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Friday
Jan042013

Will Your Son Be a Rapist? 

Yesterday, Avital Norman Nathman wrote a post on The Frisky about her wishes for her six year old son. She wrote:

My son turns six next week, and among all the other wishes I have for him, I have a silent hope that won’t be shared at his birthday party. It’s one that swims in the depths of my mind, surfacing occasionally when awful things happen that force me to think about it: I wish and hope and pray that my son won’t grow up to be a rapist.


Her concern resurfaced after a video was released showing teens joking about a rape in their community, among their friends. Joking, laughing, showing a horrible, unfathomable lack of concern or respect for the victim. Avital wrote about the role that rape culture plays in allowing something like this to take place in Steubenville, but that could also allow it to take place in just about any other place in our male dominated world.

This [rape culture] all aids in creating an environment where a young boy feels comfortable and confident in making jokes about somebody being raped. This boy isn’t “too young to understand the seriousness of this situation.” You’re never too young to understand violating another person is wrong, and if you somehow made it to 16-years-old without that knowledge, that is symptomatic of a larger societal problem that excuses or normalizes behavior like that. When people are afraid to stand up for a 16-year-old gang rape victim because of the posterity of their high school football team? We should be shouting at the top of our lungs for things to change.


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? I think it is partially because most families don't talk openly about sex and sexual relationships with their children. The parents prefer to assume that the children aren't having sex and the children prefer to assume that the parents aren't having sex and both do everything in their power to support that facade. But it is, of course, also because of rape culture.

Like with so many other things, pop culture and the media play a huge role in defining what we see as right, wrong, normal and abnormal. Whether we're talking about the patriarchy and positions of power, about bottle culture, about crazed consumerism, about junk food, or about rape culture, we are what we see. Most people are not trailblazers or leaders. Most people are mirrors of the society they grow up in.

Balancing Jane wrote this week that she's also been thinking a lot about consent and its link to culture. She wrote:

Just as I don't think that gun culture kills people (murderers do), I don't think that rape culture rapes people (rapists do). However, I see no contradiction between calling out a culture that makes rape and violence acceptable and also holding individuals responsible for their crimes. One does not excuse the other.

However, I do think that making a change in the amount of crimes that happens requires both punishing individual perpetrators and examining the culture surrounding them.


She then goes on to look at disturbing examples of people who are treated like heroes in pop culture for not raping someone when they had the chance and notes:


Not being a rapist should not be a symbol of being a hero; it should be the bare minimum for decent behavior. Refusing to sleep with someone who is too intoxicated to consent or who is being forced into sex because someone is threatening her does not make you a "good guy;" it just means that you pass one of the lowest bars for basic humane treatment.


She responds by asking for examples of situations where consent is handled well in pop culture. Not a lot of them come to mind immediately. There are certainly more examples of consent simply being assumed than consent explicitly being shown. If people assume consent in the movies and on television, how can we expect our sons to act differently? How can we teach our daughters to expect more?

Just tell them, will be the advice and the assumption of people who assume parental supremacy. But that isn't good enough, it hasn't been good enough, it will never be enough. We need to change.

On my facebook page this week, I asked my readers what societal issue is most on their mind as a parent as they look out on the year 2013. Teresa Pitman wrote something that resonated with me, and with a lot of other readers. She wrote:

I don't know how to accomplish it, but I think we need a fundamental shift in what we value - to move from valuing money and "things" and what we can buy to valuing people and relationships. If we could have that focus in our society, I think it would lead to support for parents as parents and for meeting the needs of children.


I don't know how to accomplish it either, but I do think it has to start concurrently in our homes and in pop culture. We need to model the type of people that we want our children to be, but we also need them to see that modeled in society. Equality, respect for each other and the environment, empathy, health, and love should be the default, not something we need to fight against the mainstream to achieve.



 

Photo credit: garryknight on flickr and poster credit: Consent is Sexy

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Reader Comments (52)

Today's parents have so many resources for raising smart, empowered feminist daughters, yet we still fumble around for how we should raise compassionate, respectful feminist sons. It's the missing piece of the women's movement, and it is so desperately needed!

