The need for parents to have candid and ongoing discussions with their kids about sex and humanity has never been greater
The media is seeking fathers of boys to address what went wrong in Steubenville because the rapists are male. It makes sense, but the Steubenville rape victim, like most all rape victims, is not a guy. She is a female who is now scarred for life because a couple of juveniles had no sense of personal boundaries or respect and violated her in a heinous way, and because it is in our modern DNA to record and broadcast everything we see and do. So yeah, a father of girls has a seat at the Steubenville roundtable, too.
More important than which talking heads get to be heard on TV, this ugly Steubenville rape incident and subsequent trial speaks to a growing challenge faced by parents of both sexes. The need to have frank discussions with our young kids, boys and girls, has never been greater. From an early age, there is a new impetus to have conversations with children that, by all rights, should not actually be a part of a childhood experience designed to be about rainbows, cupcakes, and superheroes. But here we are.
The struggle for parents now is to balance the need to open eyes without washing away the ability of those eyes to see the world as a magical place. This sucks for kids every bit as much as it sucks for parents like me who have no real interest in rushing their sons and daughters through their one and only chance at youthful innocence. But here we are.
The idea, at its most basic, would be for actively involved parents to instill in their children a worldview to help demonstrate that they are each a piece of a sort of grand puzzle, and that decorum while navigating your own path throughout that puzzle is paramount. In other words: don’t harm, don’t rape, and don’t be evil, because, cliché or not, we are all in this thing together. And because every single action by every single human being has real ripple effects, some that will continue to ripple for all of time. This is especially true of scoring cheap thrills at the expense a drunken teenage girl. Don’t be evil.
I would argue that it is also essential to inject a healthy dose of cynicism and a real life street sense into the equation of raising a child. This is a slippery slope, as it is here when the mysticism of the world can begin to erode for a child. I cannot stress enough how much this sucks. But I don’t want my girls to emerge from childhood with their heads down, unaware, and unprepared for the fact that there is real evil in the world; like jocks who casually demonstrate a complete lack of respect for another human being. Of course, a 16-year old shouldn’t be wasted, but that mistake does not beget rape. Don’t be evil.
With lessons for girls on college campuses focusing on “how to avoid getting raped” in lieu of the far more appropriate “don’t rape” lectures for boys, the world, it would seem, is increasingly anti-woman. And so it is more necessary than ever to counteract this disturbing trend by instructing our boys to respect not rape, and to teach our girls to live life with their heads up to see all the rainbows and to never be afraid to kick some ass like a superhero.
This is not how I envisioned parenting my children. But here we are.
For more on the Steubenville rape case
—Steubenville: “It Wasn’t Violent” by Julie Gillis
—The Necessary Evil of Humanizing Rapists by HeatherN
—lead photo by DACPhoto/Flickr