My concern is how do we talk to our children about our rape culture?
Nothing brings out what’s bothering children faster than a captive, noisy road trip. Our family of six spent over 15 cozy hours driving to and from Maine to spend Thanksgiving with my parents.
The reward, aside from seeing mom and dad, was that cellphones were turned off in the car, forcing us to tune in to, and untangle, the squabbling between our tweens and teens.
My husband and I were so involved with outcomes of elections that we neglected to clear up subjects inadvertently gnawing at our children that were blatantly exposed by the media over the past year. Here are some of the questions that surfaced.
These were the easy ones.
- What is rape?
- What is groping?
- Why does the new president grope women, even those who are already married?
- How come a president can get away with breaking the law?
- If the president kills someone or has someone liquidated, does he get arrested?
- You say we can’t use the word pussy, but the new president uses it, so how bad can the word be?
- We get fined 25 cents every time we use the b, c, or f words. Does the president?
- Do his children get fined the way we do?
Needless to say, we’re looking forward to future road trips.
At least you and your husband are listeners interested in the concerns of your children. Sadly, we live in a rape culture.
Rape is not only about sex, it is about power. We reward the objectification of women because it is the route to social status.
Whether harassed by catcalls on the sidewalk, targeted unfairly at your workplace, suffering objectification by the media, or being assaulted by the more obvious acts of violence, rape and murder, don’t avoid talking about these issues with your older children.
- For example, the world viewed Trump describe trying to seduce a married woman without having a clue as to how she might feel about his assault. As the pussy-grabber-in-chief-elect, Trump thinks it makes him appear more masculine than the man who does not treat women as sexual objects.
- With the teens, regale them with the downfall tale of former prime minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi, who has much in common with Trump. Both are known womanizers. In their early seventies and overly tanned. Real estate tycoons, who didn’t pay taxes. And pride themselves on being cleverer than the media, outsmarting journos with every obnoxious quote.
But five years ago, Italian women rose up and marched a million strong to tell the world that sexism and misogyny are not just wrong but bigoted. They told the world that they didn’t want to be living in a fifties movie any longer: Berlusconi was out.
When still in power he was asked about the fast rising statistics of sexual violence in Italy. Berlusconi smooched it off by saying, “We don’t have enough soldiers to stop rape, because our women are so beautiful.” Wrestle with that non sequitur.
- For instance, in answer to the rape question. Try an empathy-teaching response such as, “You wouldn’t seriously force yourself on a girl, or another person, like that, would you?”
- Your husband could say, “I’ve never felt that it would be nice to force myself on anyone.”
According to the US Justice Department, a rape or attempted rape occurs every five minutes in this country, and yet we know that many, many more go unreported.
The Million Women’s March on Washington, D.C., the day after the inauguration, won’t merely be a march against the sexist pussy-grabber-in-chief Trump: the gathering should be all abut communicating the idea that women are the nation.
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