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterShannon Drury

I am very cognizant of this with my own son. Maybe more so because my father, and now my husband, aren't always respectful of physical boundaries (e.g. tickling after the victim asks them to stop). I finally had to explain to my husband very plainly, specifically re: tickling our 8 year-old daughter: "If you don't respect her voice when she is asking you to stop, why should she expect her 16 year-old boyfriend to respect it?! You're teaching her that her protests have no power." He looked like I hit him with a ton of bricks. *THIS* is the insidiousness of rape culture, that I basically had to punch my otherwise gentle and respectful and not-rapey husband in the face (figuratively) with this truth before he realized the power and self-confidence he could potentially be stealing from our daughter. That isn't to say I don't plan to continually talk with my son about maintaining his own respect for others' physical boundaries, but I want to also help my husband model appropriate behavior, even if it means continuing to bash him in the head with those figurative bricks.

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLisa S.

This is such and important topic. Like Balancing Jane said, rape culture doesn't cause rape, but it does provide the safety for rapists to rape and not be held accountable. One thing we (society) need to do is lose the mentality that when "good boys" rape, it isn't because they just didn't know her being drunk (as as an example) means she is unable to consent. Rapists look for opportunities to rape. That is not being a "good boy".

I think it is one of my most important tasks as the mother of a boy will be to teach him only enthusiastic consent is acceptable.

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterOlivia

Yes!! I, too, use those figurative bricks with a lot of people, including my own family. I teach my boys, and girl, that No means No. This applies to rough-housing, teasing, anything! I tell them bluntly that if someone says stop, you have to stop whatever game or activity even if you are still having fun, because your friend is not. You must be respectful, I say, of their wishes. And I tell other parents, particularly of boys, that No Means No starts now, as they are toddlers and elementary school students, and applies to so much before sex even becomes involved in the equation. And yes,c they look at me like I've hit them, but I've seen a few people get it, amongst their immediate distaste that I referred to their child and something almost akin to sex in the same breath.

We need to keep saying it, and modeling it. We have to.

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoy

Agreed that the key is to teach equality and respect in all areas - sexuality is just one component. Also, I've always thought that gender separation contributes not only to inequality in general, but to rape culture specifically. The challenge is how to teach children that the kids of the other gender are people just like they are, and that gender is just one component of who a person is - and nowhere near the most important one. (Best to do this as early as possible, before the puberty hormones kick in and confuse everyone.)

One challenge I had when one of my sons was around 8, and while listening to the news asked what rape was. My approach on sex education was to be open and answer questions honestly, but tailored to the cognitive and social level of the kids. So my first response was to simply say that it was a way to hurt someone.

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTheo Bromine

Lisa you are so correct in bringing the issue right back to the home, where it all starts (even if our husbands have the best of intentions)!

I work with victims of sexual abuse and while I know father's/male figures play an important role I had never broken it down this far as to when a child says "No" to tickling. You really hit the nail on the head! Thank you!

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRosie

I completely agree with you that gender segregation is playing a role. If we teach kids from birth on (or pre-birth, even baby shower cards are gendered) that boys and girls are so different, then it's hard to break down narratives like "girls like to play hard to get" and "boys need to chase" that come later. They've spent their whole lives seeing through toys, television shows, etc. that they're different, so why wouldn't this be different too?

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBalancingJane

My son just turned two. I started months ago teaching him, "If your friend isn't having fun anymore, you have to stop." So we're at playgroup, and he and his buddies are playing with trucks, and someone starts fussing, I say it. If he hits, I say it. I'm hoping that it gets hardwired into his brain now, so that when he's a teenager and beyond, he'll understand that if your friend isn't having fun anymore, you have to stop. Period.

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

How many people around the world laughed when they saw on the news that a mans wife cut off his penis. Nobody got in an uproar about that... The majority of men in this world respect and care for their women. But, there will always be a few bad apples...

