Girls and the Sexiness of Anti-Intelligence in Our Society

When I was in 5th grade I vividly recall being absent one day and having to make up a test the day I came back. I was sitting at my desk, trying to melt into the ground and walls so I could potentially make it one hour without being bullied by a group of girls who tortured me that year…when my teacher yelled across the room smiling, “You got a 99 on your test!” Everyone stopped and stared at me. By this point in the school year my classmates knew I was smart. They knew I knew the answers before they did, and they knew I got A’s on almost everything. Because kids just figure that shit out even when you try to hide it.

I tried to sink lower in my chair if that was even possible and shrugged my shoulders up and down in as little acknowledgement as humanly possible to this A announcement. My teacher then said, “A shrug? That’s it! You get an A and you’re not even happy?” She was very loud and happy and warm, and completely unaware of the torture I received on the regular right under her nose. I put my head down on my desk. I knew this would not go unpunished.

Later that day I was surrounded by the group of girls at lunch and was told that I was arrogant and that I had a big head and getting good grades didn’t make me better than them, and I was ugly, and I had to wear glasses…and whatever else all the shit mean little girls say to other little girls. Now these girls were not dumb. They didn’t graduate in the top ten of our high school class, but they were definitely not dumb. If they applied themselves who knows maybe they could have been in the top ten of our class. (By the way…our number 1 and number 2 in my graduating class were female. I was somewhere in there, 6th or 7th I think.)

But early on it was clear. Intelligence is not sexy. In fact it is a weakness. For a female to show intelligence is to put everyone else down. For a female to be intelligent and not just quietly sit in the corner and do her work and quietly get good grades…well that’s just disrespectful to the males who are not as smart and to the females who want to be seen as sexy for their looks not their brains.

The years of 5th grade to 8th grade for kids in general are torture. For smart girls? Freaking horrendous. I regularly see kids in my practice in middle school who hate themselves because they can’t kick a soccer ball. But they get A’s on tests or they are amazing artists or writers or gymnasts or dancers or any number of non-school based athletic activities that can’t possible define a popular and successful girl. Eventually I was able to scrape by with the popular crowd because I could kick and catch (goalie) a soccer ball and I could throw a basket-ball with fairly decent aim. I didn’t mind getting dirty and I loved diving in the mud to save a goal when it was pouring rain.

But I knew I wasn’t going to make a name for myself as a pro-athlete. In fact NONE of the people I went to high school became pro-athletes. A fact I regularly remind girls of who cry and want to kill themselves because getting straight A’s and being beautiful is not good enough to be popular.

It’s not just kids though. It’s adults too. An intelligent well spoken woman is “intimidating, bitchy, arrogant, just needs to get laid…” etc. I’ve received the message loud and clear that my boobs and my brains just don’t go together. I’ve reached an age and a level of self acceptance where I just don’t give a shit anymore about society’s expectations.

I want to be the role model for the girl getting bullied for being smart. I want to tell her “Look at me!” I graduated with a 3.8 from nursing school, I got a job in a very competitive department at a hospital where only about 15% of applicants get hired. I received my master’s degree from an Ivy league school, and I then worked for that ivy league University. Now I am a successful business owner who continues to dream big and make moves with a female business partner and a female wife and all the people threatened by our success…well I’m not sitting in the corner sinking into my desk anymore.

I am proud of my accomplishments as I should be. I am ecstatic I have the brain I do and honestly I’m not sad about my boobs either. I think intelligence is sexy as does my wife obviously (I mean she doesn’t complain about the boobs either).

What is the first thing we say to girls “Oh you are so beautiful” “Look at your hair it’s gorgeous!” We never compliment girls on their brains or their bravery or anything else beyond their looks. It starts as babies! Think about the last time you complimented a female baby and a male baby. What were your adjectives?

Think about how you compliment girls. Think about the presents you buy them. Do you buy them glitter and sequins? Or legos? Or barbies? Things they can build or things they can dress? It’s not wrong, I’m not trying to shame anyone, I’m just making a point that our society values women who are beautiful and silent. Strong, intelligent, opinionated, with boobs? Well that generally means you’re a bitch.

