My husband and I have this argument pretty frequently. I assume the worst and prepare for it. Just in case. He thinks I should give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Because 98% of the time, nothing wild is going to happen. He’ll cite some statistic (that he’s probably made up on the spot) as proof that you’re more likely to get hit by lightning than your child is to be kidnapped. The odds are apparently 1 in 300,000 that your kid’s gonna get kidnapped (not counting the custody-battle type kidnappings).
Yeah, well, what the hell, we’ve got three kids, who cares if we lose one?
Nope. Sorry. Not going to let my kid run back to the car from the grocery store for my wallet at 6 years old. Not even “just real fast.” I know people are mostly good. But I’m not risking my kid. She’s too precious. I know that I can do everything right and prepare in every way — and something could still happen. I know. But I’m still going to try. Of course, I am. Even if the odds are 1 in 300,000.
So why the hell would I let her trust men?
Yeah, I know. That’s a pretty incendiary comment. It’s not especially open-minded. That’s definitely not the loving, kind opinion Jesus would have, huh? It’s a good way to breed a man-hater, right? I’ve thought a lot about this, though. When I was about 3 or 4-years-old, my mom taught me to do a funny little party trick. She’d ask me in front of her friends, “What do I always tell you about men?” And I would parrot, “All men are pigs, all they want is sex” in my sweet little toddler voice. Laughter ensued, big hit.
In my early twenties, I came to resent that little joke. Not that I was the punchline; I don’t care about that. But I hated that I generalized men to this baseline of revolting behavior. As a new adult, I could recognize that men were individuals. More than that, how appalled would I be if a man said the opposite about women? If he taught his sons that?! It’s just an absolutely horrifying thing to teach your kid.
But I don’t care.
Because I have three daughters. And the chances of each being Sexually Assaulted in her life are not 1 in 300,000.
It’s 1 in 6.
I don’t want my daughters to live in fear. I don’t want them to avoid relationships, platonic or romantic, with men. But I want them to not give a man their trust automatically. Because that may save them from being sexually assaulted one day.
If a good guy gets his feelings hurt because of that, I genuinely do not give one single hairy rat’s ass. Not one. Don’t blame me. Don’t blame the responses to sexual assault.
Blame sexual assault.
You want something to change in the way I, and other mothers, teach their kids to avoid being alone with a man they don’t know? To stop telling our kids to be careful on dates? Want us to stop teaching them to lace their keys between their fingers while they walk to their cars? Do you want us to stop going to the bathroom in herds?
Change how sexual assault happens. Teach your kids about consent. Teach them that sexual assault can destroy a person’s life. Act out for harsher punishments for sexual predators. Make a genuine effort to stand up when someone is being skeezy, and maybe, just maybe, they won’t see that behavior as okay.
If you say nothing when Tom from accounting gives Pam a shoulder rub, even if she seems fine with it, then the line gets pushed a bit. And for every line that gets pushed a bit, there’s a kid who grows up thinking that it’s completely acceptable behavior, so what’s just maybe pushing it?
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
I’m teaching my children about consent. That they can say no. My goal is that my children will be able to recognize rape culture. That they’ll be able to reject it when they feel it imposed upon them. I’m talking about it, even if it’s uncomfortable.
And I’m telling them not to trust men implicitly.
To the good guys that are offended by that… What are you doing?
(P.S. No participation ribbons will be awarded for those saying “I’m not participating in rape culture.” You don’t get a prize for not raping people.)