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterD

Thank you so much for this post. As the mother to two young boys, this is much on my mind this week. I do want to clarify that the video of the teens joking about the rape was filmed while the assault was still in progress, in the house where the assault was taking place. The boy speaking on the video had just participated in/witnessed the assault. I feel this needs to be said, as the media is not providing the context for it, a context which makes it so much worse. It would be bad enough were it post facto, but in fact it was contemporaneous with the events described.

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRebekka

You are right, I did not know that. If that is the case, all the people at the party who were aware of what was happening and did nothing to stop it should be charged with being accomplices. Horrible.

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

Oops, meant to be a reply to Rebekka above. As another mom of two boys, I've blogged my thoughts here: http://mum2beautifulboys.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/raising-boys-to-men/

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

This is a big thing with me- one of my biggest goals as a parent is teaching my boys respect for others's wishes and bodies. I make consent a big deal-- if one wants to play a game and the other doesn't, that needs to be respected. If one wants quiet time or space for himself, that needs to be respected. If we're wrestling or playing tickle games and one of them says no or stop, that needs to be respected. We'll have more specific conversations about sex and relationships as they get older, but I hope that helping them learn about and respect consent now will lay the groundwork for all this later.

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarcy

This certainly is an important concern. My partner pointed out to me when our son was about 4 that I was sometimes saying "no" to him, then allowing him to talk me into saying "yes", and this not only was bad for my parental authority but also could be undermining the sense of "no means no" that he'll need when he gets older--and, of course, a boy's mother is one of his most important sources of information and experience about how to relate to women. I have been more careful about this ever since!

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter'Becca

I am a mother to three daughters and a survivor of rape. I grapple with how to address the issue with my girls because in my case I had people not believe me, had figures of authority tell me not to let what had happened be known (reputations you know!) and had law enforcement tell me that my case would be unwinnable. It is very hard to impress the need to be cautious, to be defiantly assertive about their bodies, to understand right and wrong AND to understand that at the end of the day, some people just won't believe them.

I hope that we can keep talking about this, keep impressing upon our society the idea of "the lowest bars for basic humane treatment."

Thank you for writing this.

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

This is a powerful post. I think that as mothers of sons we do need to do more. For starters, we can stop saying-- or not speaking up when others say-- things like "boys will be boys".

Here's a link to a post that illustrates this so well: http://www.rolereboot.org/family/details/2012-10-boys-will-be-boys-is-no-excuse-for-bad-behavior

A little boy kept knocking down the author's daughter's block tower in preschool. The boy's parents never stopped it before it happened, and made jokey excuses afterwards.

"Not once did they talk to him about invading another little person's space and claiming for his own purposes something that was not his to claim. It was, to them, some kind of XY entitlement. How much of the boy's behavior in coming years would be excused in these ways, be calibrated to meet these expectations, and enforce the “rules” his parents kept repeating?"

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMama Mo

Most of the women I know were horrified at this.
Violence is NEVER acceptable.
Ever.
and if the majority of men did respect and care for women, this conversation would not be happening.

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterlisa

It truly is, Shannon.

That is true in terms of issues like rape culture, but also true in terms of ensuring women can do anything a man can do without also having to do everything that a woman traditionally did. In a http://www.phdinparenting.com/2009/05/18/feminism-fathers-and-valuing-parenthood/" rel="nofollow">post on feminism, fathers and valuing parenthood, I wrote:

"The problem with feminist mothering is that it either pushes for women to be freed from the shackles of motherhood (by making it easier for them to put their kids into day care) or it pushes for concessions in the workplace for women (more maternity leave, more sick leave, breaks and accommodations to pump breastmilk at work, etc.).

While I don’t think there is anything wrong with pushing for those things, I think we need to push for something more, something different.

We need to push for a society that values family and parenthood. One that recognizes that role that parents play in raising the next generation. One that recognizes that fathers, like mothers, may need to strike a balance between their career and their family life. One where women don’t feel that they have to be an equally uninvolved parent in order to reach their goals, but where they can ask their partner to step up too."

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Exactly!

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Yes, teaching respect in all aspects of our children's lives (and giving them the same respect that we expect them to display) is critical to setting up the foundation.