Think about the messages you send your daughters and nieces and granddaughters. Send them the same messages you send your sons and nephews and grandsons. Send them the message that intelligence is a gift to be nurtured and valued. That intelligence and courage and speaking out is beautiful.

I mean maybe if more women had received this message then 51% of female voters may not have voted for #45. Just saying.

 

What People Should NEVER Say to a Mom of Twins.

I generally say whatever comes into my head. No filters. Except…with other parents. If I am with other parents and especially if all our kids are together or even if the kids are not there…I keep my big mouth shut tight. Because I’ve learned as a Mom to just shut the F up. Nobody wants to hear my parenting opinion about their kid. Because I really shouldn’t have one until I’ve walked in their shoes. Just as I really don’t want to hear anyone else’s opinions about my kids and my parenting. Especially people who only have one kid at a time. No offense singleton parenting but literally say nothing to twin parents. Because you don’t know.

Things people have said to me have made me want to cry, laugh maniacally, and/or commit actual physical violence. I’m not a violent person but literally I’ve had visions of slamming my knee into someone’s stomach or my fist in their face. I think/hope it’s the sleep deprivation.

“I always wanted twins.” “Twins would have been so much easier.” “One and done!”

I hear these all the time. To the mom who says “I always wanted twins.” I smile. Then in my head I’m like you fucking idiot. You wanted a high risk pregnancy that most likely would result in a C-section? You wanted two premature babies who are allergic to formula so you have to breastfeed them BOTH for a YEAR?! You wanted to stretch your body so much that no amount of greens and hot yoga will get rid of that pouch? Really? You wanted to live in the USA where my wife went back to work after four weeks and left me home alone with two premature and underweight newborns who laid on my chest/boobs/belly for the next fourteen weeks? Nothing about twins is easy. Ever. In fact they can lead to mom’s feeling resentful because we feel like we missed out. We missed out on one kid at a time. On maybe actually ever enjoying breastfeeding instead of despising it because I literally did it 24/7. No sleep. For a year.

One and done?! It wasn’t one. It was freaking two. And we will NEVER be done. Don’t say it. That’s one that leads me to violent thoughts. Like can you count? I mean I understand one pregnancy but it’s pregnancy on steroids because there are two fetuses. It’s kind of a big scary deal.

“You should separate them in kindergarten.”

This one gets me too. First off don’t ever start a parenting opinion with ‘should’. It’s rude. Second, why? I’ve heard all the opinions about it. Here’s mine. I’m their Mom. I know them best. I know that they have literally not been apart for more than two hours since they were born. That when they are apart they fret and worry over each other. “Jacky k? My Jacky okay?” Over and over from Declan. “Decky k? Decky come home? Decky k?” from Jackson. When they are together they shine. I mean they fight and stuff, it’s not all cupcakes and rainbows. But they are securely attached to one another. And why is that a bad thing? In a society where we are continuously disconnected from one another I will do anything to foster their love and their bond. I would never put them in a brand new school with brand new classmates and teachers and separate them. Maybe in their 1st or 2nd grade when they are used to the school. But in kindergarten they will be 5. Why is it bad for them to want to be with one another?

Shit’s about to get deep. Gear up. The other truly dark and terrifying reason I want them together is because we live in the state where an entire kindergarten class was shot to death. That is always in the back of my head. Because it’s very real to everyone who lives in this state. God forbid any type of danger reaches my sons at the age of 5. I want them together. I want them to have each other to love and protect if they ever have to live through that terror.

So when some one who doesn’t have twins starts to say seemingly innocent crap about having twins and making judgments about decisions that I have already made in my heart because of my own life experience and my own reasons…yeah it irritates me. Which is why I keep to the Shut My Mouth rule when I’m with other parents. Which is what I advise every one of you to do as well.

I don’t tell everyone who makes these remarks everything that’s in my head and heart. I generally just nod and smile. Because when some one discusses kindergarten who wants to think about a devastating school shooting? When some one discusses a two for one deal they don’t actually want to know how incredibly trying that pregnancy was or the delivery or the aftermath. They just want to look at my cute boys and imagine life is wonderful. Well generally it is. I don’t regret my twins, and I love them beyond reason. But don’t tell me it’s easy because it’s not. Don’t tell me to separate them because I won’t. And never act like you know more about my kids then I do. Unless you’re my wife. In which case you may be entitled to that opinion.

