I came across this great article today by way of Facebook called “6 WAYS WE (ACCIDENTALLY) TEACH OUR KIDS RAPE CULTURE” [full article link is at the top of this post). It talks about six ways parents unknowingly and unintentionally teach about and validate Rape Culture. The article defines the six ways, and offers suggestions on what a parent can do/say differently to not teach their children Rape Culture.
This is a great article, and it makes a lot of sense. It shows that we are forming the minds of children to accept rape culture, victim blaming, being afraid to say no, and slut shaming. Children are like sponges, and they are very smart. What the underlying meanings of what they are taught build the core of their own belief systems, way of thinking and actions that they take as they grow into teenagers and adults.
Number one is:
“Telling our kids that- “boys will be boys.””
Now, just like it is stated in the article, when most people say “boys will
be boys” they do not mean any harm by it.
“But every time they hear us excuse their
bad behavior as part of boy life,they learn
that they are not only above the rules, but
also that boys cannot control their impulses.”
If boys are constantly being told this from such a young age, how can anyone realistically expect that it will not have an effect on them as they grow into teens, young adults and full grown men?
“As parents, we cannot be shocked that boys feel entitled to sexually harass others (whether it’s standard rape, like in Steubenville, or as part of the all-too-common tradition of sexual “hazing”) when we’ve been telling them their whole lives that they are above the rules, by virtue of being boys.”
I grew up with two younger brothers, do you know how many times I heard both of my parents say those
exact same words? Now my brothers do not contribute to rape culture (or at least I have never observed them doing so). Also as a child, a lot of my friends had brothers too. I heard their parents say the exact same thing…same goes for aunts and uncles. This message needs to stop being taught to boys and girls. Boys and men are perfectly capable of controlling their impulses. It is a parents job to teach children of both genders impulse control, gender has nothing to do with it, being a child is when you learn impulse control. This whole “boys will be boys” sounds very innocent, but not only does it do what has already been explained, it also creates the common “excuse” that rapists use…”It’s not my fault”
Number two is:
“Forcing kids to hug and kiss others.”
This on is so very dangerous on so many levels. It teaches children that it is ok to have their boundaries violated. That if they say no, it is ok for someone to force them to do it anyway – thus the word “No” is not meaning or taken as a “No”. That it is ok for someone to force someone else to do something that they do not want to do. It teaches that they are not in charge of their body, and what they say about their body does not go. Also, it forces them into doing something that they do not want to do and that their family is ok with it.
“Lots of well-meaning, loving parents tell their kids to give a friend or relative a hug without considering whether their kid really wants to. This sends the dangerous message that consent can be over-ridden, or doesn’t matter at all.”
Take my nephew for example. He is a sweet affectionate 5yr old. He loves to give Auntie (me) hugs. B
ut sometimes when I see him, I open my arms wide to receive a hug, and he shakes his head no. What do I do? Nothing. Some day’s I don’t feel like giving a person that I know a hug, I am just not feeling it. What makes it any different when a child says no to a hug from a family member? Children are living breathing humans with feelings. Sometimes…they just are not in the mood, end of story. There is nothing wrong with that.So when a child does not want to give auntie hug, or grandma a kiss….so what. Children need to learn that it is ok to say no, that no actually means no, and that no one can just go forcing themselves to give them an unwanted hug or kiss. And people wonder why we live in a society filled with rape culture. When I say this, I am not by any means blaming parents for doing this. [I myself have been wondering how we as a society have gotten here, and after reading this article it really makes more sense to me] By making children do things like hug or kiss a relative, when they get older they may not see an issue with the following things such as:
- Accepting that no means no
- That it is ok to force people to do things they do not want to
- That boundaries are overrated
- That consent does not matter
- That there is nothing wrong with any or all of the above
Number three is:
“Asking, “What did you do to make him hit you?””
This one, right here teaches everyone the concept of victim blaming. I don’t think that I have never heard a parent not say this to a child, especially one who has multiple children. Teachers….teachers also say this one a lot! Let’s say that the kids are at recess. Let’s say that Bobby punches Ricky in the face and gives him a black eye. Ricky runs up to the teacher and say’s “Bobby hit me”. (Now I actually remember hearing this on the playground as a child) Teachers first words, “Well Ricky, what did you do to make Bobby hit you?” BAM right there, victim blaming 101 with elementary school children. Of course if you have siblings, it can start much much younger than that.