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Wow, Rebekka. I hadn't realized that. That is just awful.

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Amanda:

I think that telling your daughters that you WILL believe them and support them is incredibly important. That way, they'll know that you will always be that safe place.

Here's an article I remember reading once about a woman who decided it was time to tell her daughter about her own rape: http://lifestyle.ca.msn.com/living/inner-you/rogers-article.aspx?cp-documentid=24727374

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

That is a tough one. I catch myself sometimes saying "no" almost as a default and am trying not to do that as often. Sometimes "not right now" or "I'll think about it" or "let's talk about it again once you've [finished lunch, cleaned your room, gotten dressed]" are acceptable answers too. I don't always need to say yes or no right away.

I want to teach my children that "no means no", but I also don't want to be the parent who is always saying no just to wield my parental authority over them.

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

That was a horrific act and no one should have been laughing about it. Men abusing women is more than just "a few bad apples" though. It is a widespread societal problem that needs to be addressed. The statistics support that.

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

You pinpointed it exactly, Lisa. I am dealing with the same scenario in my family. Our son is the youngest of our four children with two strong, feminist older sisters and another sis close to his age who is following in her role model sisters' footsteps. I am confident my son will not participate in or condone a culture of rape, but I have had to continually call my husband on his own joking, kidding, not-malicious-but-nevertheless-objectionable behavior, and discuss the situation with my son with the goal and expectation that he will learn how to be as well as how not to be.

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKari

I'll look into it, but I refuse to be bundled in to a "widespread" problem. Maybe it's the people I hang around with, but I'm not aware of any men in my circle of friends and acquaintances abusing women. I would be disgusted and horrified if it was so widespread that I would be associating with one. Probably men abusing men is much more common in my experience.

I am currently disgusted by one deacon, who helped baptize two of my children, to have been found in possession of child porn. He's innocent until proven of course, but the thought of that makes my stomach turn because I of course would never have associated with him. Perhaps it is behind the scenes.

I agree with D that I don't want to be bundled in with these other abusive men.

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlex | Perfecting Dad

What made you think you were being bundled into a widespread problem? The problem exists, for sure. It doesn't mean every man is a part of the problem. It does mean a lot of them are though.

Here are just a few stats. They demonstrate a widespread problem, where the majority of victims are women and the majority of attackers are men.

How Often Does Sexual Assault Occur?
* 1, 397 sexual assaults occur in Canada every day.
*Once every minute a woman or child in Canada is sexually assaulted (forced sexual touching)
*A woman is raped (forced to have sexual intercourse) every 17 minutes in Canada

Who Are The Victims Of Sexual Assault?
* 82% of sexual assault victims are women or girls
* 15% of sexual assault victims are boys under 17
* 3% of sexual assault victims are men over 17
* 56% of female victims are under 18 years of age
* 25% of female victims are under 12 years of age
* 44% of female victims are over 18 year of age
* 77% of stalking victims are women

What Percentage of Canadian Women Are Victims Of Sexual Violence?
*39% of Canadian women (or 2 out of 5) have been sexually assaulted since the age of sixteen
*24% of Canadian girls under age 16 have experienced rape or coercive sex.
* 51% of Canadian Women have been victims of physical or sexual violence since the age of sixteen.
* 24% of Canadian women have been forced into sexual activity by threat, by being held down, or by being hurt in some way.
* 30% of women currently or previously married have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence at the hands of a marital partner.

Who Are The Attackers?
*98% of sexual attackers are men.
*80% of sexual offenders are over 18 years of age.
*44% of sexual offenders are over 35 years of age.
*50% of sexual offenders - at the time of the assault - are married or living common-law, have children, and are considered responsible members of the community.

78% of sexual attackers were men the victim knew prior to the attack.
* 35% was a close friend or acquaintance
* 32% was a past or current partner
* 11% was a family member
* 22% of sexual attackers were strangers

http://www.fsacc.ca/content/45357

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

You might be surprised by how well men who are abusive can hide their behavior from others.