Also never ask when they started sleeping through the night. You don’t want to know. For real.

The one question I do tolerate is people asking if they have their own language. They do- it’s morphing more into normal English now, but from the start of their verbalizations it’s been totally coherent to the two of them. My wife and I can pretty much translate it now and often they translate for each other if Mommy or I take too long figuring out what one of them is saying.

They are obsessed with each other and hearing Declan call “My Jackie, come my Jackie” across the house, and then seeing my Jackson run to wherever Declan is calling him from then hearing the conversation they have…well that’s just about the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard.

This morning one of them was showing me his boo-boo on his hand. The other one came over and kissed his brother’s hand. Melt me. These are the moment’s that help me understand why someone would yearn for twins. It’s that whole no sleeping for a year thing that I still clearly am not over that makes me question people’s sanity for wanting twins.

A Dyke’s Best Friend.

Seeing how I’m visiting her and she never reads my blog I thought it would be appropriate to write a post about her. I’d say I have a core group of maybe four or five close/best friends. My bestie from age 14 going forward is one of those five. We didn’t like each other in high school. Sort of. It was love/hate. We had a LOT of fun. Neither of us can drink or even smell Captain Morgan spiced rum anymore because we drank way too much of it in high school. Yes underage drinking is bad. I don’t condone it but I definitely did it.

She is probably the opposite of me in most every way which is funny because we are both Aquarius. Where she is the life of the party and makes friends as if it were nothing, I am usually in the corner by myself and like I said, carry a few trusted core people of close friends. We have some underlying traits in common though. We both love to laugh and have fun. We have A LOT of fun when we are together. Her wife and my wife tend to worry a bit when we make plans together because we either go all out or pass out watching Netflix by 9 pm. My wife says, “You seem to lose all track of your judgment when you are with her.” I say, “We’ve never been arrested and you gotta admit we have some great times.” My wife mutters, “I mean you probably could have been arrested you just weren’t…”

There is much I admire about my friend and I think she inspires me to be more adventurous and more motivated. She’s always very proud of me and shows me how to be a better person in so many ways. She also has seen me through the last twenty years of my life. She was my friend for my first hetero-romance in high school, and the one that gave me tequila and told me to “just do it” when I was debating dating my wife. She watched me morph into a lesbian-ish and helped me figure it all out along the way.

So it totally pisses me off when she’s discriminated against. She’s worked in industries that are male dominated- white heterosexual male dominated. She has to work twice as hard to get ahead in her field. She always has to prove herself.

She recently relocated down South for a job. Which is wonderful because now I have a place to go to by a beautiful beach that we visited today. But I am always scared for her because she’s such a dyke. In the South. She told me she was at the beach and a guy came up and put his finger in her face pointing, and yelling about “you people” and “the gay’s” and she was literally just sitting in a chair on the beach. What. The. Fuck. She has to be careful where she goes and who she goes with.

The admirable part to her is that she stays here anyway and it doesn’t do a thing to lower her mood or energy. I always find discrimination insulting. But it seems to be doubly insulting when the discrimination targets some one who is actually someone I think of as one of the greatest human beings in the world. I know it’s weird to think about but it does seem worse when discrimination and hatred targets someone who is the opposite in every way of hateful. It’s like people discriminating against my wife. They are literally two of the nicest and kindest people I know. Discriminate against me, I’m kind of a bitch, I can take it, stay away from the nice people!

I tend to have a calculating/thoughtful expression (I just don’t like the term resting bitch face, but perhaps that could be accurate here). My friend- never. She is literally always smiling. She has this bubbly energy that just draws everyone in. Whenever we go out she talks to EVERYONE. She is so friendly. So to know she of all people, has to worry about being blindly discriminated against on a daily basis just because she lives in the South; well that pisses me off.

The other thing is she doesn’t talk about it. She doesn’t complain about it. She just accepts this is how the world is and she’s still going to walk in it the same way. She hasn’t become jaded or resentful or cynical. She remains hopeful. Hopeful for change.