“Asking, “What did you do to make him hit you?” teaches both the victim and the aggressor that a person can force someone else to make a bad choice. This message is all too common in our“What were you wearing the night you were raped?” society.”
On top of what the articles says, the teacher student scenario that I described (and just asking the question what did you do…”teaches bully and victim that victims are questioned, felt to be made that they are not believed, upon accusation made to have substantial proof (other than the black eye of course), and the bully is not recognized as the issue right now, it is the victim with the black eye who is “telling on the bully” Oh, that is another good point…usually children on the playground do not like tattle tales, no matter what the reason, thus translating into “keep your mouth shut” Teachers (understandably and parents too) get frustrated with children constantly coming up to them saying that (he did this, she did that, and they did this…) so often times teachers and parents will say no one likes a tattle tale. This of course is more geared to the every day minor things children do to each other that they all find dramatic. However, instilling that message in their head, I believe, plays part of the role in the silence of victims.
“Teaching kids that boys hit girls because they like them.”
“It doesn’t matter whether your child is a girl or a boy, it’s important they learn early on that hitting or hurting someone to get their attention is never okay. And it is absolutely not a way to show somebody that you like them.”
This entire statement and concept reinforces domestic violence. Ir is never…EVER ok to do this to someone.
Number five is:
“Slut-shaming any girl or woman in front of kids.”
Children are like little sponges, and they see and hear everything! They listen when you are having an “adult conversation” with someone else, even when you think that they are not. And since they do not know what is going on, they make their own assumptions. Since authority figures to them are the ones who are in charge, they take what they hear as truth, whether or not what was said is indeed true or not.
“If our kids hear us excusing rape or sexual assault in any way, they will internalize that message. They will also hear you degrading women for their sexuality or clothing, and they will remember that.
They may start to believe that there are circumstances in which they deserve to be raped or assaulted, or believe that they are entitled to commit (or even just excuse) rape or sexual assault if the victim seemed to “deserve it.” Whether that’s because a woman made a “slutty” choice or because a male victim “seemed gay,” it is wrong. Every time.”
Number six is:
Reinforcing the idea that girls should be “pure.”
This one is equally damaging for both genders.
“A lot of girls today are taught that their value lies in their “purity” (meaning virginity or modesty) in a time when that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Girls are expected to remain virgins until marriage, despite the fact that 95 percent of Americans have sex before marriage. Even evangelical Christians have premarital sex at a rate of 80 percent, despite all the propaganda insisting women remain “pure” for marriage.”
Seriously, first of all, look at the day in age we live in…this is just not realistic. Meanwhile, boys/men are looked at as “experienced” when they have sex before marriage, and are seen by there peers as “the man” when the have sex in high school college. Talk about a double standard?! Not to mention, we are all humans, we all have desires. This whole “no sex before marriage thing started when people were marring at the age on 16 or younger….that is not how it works today!
There are other issues with this too;
“For other kids, teaching that sex is only okay in marriage, or even only when you’re in love, can cause them to make less-than-healthy choices. Marnie Goldenberg, a health consultant and sexual health educator, says that for teens, trying to connect sex with love can actually become a trap. Girls are taught that being in love will always keep you sexually safe, which simply isn’t always true.”
This right here in my opinion makes people “lie” about being “in love” just to get some “action” and it does not matter what the gender is, it works both ways.
“The idea that marriage, or even being in love, are prerequisites for ethical sex also casts girls who aren’t “pure” as not as deserving of society’s protec
tion against abuse and rape.”
This is a powerful statement that I think is true. We see every day women and men “slut shaming” women because they have sexual desires even though they are not in love. This
can lead to certain men not valuing a woman who has made the choice to have sex because she want’s to, thus feeling entitled to “do what he want’s to her”. I think in a way that it leads to victim blaming as well. One could gather that if the female was “pure” then she would never have brought something like this upon herself.
While researching rape, I see “slut shaming” all over the place. And it isn’t even just women who decide to have sex with a partner of their choosing, is has to do with what she is wearing, how she is acting, and if she is drinking. How this relates is that “A pure woman would not do that”. Being a “pure woman” has to do with your soul, not if you decide to have sex with someone before marriage.
The fact of the matter is, that what we teach our children when they are young, whether we mean to or not, has a huge impact on their morals, judgment, self awareness, and their view of others as they develop into adults. To be honest, after reading this article, I would be so afraid to be a parent, as I already unsure that I want kids. It is such a huge responsibility, and I think that sometimes we forget how big it really is, and how everything we say and do has a major impact in shaping the people they become.