January 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCaitlin

Perhaps? behind the scenes. Remember, men don't generally have to try very hard to do this. Women and other family members are pretty good, by and large, at keeping that private stuff oh, so private and it only takes an occasional threat or reminder from an abuser to keep it that way.

To rethink your attitudes about the people around you, always bear in mind that almost half of the adult women you know will have experienced some form of sexual or other violent assault. When you look at men though, there are far fewer of them because many but not all abusive people keep on doing it. They move from one 'unsuccessful' encounter or relationship to another leaving a trail of fear, and statistics, behind them.

If you know more than ten women, you probably know four or more women who are/ were afraid of at least one man. If you know more than ten men, you probably know at least one who has had coercive sex or who has otherwise physically assaulted a woman at some time.

It's not pretty but it's a good idea to be conscious of how easily any of your own children could be included in these numbers by the time they're 30. All the comments on here about teaching little people to respect others' boundaries and to expect that their own boundaries will be respected in turn are a good start.

January 5, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteradelady

In addition to that, with my boys I add that there are girls out there that will say "yes" to get their attention. These are desperate girls who do not really want to have sex, they want male attention. I encourage my boys to stay strong in that situation.

January 5, 2013 | Unregistered Commenternicol

I agree with so many of the comments that teaching our sons and daughters about respecting their own and others ' physical limits is key. I have been struggling with how to talk to an in -law about respecting my three year old 's space. It really boils down to his inability to pick up on my son 's cues. I don't want to make this adult feel bad, but at the same time if I let that stop me from speaking up I am perpetuating the very culture you are describing.

This is an issue where I think I would actually be much more on top of it if my son was a girl. In general, I think even us more "aware " parents tend to allow ours sons ' physical boundaries to be crossed more often than girls ' and my guess is it does stem from that underlying societal belief that boys are more physical, whatever that means. I don't think there's a straight line between that and rape,but we would be kidding ourselves if we deny there is any connection. Thanks for the great and thought provoking post.

January 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMyla

[...] Annie from PhDinParenting wrote a post about rape culture and it hits a little closer to [...]

January 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTen Blogs January 6, 2013

Those kids depicted in that Steubenville rape video are sociopaths. I doubt that anything their parents did to raise them differently would make much difference.

Let's remember. They weren't just laughing at her getting raped. They were laughing at her being dead. That's sick beyond belief.

January 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTS

The kids in the video aren't sociopaths TS, they're normal teenage boys. What are the odds that in a town that small the coaches are sociopaths, the boys who raped her and kidnapped her are sociopaths, all of the kids at the parties were sociopaths, and the people rallying around them as "good boys" are sociopaths? It's comforting to think they are, since it pushes them away from us and our culture and makes them "monsters" that bear no relation to what we are.
It doesn't make it true though. People absorb the messages of their culture about privilege, about the value of women, and about consent. They do things in groups they would never do as individuals, and they do things as individuals that fly in the face of them being "good people". Saying that these boys must have been sociopaths promotes rape culture because it provides an easy answer, and excuse and at the same time shuts down examination of why these boys thought that what they did was a perfectly acceptable thing to do, to the point where they let multiple people film or photograph them in the act, and why the people around them (which would have included a lot of teen girls as well, these were parties after all) made no move to stop them? Were they all sociopaths?

I have trouble imagining a team of sociopaths would be very good at football, they tend not to be very good team players.

To address your second comment: Rape is stunningly common. It is not committed by a handful of people with mental disorders, Hoping that you can counteract a culture that exerts an enormous amount of influence on your child to view other people as commodities and to view consent as some sort of airy fairy concept rife with grey areas is not an irrational wish. It doesn't make you sick in the head to hope your child grows up to be a good person, and that you can be successful in teaching them to respect boundaries. It's an uphill battle to teach young men in this culture that women are people just like them, and not alien creatures with unknowable mental landscapes.

January 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPolymath Father

Polymath Father

I played high school football and was in a group of friends that did some significant high school / college partying and let me tell you, if everything these guys did is true, there's something significantly wrong with some / most of them.