So while she’s always going to be a dog person and I will always be a cat person. And she will always hate my cats and I will always despise her dogs…we have this lesbian thing in common and we both know discrimination and she teaches me on the regular to never give up hope and to never stop being kind to people just because they may discriminate against us.

When we were 14 and this bubbly annoying blonde skipped up behind me in line at a basket-ball camp and started blabbing my ear off I would never have guessed that twenty years later she would be the person I’d sit on a beach with reminiscing about why we can’t drink Captain Morgan and how we are hopeful that in another twenty years we won’t have to worry about discrimination anywhere in our country.

Like her freaking dog is literally jumping on me as I type and I’m screaming at him to get away and screaming at my friend who is calling the dog who doesn’t listen to her…that’s how we roll.

 

A Day in the Life of Outpatient Psychiatry…

I remember my first day at my outpatient office I saw five clients. All five of those clients still see me over four years later. They’ve all followed me to a new practice and new office because, I don’t know, I’ve never asked, but I guess they don’t want to see some one new.

There have been clients that have come and gone since I started. Some I helped. Some moved on before I could see any improvement. I’m certainly not for everyone. I have a certain style and way of being that is off putting to some people. Which is fine. I’ve certainly had healthcare providers I didn’t care for. I don’t take it personally.

But working in mental health makes you really examine myself on the regular. I am regularly questioned by parents and clients as to my clinical decision making more intensely and I think more rudely than other specialties. I hear on a daily basis, “I read online…” because a google search and gander into webMD and patientslikeme.com suddenly makes people experts.

It’s not my job to convince people they need medication. It’s my job to make my clinical recommendation. Take it or leave it.

But the nuts and bolts, the in’s and out’s, a few hours in my life in my little office looks something like this.

Starting my day with a call from the local hospital that one of my patient’s is being hospitalized for suicidal ideation or a suicide attempt. Rare thankfully, but at least a few times a year. I could pull into the office on the phone with the hospital and start my day already worried about a client I now have no control over.

My first client could need me to write a letter for gender reassignment surgery. Processing what this means to them, permanent changes to their body, possibly losing their family and friends, exploring their grief, their dysphoria, and their resolve to proceed.

Next up could be giving someone an injection of Vivitrol (long acting Naltrexone, monthly shot, to battle alcohol or opiate addiction). My Vivitrol clients are not “hoodlums” or “druggies”. They are Moms, Dads, kids, and functioning members of our society. They make a monthly commitment to come and have a very large needly placed in their butt with a large volume of medication to help them stay sober. They impress me with their strength to come every month and their commitment to sobriety. They are perhaps some of my favorite clients to treat because I am truly helping them regain their lives. Their courage gives me hope.

In the next thirty minutes I may see one of my clients who suffers from chronic homicidal ideation. No specified target. Rather disturbing imagery usually. And hopefully responding to therapy and medication…

My next might be a family with a depressed teenager who was raped. I’ve heard the rape story and I’ve helped them through the process of pressing charges and they come in now and are totally at ease in my office because it’s like I’ve been brought into their family circle for the 30 minutes they come and see me every month.

In between these clients I am returning calls, emails, and doing prescription refills.

Then perhaps a teen struggling with their gender identity who has been told by their parents they will be kicked out if they pursue this “gender thing”. It’s been rare that these parents have actually followed through among my patients. But it still sucks. My wife knows that I would bring these kids home if I needed to. That none of my transgender teens will end up on the street. I’ve said that to probably two teenagers who I thought might actually end up homeless. That they can call me any time. That we will figure it out together. I’ve seen this look of what I think is hope come into their eyes as they really see me and recognize that they are not alone. There’s all this stuff about boundaries in mental health. But having a wife who’s been homeless due to family intolerance. Well I just couldn’t stand to see that happen to one of my kids.

Then perhaps I see one of my anxious clients. They come in all shapes sizes and ages. They are also some of my favorites. I do a lot of hand-holding with them. A lot of answering questions and perhaps meeting for months before they agree to take medication. I do a lot of convincing that anxiety is actually a brain illness just like diabetes is a pancreas illness. Not one of my anxious clients has ever regretted starting anti-depressants to target anxiety. But it’s a journey for us to get there that is always quite challenging and fun for me.

