As a single mother, I can’t help but look at Brock Turner and his father’s response to him raping a woman through my single mother eyes. It’s a unique perspective, especially since I’ve raised two sons of my own.
My first thought when I read about Brock and his crime was, “Ack, I’m glad I didn’t labor and give birth to that.” My second thought was to wonder if his parents were shocked/destroyed by his behavior. Were they questioning how the young man they raised could have failed to learn from them that women are individuals, not things to be handled however he deemed for his own selfish pleasure?
Then I read his father’s plea and totally out of touch description of his son to the court when begging for leniency for his son. That is when I realized this is a father who not only has no idea who his son is but, also took no time during his son’s life to teach him right from wrong. Especially when it comes to men, women and sexual behavior.
It’s very late to start a conversation about sexual consent, healthy relationships, and gendered violence when someone starts university. These are conversations which we need to have with our children as they develop. And that is why I didn’t raise rapists because I had those conversations with my sons. And, as a result, I didn’t raise Neanderthals who think it is OK to assault an unconscious woman behind a dumpster at any time. Not just on campus but anywhere, at any time.
If you read Brock’s father’s letter you gain great insight into how a rapist is made. “His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve,” his father wrote. Maybe if Brock’s father had stressed character development over athletic achievement, he wouldn’t have had to write such a letter.
Do we, as single mothers have a deeper understanding of the need to teach our children character development? Maybe not all of us, but a great deal do because when you are doing the work of two parents you have to make sure you are hitting the high spots when helping your child develop skills that will help them build a life worth dreaming of living. I hold this young man’s parents accountable for failing to do that.
Sexually aggressive behavior in young men has been linked to witnessing family violence and having emotionally distant and uncaring fathers. Men raised in families with strong patriarchal structures are also more likely to become violent, to rape and use sexual coercion against women, as well as to abuse their intimate partners, than men raised in homes that are more egalitarian.
My sons never witnessed violence in our home but they did have an emotionally distant, uncaring father and because of that, I knew I had to over-compensate because I know the ugly statistics about boys who are raised by single mothers. It’s too bad that Brock’s mother didn’t know the statistics about rape and raising a son in a home with strong patriarchal structure.
It’s us single moms who get a bad rap but, if you take a closer look, the buck stops with fathers who don’t show up for their boys.
Kate Buckholz Berrio, DivorcedMoms writer, and owner of IHoldYourHeart.com had this to say to her son shortly after reading Brock’s victim’s statement. “No, you may not have that year old Halloween candy you just found” to my 7-year-old for the 5th time. And then all of a sudden I was saying “When someone says no you STOP. You STOP. Do you hear me? Repeat it back to me. You need to know that you STOP. You ALWAYS STOP at the first no. Without permission, you DON’T DO THE THING. Even if you really, really want to, do you understand???”
As Kate said, us parents have to wake the FUCK up. Especially us single moms. The decks are stacked against our sons already. Character development is easy to teach, especially when it comes to how they treat girls/women and their rights or, lack of rights to any woman’s body. “When someone says no you stop.”
You don’t have a right to touch a girl.
You don’t have a right to touch a girl if she is drunk or you are drunk or regardless of how short her skirt is or, whether she is wearing clothes or not. You don’t have a right to touch a girl in ANY WAY unless you are invited to touch a girl.
If you touch a girl who doesn’t want to be touched by you, the law will come after you, her father and brothers will come after you AND I will come after you.
It’s so damn simple! How did Brock’s parents not understand how simple it is to not raise a rapist?