I'm not talking about the ones who sit back and let it happen. There's lots of reasons why good people sit back and watch things like this occur and don't act that have been documented in research. I'm talking about the ones who actually did the crime.

Normal men do not plan to drug, rape, and sodomize a passed out 16 old girl multiple times and then laugh that she might me dead. They didn't do this because of a "rape culture" or because they think that women are beneath them. This goes way beyond having sex with a willing girl who's drunk at a party. I hope they pay for these crimes for the rest of their lives.

I agree that Rape is too common. One Rape is too many . But that world is used way too often to describe many different scenarios. High School and college are confusing times with thoughts and feeelings and situations that are completely new and most likely fuled by alcohol and drugs. Situations like Steubenville are definitely rape and are disgusting. My guilty Catholic high school girlfriend who said yes and no 15 times everytime we had sex (always starting and ending on a yes) and then later told the school I had been raping her is not the same thing.

Yet surveys claim both to be the same.

January 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTS

TS:

The minute she says no, you should stop. If it isn't yes, yes, yes, yes. You stop. To protect her and to protect yourself.

January 6, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Yes, it is the people you hang around with. Abuse of women is less common among men who are more educated, hold more egalitarian views about gender, etc.--the kind of men who don't think it threatens their masculinity to be friends with someone whose Internet avatar shows him holding a baby. That certainly doesn't mean that NONE of these men abuse women, but it is less common AND they are far less likely to brag about it, especially to you.

Even among populations where sexually assaulting women is more common, most men will not admit to it when talking to someone they think would disapprove or believe that they did it because they could not get sex consensually. I work for a research study on young men. The number of our participants who have been convicted of sexual assaults (according to court records) is about 20 times the number who have ever admitted to sexual assault on our questionnaires--and that is the only type of crime that is significantly under-reported; they mostly admit to everything else, including homicide, because the interviews are confidential. But even when they are in prison for rape and they know we know why they are there, they will say no to the questions, "Have you physically hurt or threatened someone to get them to have sex with you?" and "Have you forced someone to have sex against their will?" (The use of "them" and "their" in these questions bugs me gramatically, but we decided that "her" would prevent reporting of any assaults on males and "him or her" would trigger an "I'm not gay!" response in assaulters of women. Many Americans do understand "them" to mean one person of either gender, whether I like it or not!)

Nobody is claiming that ALL men are abusers. In fact, this post is about how to raise your son to be one of the men who are NOT abusers and will not tolerate other people abusing people.

January 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter'Becca

Are you taking issue with the word sociopath, certainly people in these positions may act like sociopaths.

I find your comment about a team full of sociopaths would not be very good at football interesting. Yet, in my observation, we give kids in high profile sports a special sense of privilege that lets them think they don't have to play by the rules that everyone else does. Do well on the field, you can do what you want the rest of the time. I've been interested by this part of society ever since I was in college and there were rapes by athletes that were underinvestigated and underprosecuted. People openly voiced that if they were good athletes, nothing else matters.

If we are going to tie this into football, it is time to change the culture of sports where people look the other way, and also it is time to stop treating these kids like they are some sort of demi-gods.

January 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKate

Random thoughts:
- Yes, the video was extremely disturbing and even more so because the poor girl was right in the next room. When one of the boys got up to check and see if the girl was in fact "dead" as the kid laughing in the video kept saying, he was mocked for caring. I simply cannot believe these are "normal teenage boys." I truly believe that any "normal" person knows it is wrong to drug, rape, and abuse another person. (I don't even see how the "no means no" discussion applies here because they drugged her and she was completely unconscious and unable to speak.)
- I think that the reason explicit consent isn't shown in movies and pop culture is because that's not how most people behave in real life. Are you advocating that movies include this kind of "explicit consent" pre-sex talk so that people will then start doing so in real life?

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCoffee with Julie

If people don't act like that in real life, then I think they need to start doing so. I think (hope) there is a difference between what was normal 20 years ago and what is normal now, but I can't be 100% sure of that. Read through the "what is consent" and "what is not consent" on this page: http://www.consentissexy.net/consent. If more people, both men and women, boys and girls, real life and pop culture, took that seriously, then we could go a long way in reducing rape culture and reducing date rape.

