I read a great blog post a few nights ago, thanks to a friend sharing the link on facebook (and yes, Kit, AMEN). In this post, a mom laments the fact that we still have to teach our girls how to avoid being raped. And she promises to raise boys who won't rape girls. I loved every word of this post, and found myself nodding in agreement.
When I was done reading, and had given her words some time to sink in, the reality of this world hit me: we, as enlightened moms and dads, can promise to raise good boys into men for the rest of our days. We can pinky swear and take oaths and write moving blog posts about it.
But we will always, ALWAYS and forever have to keep teaching our girls how to avoid being raped.
Because that's the world we live in. It's the world our children, our daughters and our sons, live in.
For every one of us enlightened parents sitting at the dinner table espousing good choices and compassion and love, there is another parent, at another dinner table, talking about sluts and drunken whores and girls who ask for it.
These are the people who say "Boys will be boys" and "She shouldn't have worn that outfit". They are the same people who are so sad about the blemished records these fellas are going to have from now on. The people who are lamenting the fact that these swell kids made "one stupid mistake" and now it's going to haunt them for the rest of their lives. These same people are the ones who put the blame on the victim, stating that SHE put herself in harm's way when SHE decided to get shitfaced that night.
Yes. All involved that night made bad choices. The difference is, some of those choices were felonies.
When I read the details about this case I cannot help but see my kids and their friends. My daughter is 17, I have a son who is almost 16. I have lulled myself into a nice safe cocoon of complacency thanks to the fact that both of these kids are "good". Neither one has ever given me a reason to doubt them or to question their behavior. They both disdain drinking and drugs, they both hang out with peers who keep their noses clean and study hard and have plans for the future.
But I need to wake up. I need to shake off this false sense of security. Because this could have been my kids.
I didn't realize this until yesterday. In fact, I had already decided to abort this post, thinking that I had nothing relevant to add to the conversation. Others have very eloquently said the things I wanted to say, made the points I wanted to make.
Besides, my kids don't live in a sleepy rural football town. They go to school in an affluent Minneapolis suburb with children who have been raised to respect all people, kids from good homes, homes with money and morals and high standards, right?
Through the parental grapevine, which is light-years behind the grapvine of our children, I have heard things that scare me. Things that shock me and sadden me and make me want to pull my kids out of school and move them to a tiny cabin in the woods where Pa will play fiddle for them while I make cornhusk dolls and sew their clothes.
It's not just the school district that my kids attend. It's the parochial schools, the pricey elite private ones, the public schools a couple cities away that are less-affluent than ours.
It's ALL of them. It's any building that houses large groups of teenagers who are armed with hormones, and cellphones with data plans.
I've heard stories of popular boys being cruel to less-popular girls. Stories of vandalism and stories of Twitter accounts that exist only to trash other kids. Stories of parties where kids bring mom's Xanax and dad's Jameson. Stories of kids who have too much. Too much technology and not nearly enough common sense.
That's how I know that despite my good intentions as a parent, what happened to those kids in Ohio could easily happen to my kids. And I'm speaking about ALL of the kids in Ohio, the victim, the rapists, the ones who stood by or retweeted the pictures or shared the YouTube links.
Because of this, I know that besides raising my boys to be good men, I have to raise my daughter to be a cautious woman. I have to teach her how to avoid being raped. I wish it wasn't so, but it is.
Through everything I've read about the Steubenville case, one single statement stays stuck in my mind. I keep thinking it, over and over, like a skipping record.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said this about it:
"I'm afraid people are going to walk away and say this was all about Steubenville," DeWine said. "It's not. It's a cultural problem."
"I'll guarantee that there are crimes very similar to this that occur every Friday night and every Saturday night in communities across this country where you have people, particularly young people, who are drinking too much and a girl is taken advantage of, and a girl is raped," he said.
Such incidents stem from a larger social problem -- a rampant lack of respect and human decency, he said.
"One of the lessons of life is we have to take care of each other, and we have to try to help people and we have to do what's right." DeWine said. "And there were precious few people that night that were doing what was right."
This happens every Friday night.
And that, my friends, is why we have to keep teaching our daughters not to get raped.