I started to write this post a few weeks ago and got sidetracked. Now after Donald Trump’s infamous “Locker room talk” I need to finish it…
Raising Our Sons to Not Sexually Assault Women
I have a 22-year-old son who just graduated from NYU in May and now lives and works in New York City. He came home for a visit over Labor Day Weekend which I had eagerly awaited because I hadn’t seen him since his graduation. My son and I are very close, we talk or text every day.
At one point we were sitting on the couch watching TV and chatting and a piece came on the TV about the former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner who received an outrageously short six-month sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman and was released after serving just three months. I asked my son, “With all the education and warnings and campaigns… do boys still really think stuff like this is OK? Like does this happen a lot?” He said, “Mom, you have no idea. The sense of entitlement is unreal.” My son was in a fraternity, so he spent lots of time with dudes at parties, he would be a pretty good gauge.
I was appalled, saddened, shocked, hurt, angered, and disappointed.
Because when I was in college I knew what happened, I went to a lot of parties, I lived in a dorm, I was in a sorority, I had a boyfriend in a fraternity. I thought after all the education now, it would be curbed. I’m not saying it only happens with Greeks or Greeks are bad, it’s just because Greek life is a microcosm of young people who go to parties often. It just is. It’s young social life… concentrated. Like orange juice. Down to it’s most direct form.
Anyway, I have been assaulted a few times. Although sometimes I struggle with the word “assault” and “rape”. There are varying forms of unwanted sexual actions toward a woman. There is the “Unwanted Advance”, he kissed me, I push him away and tell him to get the hell away from me. There is the “Aggressive Advance”, a little force is used, pushing me up against a wall, pinning me down, kissing me. Then there is the “Sexual Assault” some force used, kissing, groping, grabbing private parts, not letting me leave. Then there is “Rape”, violent, hostile, against my will penetration or attempted penetration of any orifice. That’s just my opinion anyway. One woman may consider an unwanted kiss a rape, I think that’s a bit much.
Whatever the case, I tried to teach my son from a very young age that you don’t do any of the aforementioned things to a woman. You treat women with respect. Starting with his sisters (my 2 daughters). After hearing the Trump Tapes I asked my son if he had ever heard that in a locker room. He said no. He did say however, the guys that talked stupid shit (objectifying and slut-shaming) about women were the ones that always ended up being creeps to girls and the girls stayed away, and the guys would watch for and eject any guy who was getting handsy. There was no “just talk”.
To me… what Donald Trump said was not just talk.
He said he did it, and does it. Would you let Donald Trump grab you by the pussy just because he’s Donald Trump? I’ve been unwantedly grabbed by the pussy, it traumatized me. Especially because the first time it happened I was 12 as I left the cafeteria one day, it happened to a few of us. I reported it to a teacher in tears, to which their response was… go out a different door.
Why is it always the woman’s burden? We always have to defend ourselves when a guy violates us. It’s further perpetuated by this latest “Locker room talk”, we are just supposed to “take a joke” and “let boys be boys”, “don’t be so sensitive”. You don’t get to tell me how I feel! You don’t get to tell me what I feel is not offensive! I’ve been sexually assaulted more than once in my 51 years and guess what… I DID NOTHING WRONG! It’s not “just talk”, it perpetuates a culture of “women are there for the taking and just use them, who cares?”
So I’ve done my part, instead of going to great lengths preparing my daughters to not come within 100 yards of being raped (i.e. being alone with a boy, wearing sexy clothes), I went to great lengths to instill in my son the value of respect. Respecting women, respecting all people. You don’t do whatever you want, whenever you want to anyone. My daughters should be allowed to wear a form-fitting dress without fear of being raped, although I still informed them of precautionary steps. They should be able to walk down a street without being attacked. They should be allowed to be on a date and alone with a boy and not be assaulted. It is not the woman’s fault! Let’s focus on teaching our boys not to sexually mistreat women, instead of focusing on teaching our girls how not to be sexually mistreated. And making the entire responsibility for sexual assualt and rape the responsibility of women.