January 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

[...] it to this post titled “Will Your Son Be A Rapist?” There’s lots of interesting links on there, and a [...]

January 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCan I Tickle You? « Quee

Wow. An incredible post and the comments are just fantastic. Alot to think about.

There's something about this comment that rubs me the wrong way. On the one hand, it's really important for us to teach our kids not to be coercive, to not push for more than the other person is willing to give, and to look out for situations in which their partner might have hesitations or insecurities, and work through those together.

On the other hand, I feel like this feeds into the myth that girls are the gatekeepers and that boys will always want to go further. It is not up to the boy to be the gentleman and protect his partner by telling her "oh you don't REALLY want that, you're just looking for approval;" it's up to both partners to build a safe space where they can communicate and explore together.

January 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterM Dubz

@Coffee with Julie - Explicit consent should be a normal and regular part of any sexual relationship. My husband and I began our relationship with a very open discussion about what we did or did not want to do, and we have the discussion periodically to see if our preferences or limits have changed. For the first couple of months we asked permission before engaging in any sexual act, and it didn't harm our feelings of intimacy one bit.

If someone is unwilling to have an open and honest talk about sex with their partner, then that person is not likely to be a respectful partner. That is what I'll be teaching my children, and I wish that more people did the same.

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGlamGori

I have a deep concern that I have to share, since I have no one in my life I can trust with this. I have a twin sister with a 17 year old transgender son. I am the proud parent of his nine-year cousin who is a boy. I had bought for my nephew's 16th birthday a cellphone and computer with strict rules. The phone was for safety and the computer for educational purposes mainly, but also fun. The phone was a smartphone. A few months ago, my sister informed me that "Sam" had been using his laptop to access pornography- far from vanilla porn, this was violent, misogynistic and sadistic pornography. His mother wouldn't look at the content, like I suggested to be informed for an inevitable conversation. She had the conversation and it "didn't go well". Her son became defensive and refused to talk about it. That was how she left the situation. After a few months, I became deeply concerned that she was setting him up for an addiction, since she provided no discipline or consequences for his actions. She did not even remove his computer privileges for a day let alone removing his access to it altogether. While it is not for me to judge her, I felt that it was clearly my responsibility to do something. I love "Sam" as if he were my own son. It is worth mentioning that he went to to music festivals last summer and although conditions were made to keep in touch and keep his mother informed as to his whereabouts and well- being, he did not do so. My response was to remove the phone and computer which I am still paying for, so all data uploaded, downloaded or viewed is in my name (!) from his possession. I felt like an accomplice to it. I didn't want to pay for it and see a strong interest turn into a dangerous addiction. My sister's response was to tell me that I must be sick. I have major depression but I am not in relapse. She told our mother that I was sick and took the computer and phone so I had to explain to my 74 year old mother what had occurred. Needless, to say, she did not disagree. However, 17 year old "Sam" told me that I was out of line, and his mother upholds this line of thinking. I tried to explain as best I could to my nephew that I was doing this out of love and concern. He rejected this attempt and his mother seems only to be concerned that the phone and computer I was paying for is gone, not about the ramifications of her denial and refusal to deal with the situation herself. You may wonder why I didn't talk to her mother personally. Well, I tried to call and she hung up on me and when I tried to explain in an email, she did not respond. I would really appreciate some advice from anyone whether you agree with my actions or not. I'm hurt and confused by her response to this. I feel like I was responsible and did the best thing I could do to address the situation, but was I really out of line to remove these items from his possession, After all, it was a gift, however, if my own son were to do the same thing, my response would be identical- gift or no gift. The computer was returned to me riddled with viruses that only come from visiting restricted pornography websites. I am in information technology and the computer needs to be completely overhauled, Windows fails to start, I can't access the desktop of "Sam's" computer remotely even. This after less than two years of use with a super nice little laptop. The phone was returned without the charger- it was "lost" or "broken"...they don't seem to know which, meaning I can't even recoup any of the financial loss...$1500 plus whatever it takes me to repair the phone and computer. Please, I really need advice. Just lay it on me! Thank you in advance to anyone who takes the time to read this and or respond.
Sincerely,
P.

