Remember that intimate conversation you had with your son? The one where you said, “I love you and I need you to know that no matter how a woman dresses or acts, it is not an invitation to cat call, taunt, harass or assault her”?
Or when you told your son, “A woman’s virginity isn’t a prize and sleeping with a woman doesn’t earn you a point”?
How about the heart-to-heart where you lovingly conferred the legal knowledge that “a woman doesn’t have to be fighting you and you don’t have to be pinning her down for it to be RAPE. Intoxication means she can’t legally consent, NOT that she’s an easy score.”
Or maybe you recall sharing my personal favorite, “Your sexual experiences don’t dictate your worth just like a woman’s sexual experiences don’t dictate hers.”
Last but not least, do you remember calling your son out when you discovered he was using the word “slut” liberally? Or when you overheard him talking about some girl from school as if she were more of a conquest than a person?
I want you to consider these conversations and then ask yourself why you don’t remember them. The likely reason is because you didn’t have them. In fact, most parents haven’t had them.
What’s scary is that you KNOW the majority of young men receive the OPPOSITE kinds of messages both from their parents and the culture around them. And then people are surprised or defensive when a so-called “good” guy takes advantage of a women. And excuses are made to make her at fault, rather than blaming the perpetrator and all those who taught him for his entire life that what he did wasn’t really wrong. Rape culture is a cycle, and education like that shown above is what can help break it down.
A girl in my Sociology class turns around during a class activity on goals to start a conversation with me. Her opening line is: ‘I want to get married.’ I nod and smile. She does not ask me my goals, just continues telling me the sort of guy she’d like to be with and how many kids she’d like. Thoughtfully, she adds, ‘My mom told me to meet someone and marry them. You don’t wanna date around because you wanna be fresh for the guy and not a….you know what.’
My cousin’s Facebook ‘About Me’ lists things she would like in a man. There is nothing about her or the things she does, only qualities she finds attractive. ‘Looking for someone who can play the guitar and cook a great dinner,’ she wrote. I can hear her bubbly, singsong voice while reading it. She is thirteen years old and has told me that girls ‘oughta only kiss their husbands and that’s it.’ When I ask her what she wants to be when she’s older she says, ‘Married.’
My male friend tells me that he has no problem with what girls do, but that he would not date a girl who’s ‘been around’ because she’d be ‘dirty.’ I wonder if each time someone touches you, a part of you is soiled. If there are piles of dirt in the spaces where others’ fingers once rested. In the shower, I try to scrub the smell of dirt from myself, but come out, still polluted, with red scratch marks all over me.
Being called a ‘you know what’ taught me some things: that I do not want to be touched by somebody who will judge my past. That I am not a tally book, with others’ names burned into me. If you have to label me as something, let it be a human being.
”—A “You Know What” | Lora Mathis A middle finger to slut shaming. (via lora-mathis)
Two other women, also breast cancer survivors, said their husbands left them after they were diagnosed. Both had to have mastectomies (in case anyone doesn’t know, this is the surgical operation to remove one or both breasts).
The first woman said her husband told her that he would rather see her dead than see her lose her breasts. The second woman had her operation and waited all day to be picked up by her husband, who never arrived. By nightfall, one of the nurses offered to give her a ride, and she came home to find the house empty.
Obviously, these are extreme cases of a man’s reaction to his wife’s breast cancer, but this is what I see when I see the “I ♥ Boobies” bracelets. I see love of the body parts, not the person being treated—not the patient, not the victim, not the survivor.