. It just runs. And the flooded plains it leaves behind will always bear the scar of where that water pummelled the land.
I've been a diligent mother because of that. I've talked to my son about consent at almost the same time I introduced him to Winnie the Pooh. I've barked and shouted every time I've heard the word 'slut' or 'whore' used in my company. I've even lost friends in my ire against the language they've used. We don't use words like that around my drowned teenage self buried somewhere deep inside me.
I've argued passionately and loudly against "c'mon he's just being funny" jokes. I've raged against comedians or commentators who demean women or tell rape jokes.
I've tried so hard to teach my son about rape culture without making him believe all men are bad. Because they're not. I get that it's hard, it's hard for him to fully understand something that he doesn't actually experience. But in the same way that he needs to understand racism, although he will never know how harmful and painful the feeling is because he is a privileged white male, he needs to be taught how important it is not to be part of that hurt.
There was a brilliant piece in The Washington Post the other day entitled "My Boys Are Blind to Rape Culture". The author Jody Allard wrote:
"Teenage boys, by and large, don't speak out about slut-shaming or rape culture. They don't call each other out when they make sexist jokes or objectify women. It's too uncomfortable to separate themselves from the pack so they continue to at least dip their toes into toxic masculinity. In their discomfort with action, they remain passive, and their passivity perpetuates the same broken system that sentenced Brock Turner to only six months in jail."
We HAVE to change this. We have to start making a difference. For the sake of our boys and our girls. We have to teach our sons, fathers and husbands about rape culture.
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