January 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPattie

Have you spoken clearly with your nephew about your concerns? Many trans* children go through varying levels of depression and self-hatred, and the pornography that you see as violent may be your nephew's way of "hurting" his old body (or current body, depending on his state of transition). I should also mention that there's always a chance that your nephew is interested in non-vanilla sex acts, and there's nothing inherently wrong with that.

All teenagers look at porn, and you'd be surprised how many of them view sex acts that aren't "vanilla". My main suggestion is to have a private conversation with your nephew, explaining your concerns and giving him a chance to give his side of the story. Just be sure that you're really ready to listen to what he has to say. At the very least, your nephew has to learn how to surf the internet without downloading so many viruses.

January 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGlamGori

I offered to talk to him privately...however, I will not be permitted to by his mother. I understand and care deeply about the psychological ramifications of his transition and his feelings toward his old body or current body. I am also aware and non-judging of the fact that he may be interested in non-vanilla sex acts. My main concern is that he is underage and going through a sensitive and difficult time of his life. I am extremely proud of how he has handled this transition. However, pornography can be addictive, and to someone who is not an adult yet, may influence his sex-life negatively. I want him to learn how to love a body- his own and the person he is with. I don't think porn will teach him this. And as I have limited contact now that his mother is angry at me, I will not be permitted to contact him personally or visit with him or talk to him about this without my sister's permission which probably won't be forthcoming. The removal of the computer and phone were my way of not precipitating a possible habit into an addiction at a vulnerable time in his life. He is not old enough to visit these websites. I believe those choices are to be made as an adult, and I find his mother negligent. Thank you for your response. I truly appreciate your input and yes, I suggested that a good anti-virus utility would be a good idea.

January 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPattie

I am not afraid to look at anything he is willing to show me and I am not afraid to talk to him about anything. I have tried my whole life, before the issue of transgender was just a twinkle in his eye, to be a person in his life that he can trust. I'm not permitted to. A long time ago, when I asked his mother to take him to a doctor over what I suspected to be and later determined to be asthma (he was 9) , and one time when I told her not to slap him (he would have been 6 or 7 then)- I was told to butt out and stay out.

January 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPattie

The most disturbing thing is that unfortunately I am aware that his mother preyed on underage boys until even after the birth of her son. I'm sorry, but I feel I am out of my league here. She suffered severe post-partum depression and prayed that god would abort her still unborn child. When "Sam" was born, he was the most terrified infant I had ever cared for. I had had lots of practice as a young girl with babies, and he would scream in terror every night. The only thing I could do was hold him until he screamed it out, and then his body would relax, and he would go to sleep out of pure exhaustion. I appreciate the intellectual response, but I would appreciate something more heartfelt or even spiritual.

January 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPattie

His mother's past with underage boys definitely makes things problematic, and I cannot help but wonder how her son is doing in that environment. Personally, I think that the pornography is the least of your concerns at this time, as virtually every teenager watches porn at some point in time and very few of them become addicted. It would be best if you were able to have a discussion about things with your nephew, but until your sister comes around that option is close to impossible.
I apologize for giving a response that comes off as being emotionally detached, as I do genuinely care for the emotional turmoil that your nephew is going through. Children at school can often be cruel, and he is probably constantly worried about being "found out", though this depends on his level of transition. Teen years are often difficult enough without having to defend your identity as strongly as trans* youth often do, and as most trans* youth find solace in online communities, I cannot help but wonder how disconnected he must feel from his friends and peers. It doesn't sound like he has the most supportive of home environments, having a mother who seems so against outside advice, and I wonder how his emotional needs are met in that kind of household.
I have a feeling that this is not the kind of emotional response that you were looking for, but it is the only kind that I can provide at this time.

January 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGlamGori

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