I refuse to raise Brock Turner.
I'm a rape victim twice over. And as the media turns once again to rape, as Brock Turner is sentenced to only six months for brutally raping a graduate student, I'm once again reminded of my responsibility.
I have three sons. I do not want one of those three to grow up and rape. They've got the equipment — I should know; I changed their diapers. The could have the will to use it in ways that aren't consensual. Ways that aren't OK. Ways that count as rape.
I stand between them and the world of women, these sons of mine, and I must rise to the task: I am their mother. I must teach them not to rape.
1. Teach them to respect women.
No blonde jokes. No jokes about how women can't parallel park, or do anything else for that matter. We talked about Hillary Clinton and the historical event of her nomination. We learn about Susan B. Anthony, and scorn a world where woman couldn't vote. We scorn Saudi Arabia, where women aren't allowed to drive.
I teach them to hold doors, not because women are weaker, but because they are worthy of respect. As they get older, we'll discuss domestic violence, and the weakness of a man who'd hit a woman (and vice-versa). I teach my sons to see women as equal to men.
2. Teach them consent.
No one has the right to touch my sons unless they are told they may do so. Relatives must ask before giving them a kiss or a hug, and if they say no... well, Aunt Sue isn't getting a hug. And she isn't allowed to guilt him or act as if he's behaved badly. His body, his choice. This helps ward off child sexual abuse.
3. Teach them about their private parts.
We tell them that no one has the right to touch their private areas, unless they are washing them, they are hurt, or the doctor needs to examine them. In those cases, only mom or dad or the doctor has the right to touch, and they must inform them that "I'm going to have to touch your penis real quick" before they do so. This helps keep them from being victims of child sexual abuse, which is a risk factor for abusing others (i.e. rape).
4. Teach them about alcohol.
Right now, we talk about how wine is a mommy and daddy drink. We drink it openly; we drink it without fanfare. We do not get drunk in front of them and do not allow others to be so. As they get older, we'll talk more about alcohol: how it lowers inhibitions, how it can make you act stupid. How you can black out and not know what you're doing or what happened.
We'll make sure they know they can drink in moderation. Unfortunately, it's illegal for them to drink before 21, which would be the best way for them to see that drinking alcohol is no big deal, and can be done without binge-drinking.
5. Teach them about bodies.
We're pretty much nudists around my house. I get my makeup on without wearing a top. The baby runs around without pants on. They see bare chests, and even bare genitals, on a regular basis. These are no mystery to them. They know they are not allowed to touch or accidentally rub against these places.
6. Point out rape culture.
We don't allow our sons to listen to pop music about "blurred lines," or music that's overly sexualized. Because usually, if it's oversexualized, it's about getting with some girl — and the girl is never given a voice. As they get older, we'll point out more examples of rape culture, such as cases in the news, comments about women, "she had it coming to her," comments about dress, and so on.
7. Talk about how mama doesn't feel as safe at night as daddy.
They know that we can't go to the local trails without one of our big dogs because mama's scared of who she might encounter there. They know that as long as daddy's along, we can leave the dog at home. We've talked a little bit about safety at night, and as they get older, we'll talk about it more.
As a mother, one of my main duties to my sex is to raise boys that will not rape. Period. I need to raise the kind of boys, like the grad students on bicycles, who will intervene in a rape and prevent it from going any further.
Those are the kind of kids we need: not more date rapists, but more men who will stop date rape when they see it. Who will escort drunk girls home. Who will see them safely to their beds without jumping in with them. That's the kind of man we need. That's the kind of man I hope to raise.