Every mother with a precious daughter has read the articles--they stream through our Facebook feeds. The articles about how to keep your daughter safe in a world of sexual predators. There are apps you can download that will send out alerts if you don't return from a date on time, nail polish to check for knock-out drugs, and lots of advice in the area of raising empowered women who don't need men to validate them.
But I have decided not to read those anymore. Because I have two sons and one daughter and it seems like I should spend twice as much effort ensuring that my boys don't become rapists.
Now, I'm not talking about leap-out-from-the-bushes and attack a woman rapists. Those boys, unfortunately, are being raised in depraved, abusive environments, most likely, and I doubt very much that their caregivers read any sort of articles about how to raise them.
I mean, mothers, that we all have a duty to spend just as much time ensuring we aren't raising a date rapist as we are ensuring that our daughters have mace.
This is an uncomfortable subject for us as mothers. There is so much talk lately about victim-blaming, but if we look inside, I think it is easier for us to see our precious child as a victim of some else's violence than to even contemplate the idea that for every young lady who gets raped after drinking at a party, there is a young man who should have known better--and he has a mother.
I Googled "how to keep your son from becoming a rapist" and I wasn't sure what I would find. There wasn't much but what I did find was in line with my thinking so much that I want to quote from a few articles.
Writing at The Hathor Legacy, a blog about women in TV and the movies, Jennifer Kesler hits upon the key way that many parents are "abusing" their children and raising future rapists:
Teaching your son that he’s your Golden Boy and can do no wrong and anyone who says otherwise is just a nasty pile of envy,to the extent that he does not develop empathy or conscience,
Over at PhD in Parenting, the author says about rape culture:
Somehow most of us seem to be able to teach our children that opening a cupboard at someone's house and helping yourself to whatever is in there without asking first is inappropriate. How is it that we manage to do that, but the message that sexual consent is important just doesn't sink in?
Referencing the Steubenville rape case,Avital Norman Nathman wrote on The Frisky:
Nobody wants to think of their son as a potential sexual assaulter. I know I don’t. I look at my sweet, sweet son and I know in my heart that he would never hurt a fellow human being, let alone violate and disrespect them... But I’m also not living in a fantasy bubble. I’m sure the mothers and fathers of the boys involved thought their sons weren’t capable of such horrific, violating actions either. In fact, most of the town is still in denial...
I have been writing this blog post for a long time in my head but I feel that these other bloggers said what I wanted to say even better than I could have said it, so I'll just end with Nathman from The Frisky:
So here I am, days away from my son’s sixth birthday, thinking about how we need to teach our boys not to rape, instead of cautioning our daughters on how not to get raped...I also challenge all parents, even ones deeply immersed in communities where this sort of behavior has been ingrained forever, to talk to your sons and teach them that this is not acceptable behavior for anyone.