Then perhaps I see a patient I’ve suspected has bipolar disorder who failed the second anti-depressant who I have to have the “you need a mood stabilizer” discussion and perhaps discuss “mood disorders” and “cycling” and gently start the dialogue of a potential major diagnosis.

Then maybe I see one of my clients into kink or BDSM and/or polyamory. We catch up on the latest relationships status. We talk about sex and their kinks and fetishes. I hear A LOT about sex. From all my clients. Because of the sexual side effects of medications and because of my client base. It’s something I’m very comfortable with now and not much can raise an eyebrow from me. I’ve perfected the poker face.

The mail comes. Medicaid is auditing me for a 12.00$ reimbursement for a client from five months ago. I shake my head and swear and rail at the insurance companies and remember this is why psychiatrists and psychiatric APRNs don’t take insurance or Medicaid. Because they are freaking ridiculous. 12.00$. You fucking kidding me? But I print out the requested papers and shove them in an envelope and send them to the address listed that very day because I know my Medicaid clients are vulnerable and I wouldn’t stop taking it just because medicaid sucks to work with. Yet.

For all of my clients I have to be present. I can’t be thinking about other clients and my patient hospitalized and my other patient I referred for ECT. I have to be there. I have to remember their stories from our last visit. It’s emotionally taxing to bear witness and support people who are suffering. It becomes my day to day though and until I step back and really think about it I don’t realize how intense one of my days can be. Let alone a week or a month.

What keeps me going? My clients. Their strength. Their bravery. Their capacity to face stigma of addiction and mental illness and psychiatric medication and diagnoses is inspiring. That they trust me with their emotions, their brains, their children, their parents, their friends. For the most part my clients and families are incredibly vulnerable and just looking for help and compassion. I’m not a warm and fuzzy person. But I get mental health. I get that I have to give of myself in order to make a difference. And I do. Daily. As does every other hard working mental health professional.

So when you’re at a picnic and someone tells you they work as a therapist or a psychiatrist don’t start telling them your problems or asking their opinion about your mother’s medication. Just thank them for the hard work they do and change the subject.

Because when we are not in the office we are tired from being in the office. So let us have our break. Let us sit and laugh and have fun and not think about the emotional intensity we see every day.

I have a sweet job. I love psychiatry. It’s challenging and exhausting and rewarding and heart-breaking and everything else that makes it exciting to go to work every day.

 

How to be Your Kid’s Hero.

I started writing a blog post about intelligence and women and I was super into it. Then my week started and I encountered humanity at it’s best and it’s worst as is generally the case in healthcare. And I got irritated because I couldn’t finish my post on intelligence and women because I was facing life and death situations that deserve some attention.

Do you know how many times I have Mom’s of toddlers sit in my office and cry because they are wracked with guilt that they don’t always 100% love being a Mom. They feel guilty for getting frustrated with their kids. I tell them fuck facebook. Toddlers suck. There are beautiful moments interspersed with longer moments of insanity. That every mom of toddlers feels this way.

How many times I’ve comforted Mom’s of teenagers as they lament the choices their kids are making or the pain their kids are going through and they feel helpless and useless and failures as Mom’s.

Then there are the those few and far between times…thank God….when I find myself comforting the kid. Because their parents told them to get out of their house because of their sexual orientation or their gender identity. Their parents told them their family’s reputation or their religion will not allow them to have a gay, Queer, or trans child.

Having a child who is different is the moment that separates the mom’s and dad’s and the Mom’s and the Dad’s.

That moment your child comes out to you is the moment you get to be the hero in their story. 

That moment will define your relationship for the rest of their life. Every LGBTQ identifying individual remembers their “coming out” story. I’ve heard them all. The heartbreaking stories that end in pain, tears, homelessness…well those stories just never get easier to hear or witness or pick up the pieces from.

As a Mom I can’t imagine looking my child in the eye and telling them to deny their true selves or get out of my house my life…my heart. I just couldn’t. It breaks me to even think of that.

