Back in August, before the school year began, I sat down with my daughter to have “The Talk.” I documented the experience in a blog post, which I highly recommend you read if you have not already done so. It was quite an entertaining experience and the recap will give you a pretty good idea of my daughter’s personality.
Well, after “The Talk” we didn’t really need to discuss much more, until Spring Break. You see, we were on a mini-vacay and one day decided to visit a petting zoo, which the kids loved, BTW. We were wrapping up our visit with the animals and heading to the parking lot when my younger boys shouted, “MOM! That horse is riding the other horse! That is SO AWESOME!”
My daughter, who was walking right next to me, stopped dead in her tracks. “Mom? Are they…? Is that…?”
“Yes.” And that’s when we saw the horse dismount. And we really “saw” the horse, if you know what I mean…
“Well, THAT’S something I will never be able to get out of my head.”
“And now you know what that looks like. Well, for horses, anyway. And, actually cows. And dogs. And cats…”
“OK MOM. ENOUGH!” And she got away from me as quickly as possible and into my sister’s car.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. All over the news and social media we see the Stanford rape case. It is all anyone was talking about, and I may have brought it up one day in our living room. Our son hasn’t been given “The Talk” yet, and I am very much looking forward to this being my husband’s job. However, it is becoming more and more apparent to me how important a mother’s role is for our boys if the current rape culture is ever going to change. I believe it will start with the littlest things.
So here’s how it started in our living room:
Son 1 hit something out of Son 2’s hand. Typical. However, in doing so, the object whacked Son 2 in the face. Son 2 got hurt and was crying. Son 1 was having trouble apologizing for his behavior. So the apology that we finally wheedled out of him was something like, “I’m sorry that I walked by you!” and the tone was snide. I tried, repeatedly, to explain that the issue was that Son 2 was hurt and that the apology should be for hurting his brother. Son 1 flew off the handle with something like, “I already apologized but you guys never believe me!” Son 1 oft thinks we are out to get him and that we never believe his side of the story.
After going around and around with this and getting nowhere, out of frustration, I may have said, “Gah, you are just like that Stanford kid.”
Well, that did NOT go over well with my husband. He was all, “You did NOT just compare our son to a rapist.”
And I was all, “I just compared him to someone who didn’t apologize for hurting somebody else.” So that led to a discussion with Son 1, who was totally confused at this point. I explained that there was a boy who did something really bad to hurt a girl, and when he hurt the girl, he happened to be drunk. All that boy apologized for was drinking too much alcohol, and that he didn’t apologize for hurting the girl. And in fact, he used it as an excuse for his actions, which is unacceptable.
I don’t want my kid to grow up to be a kid who makes excuses for lousy behavior, and quite frankly, he is not too good at apologizing for the appropriate wrongdoing. The example I shared above is just one of many. Is this Son 1’s poor behavior going to lead to him being a rapist? I sure hope not, but I can’t imagine that the Stanford kid’s mom ever saw that coming from her kid, either.
I have to take every opportunity I can to ensure that my boys learn proper human behavior, whether it be the mere act of apologizing or the larger act of how to appropriately act with the ladies, and I hope and pray that they will take the lessons with them when they leave the nest. This is not only a task for my husband to tackle during his “talk” with the boys.
I realized I also needed to have a more serious convo with my daughter. This rape discussion was one that was missing from “The Talk” we had in August (and I thought I had so thoroughly covered all topics). So I explained to her, privately, what the word “rape” meant. I basically told her that the boy “had his way” with the girl like they were some kind of animals – almost like what we had seen at Spring Break. The girl had no choice or say in the matter.
Her totally calm, cool, and collected response: “Well, we are animals, Mom.”
Um, excuse me? I was mortified.
“So, [Daughter], are you telling me that it is OK for a boy to just walk up to you any time he wants and stick his private parts into your private parts because we are animals?!?!?” I was not calm, cool, or collected.
“NO!” she replied with disdain. Thank God. I was beginning to think I had really done something very wrong with this child. We proceeded to talk
well, I talked at her a bit more about how it is never OK to have sex unless both people agree that they want to, etc. until she could stand no more of the topic and told me she’d had enough.
I will always worry about my daughter and her safety. I will give her all the lessons I have to offer.
But as much as I want to think that my husband will be awesome at teaching our boys about this topic (because he is awesome), he is a man. He doesn’t walk around having to worry about his safety as much as a woman does. He has never wondered about encounters with the opposite sex potentially putting his life in danger. He simply cannot relate. I can imagine him telling our boys, “Dude, don’t rape a girl,” and that being the end of the discussion.
So despite thinking I was done having “The Talk” in August and that my husband would get to handle the rest, I now believe my input will be valuable to our sons as well. I’ll talk to them about their relationships with the ladies, and my husband can deal with the “fluffy unicorn” talks* and explaining that the horses weren’t really giving each other piggy back rides…
*From the original post; what my daughter wishes body parts were named as opposed to the weird names they do have.