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.