This is a blogpost from a fellow blogger on wordpress http://bellejarblog.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/how-we-teach-our-sons-to-rape/

I am just re-blogging this post because the post has shocked me into thinking how I can teach my four year old not to rape girls and that women are to be respected and not just used and abused.

How We Teach Our Sons To Rape

12 Apr

I have a son.

He is two years old.

He was born into a universe where time happens to be linear, which means that he is growing older with every passing minute. In a little over ten years’ time, he will be a teenager.

When my son is a teenager, he will almost certainly go to parties. He will drink. He might experiment with drugs. He will try to rebel against authority figures, myself included. He will test boundaries.

This is what teenagers do. These things are normal.

Do I necessarily want him to do these things? No, not really. But these are the things that I did when I was in high school. These are things that, as Jacqueline Warwick points out, serve as a sort of rite of passage for North American teenagers,  things that are “normalized and celebrated in countless coming of age stories.”

It won’t matter whether or not I give my son permission to do these things; he will lie to me or otherwise deceive me and do them anyway.

This is what teenagers do. These things are normal.

Someday, my son’s body will be flooded with hormones, and he will want to engage in sexual acts. If he is heterosexual, these sexual acts will be with girls. Someday my son will want to impress his peers, and he might not be sure how to do so. Someday, as part of his ongoing effort to learn how to live in this world, my teenage son might try on new personalities until he figures out which one fits him best. Some of these personalities might be aggressive, self-destructive or otherwise frightening to me as a parent.

This is what teenagers do. These things are normal.

When my teenage son goes parties and drinks, he will most likely encounter girls who are also drunk. If he is heterosexual, he will want to be physically close to these girls. He might kiss them. He might even do more than that.

If and when he engages in sexual acts at parties, my son will almost certainly be egged on, or at least encouraged, by his peers.

And will my son, whose brain will not yet have the ability to reason the way an adult’s would, be able know when he is about to cross a line?

Will he know how to tell if a girl cannot give consent?

In the heat of the moment, when my son is drunk, and is faced with an attractive girl who does not currently have all of her faculties intact, and all of his friends are telling him to just fuck her already, will he be able to say no?

I don’t know.

My son will grow up in a society that teaches him that popularity among his peers is to be gained at all costs. He will grow up consuming media that is saturated with the idea that male sexual aggression is normal, even attractive. He will learn over and over that girls are not only beautiful and desirable, but also a commodity to be purchased with compliments, attention and gifts. He will learn that girls can be worn down, that their opinions and thoughts are changeable, inconsistent. He will learn that girls are prizes to be won rather than people in their own right.

My son will grow up in a world that teaches him that rape is something that happens at gun point, late at night, in a dark alley somewhere. He will be taught that rape involves physical force and coercion. He will be taught that women risk rape when they go out alone, when they wear the wrong clothing, or when they do any of the other myriad things that put them at “risk.”

My son will grow up with books, films and music that teach him that sex is a conquest, rather than something that is born out of mutual desire and consent. And when I talk about these books, films and music, I’m not even referring to the ones that are necessarily violent or overtly degrading to women. I’m talking about the more insidious forms of misogyny and rape culture, the ones that we consumed so long ago and so many times that they seem totally harmless.

I’m talking about the ending of John Hughes’ Sixteen Candleswhen Caroline is passed out drunkenly at a party and her boyfriend, Jake, the fucking romantic hero of the movie, says to his real love interest, Sam, “I could violate her ten different ways if I wanted to.” Jake then concocts a plan that involves The Geek driving a barely-conscious Caroline off in her parents’ car.

The Geek and Caroline have sex. The next morning she says that she doesn’t remember what happened, but she thinks she liked it.

This is portrayed as being cute and romantic.

This is rape culture.

I’m also talking about Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, a book which many, many men in my life have assured me is an accurate representation of how the contemporary male brain works. I’m talking about passages like this, in which the protagonist talks about his teenage self trying to touch his girlfriend’s breasts:

“These were the questions boys asked other boys at my school (a school that contained only boys): ‘Are you getting any?’; ‘Does she let you have any?’; ‘How much does she let you have?’; and so on. Sometimes the questions were derisory, and expected the answer ‘No’: ‘You’re not getting anything, are you?’; ‘You haven’t even had a bit of tit, have you?’ … Attack and defence, invasion and repulsion —  it was as if breasts were little pieces of property that had been unlawfully annexed by the opposite sex — they were rightfully ours and we wanted them back.”

And when this is how our boys are taught to view women’s bodies, it makes a sick sort of sense that they would they would want to document their ‘victories.’ It makes sense that they would want a sort of trophy, like a stuffed stag’s head to mount above their mantel, to use as proof to their peers that they’d succeeded in their conquest. The way that teenage boys are taught to view girls and their bodies makes it easier for me to wrap my head around why they would even think about photographing their rape victim and then spreading those pictures around on social media.

I will try to teach my son about consent. I will try to teach him about respect. I will try to teach him about bodily autonomy and the evils of peer pressure and the fact that his actions have consequences. I will try to teach him how to be a kind, thoughtful person. But I am only one voice, and when my son is a teenager, mine will be the voice that he wants to ignore the most.

The truth is that someday my son might commit rape. And if that day ever comes, he may not even realize that he is a rapist. His victim may not realize that she has been raped. Certainly she would feel uncomfortable, maybe even deeply frightened and unhappy about what has happened, but I’m not confident that she would be able to identify and articulate what she has experienced as rape. Everything and everyone, their peers, the media, our culture, would collude to convince them that what has happened is not a crime.

I woke up this morning to the news that yet another girl was raped, had the details of her rape passed around and celebrated on social media, and was harassed until she committed suicide. Her name was Audrie Pott. She was fifteen years old.

Audrie Pott. Amanda Todd. Rehtaeh Parsons. Steubenville’s Jane Doe.

When I see these cases discussed on social media, I keep seeing the same themes coming up.

Where were these teenager’s parents when they were out drinking and partying?

How did the boys’ parents raise such monsters?

Why does this keep happening?

The fact is that these boys aren’t monsters. These boys are the end sum of all of the lessons about sexuality, consent and masculinity that society has been shoving down their throats since the day they were born. That is why this keeps happening, and will continue to happen until we make serious changes about how we talk to our children about sex, empathy and respect.

If you dismiss these boys as monsters, if you assume that these assaults are simply isolated crimes committed by teenage sociopaths, then you are part of the problem.

If these boys are monsters, it’s because we, as a society, made them that way.

I am only just realizing that I’m not sure how to raise my son not to be a monster.

My son is two years old.

He loves me more than anything.

He is a good boy.

I don’t know how to make sure that he stays that way.

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