Wednesday, February 27, 2013
It's never her fault.
This morning, my son waved goodbye to me as he left for day care (our families rotate watching him). It was the sweetest thing – he waved and said “bye, see you.” My heart melted, as it always does around him. Before leaving, I was getting him ready, and I couldn’t help but notice how tall he was getting. Not even two years old and he’s almost three feet tall! They definitely grow VERY fast, literally and figuratively. That got me thinking… what do I want my son to learn from me? What kind of person do I envision him becoming? Parents are their children’s first teachers. I firmly and wholeheartedly believe that. Although I can go on and on about all that I want to teach my son, I came across one post recently on Facebook that spoke to me. It was about rape.
“Victims never cause rape, rapists do. Being out late doesn’t cause rape, rapists do. Short skirts don’t cause rape, rapists do. Flirting doesn’t cause rape, rapists do. Walking home alone doesn’t cause rape, rapists do. Drinking too much doesn’t cause rape, rapists do.”
We have become a society where rape is almost always the fault of the woman. She was asking for it. She shouldn’t have worn that outfit. She should have known better than to be out that late. All things many of us have heard. Shame on you if you have fallen into that societal pitfall of blaming women for the heinous actions committed by… rapists. We must change our mindset to stop blaming the victim for what happened to her. It isn’t her fault. Ever.
That will be an important lesson I teach my child as date and acquaintance rape in college youth is higher than it ever once was, mostly being committed by male students toward female students. According to the Center for Women and Families (CWF): “Date Rape occurs when there is forced or coerced sex within a dating relationship. With Acquaintance Rape the act is committed by someone known to the victim. Nearly 2/3 of all victims between the ages of 18 and 29 report that they had a prior relationship with their attacker.”
I am raising a boy to be a man; therefore this will be an important topic of discussion. I find it incredibly disheartening that “every two minutes, a woman in the U.S. is sexually assaulted” (U.S. Department of Justice's National Crime Victimization Survey) or that 60% of rapes/sexual assaults are not reported to the police (U.S. Department of Justice) or that 73% of sexual assaults were committed by a non-stranger (U.S. Department of Justice). Society and the backward mentality of some has forced women into feeling as if rape was somehow their fault and therefore many live with that shame for the rest of their lives.
We need to break that cycle. It starts at home – by teaching our sons and daughters that rape is always the fault of the rapists, to advocate for strong young women and respectful strong young men. We need to teach our children the basic instinct of human dignity. Humanity cannot be a lost in a world full of hate, brutality and rape happening every two minutes.
This will be just one of the many life lessons I plan on teaching my son.