“Boys will be boys”
This statement explains why boys sexualize girls and blame women for being assaulted.
How did your parents or caregivers prepare you for the #MeToo reality?
Every day another sexual predator struts into the news and the public debate begins whether they are innocent, guilty, framed or simply ignorant.
Even when the abuser admits their horrendous behavior, their family, friends, high school teachers and selected co-workers rush to their defense by loudly blaming the victim, minimizing the allegations and questioning the victim’s attire, motivations and timing.
As a #MeToo survivor, I am grateful for the new wave of supporters who believe the victims because they understand there is absolutely no benefit in lying about being harassed, assaulted or raped.
However, the risks of being ignored, shamed, blamed or called a liar are real.
It takes courage.
There is way too much responsibility and blame placed on victims who are primarily female. Blaming the victim gives predators a pass to continue to assault other victims. And this is terribly true in the church.
The church and their families have very different expectations of men and women in their ability to uphold traditional family moral and ethical principles of honesty, loyalty, purity, and faith.
The burden of family values fall heavily on women. While boys are raised to simply police and test girls’ ability to uphold these virtues.
Girls can’t protect themselves if boys are given a pass for self-control.
This culture has existed since the dawn of time so one post isn’t going to change all that but let’s talk about something very basic and teachable yet missing whenever someone is assaulted or raped.
It is never too early or too late to talk about consent.
Consent may seem like a new concept but it’s not. Parents expect children to ask permission (consent) for a snack, to go outside, stay overnight at a friend’s house or borrow the car. And if they don’t ask for permission, there are consequences.
We also teach consent in school when we expect children to ask permission to get out of their seat to throw something away, ask a question or go to the bathroom.
Consent is power and control that can be abused.
Children are easily preyed upon by adults because almost all children are taught to respect all adults.
Assault at its core is about boundaries.
Consent is as simple as “yes” or “no.” Some make it more complicated than it needs to be.
Teaching consent begins by giving children control over their own bodies and teaching children the proper words for their body parts.
At fifteen months, children become naturally fearful of strangers. Children should be taught to trust their feelings and that they have control over their body by allowing them to choose who holds them or kisses them. This lays the foundation for learning to check with their parents for assurance and not to getting into cars or walking off with strangers.
By age two, children have heard “No” so much they say it all the time. We teach consent by respecting their choices about their bodies and belongings.
As noted earlier, children learn consent in relationships when we teach them appropriate boundaries such as asking for a toy instead of grabbing it out of someone’s hand. They learn consequences when they have a time out for hitting someone.
It is also important to teach boys and girls that it is never too late to change their mind and to respect their friend’s choices.
As children grow, parents use teachable moments to begin teaching children the value of their bodies, respect and compassion for others, responsibility for their actions, accountability, and admitting hurt, and seeking help.
Some loving parents teach their daughter’s self-defense to help boys respect their choices.
I admire parents who teach their daughter’s self-defense and brag about how their daughters can surprise any would-be villains by swinging into action like the tough super hero they’ve been trained to be.
I cheer for those girls. I applaud their parents and their instructors.
It is very important to teach children to say “No” and have their choices respected. We teach this by respecting their choices when they are young. Children must be given permission and tips to defend themselves.
All of these lessons lay the foundation for deeper discussions about relationships with the opposite sex which should begin before children begin middle school. The key is to keep communication open.
Their interactions with other children, adults, and authority figures provide lots of opportunities to discuss power and control, bullies, and consent.
Having this type of dialogue with children when they are very young keeps the discussion open for them to discuss relationships, things they saw on television, heard or saw their friends do, or even things they said or did.
These discussions help children develop empathy and the value of others.
Their lives offer many teachable moments to talk about sex, love, assault, rape. Teach them how to de-escalate situations, as well as the importance of intervention if a situation wasn’t safe or someone was in danger of hurting themselves or others.
All children mess up sometimes and fail to respect someone. When they mess up, they should expect consequences for their behavior and understand the importance of apologizing to the satisfaction of the harmed. They should seek forgiveness, but can’t force forgiveness.
Unfortunately, no matter how well we train our children, they may still encounter bullies and predators.
We hope they are successful in defending themselves.
And if they are successful, we need to be available with open arms to wrap them in comfort after they stood up to the beast. We also need to support and encourage them to share their experience to protect others.
I wish self-defense was the answer to prevent being bullied, assaulted or raped.
Unfortunately it didn’t work for me. I tried to fight. I didn’t win. I was outnumbered. I was drugged. And I was raped.
Therefore, parents must also be prepared to wrap our daughter’s in the courage to know that even if she encounters a bigger, stronger offense trained villain, she is not at fault if she is wounded or outnumbered by the beast(s).
It is NEVER the victim’s responsibility to prevent rape or any other assault.
It is very important to teach our children to stand up for themselves and recognize times to fight. It is equally important to learn when to run if able or when to remain still and quiet to survive to tell your story even if you wished to die. All equally noble and wise choices (opportunities).
Victims can’t prevent what someone else does because being a victim is being stripped of choices.
It is important to continue to discuss teachable #MeToo moments as they pop up in the news. Talk about how to process who to believe, rape myths about drinking, the good guy who is well liked, whose life was messed up and how to determine if it was consensual.
And whether we are in a position to judge the truth.