It breaks me to see the heartbreak in those kids who don’t see their parents as their heroes but who yearn for that day still.

As a parent yes it’s scary to have a child who is different who will face adversity who may not be safe. But it’s not a choice. It’s who they are. And this is your chance, one of the few chances you will have in their life, to truly be heroic.

Mom’s and Dad’s question themselves about not spending enough time with their kids, about putting their toddlers in timeout too much, yelling to loudly, and all the other things that parents do on the regular that literally will not cause any harm (for the most part) to children.

But do you question what you would do if your child comes out to you? If your child wants to be a drag queen? If your child wants a new name, new body, new voice? Have you truly considered that? If you haven’t you should. Because your response to that can be the difference between life and death for your child.

If you cannot accept your child, even though I find it unfathomable, please know that you may have sentenced them to death. Through homelessness, murder, or suicide. The other side of discrimination and the taking back of what’s supposed to be unconditional love is dark, ugly, and the deepest pain you can possibly imagine that some just can’t recover from…the wound is just too deep, too scarring, too dark to come back from.

You may only get one chance to be their hero.

Don’t blow it.

 

 

“Gender Not Normal” Why Nanette Made Me Laugh and Cry.

I watched “Nanette” the comedy show by Hannah Gadsby. Freaking amazing.

“Do you understand what self deprecation means when it comes from somebody in the margins? It’s not humility it is humiliation. I put myself down in order to speak, in order to seek permission to speak, I simply will not do that anymore. Not to myself or to anyone who identifies with me.” Gadsby…Nanette

Her show is profound in so many ways. She brings light to so many dark issues in a beautiful voice that is funny and also brought me to tears. She allows herself to be vulnerable and puts tension onto the audience to look at the ugly side of discrimination and rape and leaves it on them. She dares them to own it.

She defines herself as “Gender not normal” which I love because she does not identify as transgender at all, but she presents as masculine and knows it and owns it  and doesn’t mind being misgendered. She also discloses she was physically assaulted at age 17 for being gender not normal. The lesbian population has many “gender not normal” lesbians. I live with one. My sister is another.

I did actually call my sister once, about six or seven years ago, and I asked her, “Are you trans?” I remember she laughed and was like, “No. I’m definitely a girl, and fine with it.” But she presents as more masculine and always has…well since about tenth grade, before that she did have long hair and wore feminine clothing.

Lesbians who wear make-up and are passable as straight are often more acceptable more palatable to society than “gender not normals”. Because they don’t fit the norms. As Hannah says they live in the margins. People see me with my sons and they smile because they are subconsciously categorizing me- white, straight, woman with her two toddler sons who are white little boys.

People in the grocery store today with my “gender not normal” wife and me and our sons…well we got side eyed, very few smiles, and I recognize that we were in a conservative town next to the conservative town we live in surrounded by white heterosexual cisgender individuals who are discriminatory jerks. The older gentleman at the checkout didn’t even look us in the eye.

My wife and I made a conscious decision to move to a Republican heavy town. We had a lot of reasons for moving there and even though I didn’t have language for it at the time I do now. I was fine moving to a ‘red’ town because if we make people tense, well they can just sit there with the tension. I’m not going to make them feel better about it. They have to look at us, they have to see us, they have to experience us as a family, as individuals, as human beings, so that maybe that will look beyond the label of lesbian and gender not normal and see that we are just people.

That we may never agree on politics but we could agree on perhaps the fact that we should be allowed to exist outside of the margins.

I’ve spoken with lesbians who live in Tennessee and Louisiana and Kentucky and they lose jobs because of their sexual identity and their gender not normal presentation. Their kids face horrible discrimination at school. I’ve asked people before, “But why do you stay?” They don’t always have a good answer. Because like I said, I think it’s hard to find the language for it. It’s hard to describe that you can’t leave because this is home. This is my rightful place in the world. I will not be put into the margins. We will be the light in the darkness we will make people sit with their tension we will make people see us. We won’t let them look away.

It’s hard to bring to words the gut feeling you get when you know that your community may not support your family but you can’t leave because it’s your home. You shouldn’t have to leave because it’s your home. So there are lesbians living in the hearts of Republican counties and towns because we have made a conscious choice to integrate ourselves and not separate ourselves as much as some would love for us to just go away.

Not everyone has the voice and the audience of a Hannah Gadsby or an Ellen. But it’s the lesbian family living and existing out loud and proud in the middle of Kentucky or Louisiana or a red little town tucked into the Northeast, it’s these families that are creating tension by being where society says they shouldn’t be. By forcing discriminatory individuals to make eye contact with me as I pay for my groceries. By living with tension in our bellies every day as we know we could be attacked verbally or physically by being outside the margins. But doing it anyway.

“Diversity is strength. Difference is a teacher. You fear difference and you learn nothing.” 

Gadsby…Nanette 2018.

 

 

Why I Will Talk to My Son’s About Sex and Consent

The number of girls and women who tell me stories of date rape never ceases to astound and horrify me.

I’ve been the first one they’ve told. The only one they’ve told. I’ve been the one they told at the start of a long and terrible process of pressing charges. I’ve had to be the one to then tell their parents.

I’ve been the one to tell a Mom and/or Dad that their daughter was raped.

Then I have to explain about date rape. That their daughter was intoxicated or under the influence of drugs and that’s why she didn’t tell anyone when it happened because she felt responsible. She felt she had consented because she may have been too drunk or unconscious so she couldn’t say No. Though she knows she wanted to say No and she knows she certainly didn’t say Yes.

The hardest part is often going back to school. She often has to face her rapist and her “friends” who stood by and sometimes literally watched it happen. She has to face the rumors of kids calling her slut and whore. She has to hope to God when her period is late that she’s not pregnant. She has to sometimes mourn the loss of her virginity to a non-consensual sexual experience that left her wounded in so many ways.

She often holds the blame/shame/guilt that is the rapists in and on herself.

She sometimes sheds her first tears when I tell her none of this was her fault. No matter how drunk or how drugged she was it was up to the perpetrator to not have sex with her when she could not consent.

I’ve had to reassure women and girls that when they went to the police and the police interviewing them asked them “Why didn’t you tell him to just stop?” “You are taller than him, why didn’t you stop him?” “It doesn’t sound like rape” that the policeman was wrong. That they were courageous and brave to go to the police and it was the police’s fault for being asshole’s.

The story is never quite the same. There’s always some different disturbing little detail that makes each time I hear it fucking awful.

The reason I decided to write a blog post about it is because of how incredibly common this is and how incredibly preventable it is. Teach boys and men not to have sexual contact with anyone who cannot consent. And by consent I mean be conscious, coherent, not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol, and verbally saying yes during a discussion about what is going to happen.

We teach kids algebra and we pound US History into their skulls. We teach them the Pledge of Allegiance and how to use Netflix and Amazon Prime and we teach them how to drive and how to do laundry. We guide them in opening bank accounts and applying to college. But we have neglected to teach our children about consent to sex and not to have sex with an individual who is semi-conscious and not able to fully and coherently consent.

Why are we comfortable letting them watch R rated movies with sex scenes but not discussing actually having sex?

What about the kids at the party who know the girl is drunk, who know the guy’s intentions, who sit back and do nothing? Why not teach our kids to stand up for someone…anyone who is not conscious?

The shame is not on the girl who drank too much. It is on the boy who ignored how drunk she was and had sex with her anyway. The shame is on the boy who had to take off her clothes because she was only semi-coherent and not moving. The shame is on the boy who took pictures of the girl after he stripped her and after she puked and blacked out again.

I have two sons. You can bet your ass I will be having many discussions about consent and sex with them. I will not let them be uneducated in this regard. I will put the fear of God into them so that they would never think to put their penis in someone who is not able to consent coherently and without alcohol and drugs in their system. I’m not scared to have those discussions with them. I’d be terrified not to.

Being a parent is hard. There is no rule book. There is no right or wrong way to do it. But I can tell you woman to woman, Mom to Mom, this is one area that is not grey. Talk to your sons about sex and consent.

Protect them from becoming a perpetrator with the same vehemence you would protect them from becoming a victim.