Rape is more common then we acknowledge. We live in the western world that does overflow with opportunity, education and a constant push for human rights. Seems simple enough. How is it in 2017 that an average of 1 out of 5 women are a victim of rape? It’s sickening. Sex education and the dialogue of no meaning no will typically take place in a classroom setting or at home. Too often, it is hardly happening at all. The clear line can be hazy when other factors are considered. The ‘no’ can be unjustifiably muddled by clothing worn, the presence of alcohol and what they perceive. These factors should not influence the line drawn, but they do. So where do we go from here? How do we clear up misperceptions while we give our young women a voice? We must begin defining rape and removing the gray area.
No means no….
Part of the disconnect can lie in a lifestyle saturated in instant access to anything and everything. How can we really expect this not to impact our young people’s perception of themselves and others? Accompany instant access with the desire for instant gratification and it’s merely fodder for flames of a personal violation; it’s frightening. The “right here, right now” mentality aligns with young people’s outlook on relationships and sex. Turn on the tv, check out any movie or flip on the radio and it’s nearly impossible to stumble upon people not having sex, lots of it and with multiple partners.
defining rape and removing the gray area…
There is a clear message that conveys if young people haven’t had sex by 18, there’s something wrong with them. How is this a healthy message? Much of what our kids watch on tv, youtube or via social media glorifies one night stands and promiscuity. These wring any sense of morality and purity out of it. How could this not impact their view on sex?
There may be some of you who may think I’m condoning sex in high school or before marriage. The reality is, no matter what background teens are coming from this mindset will impact a heap of our kids. To not address it would be irresponsible on my part. My heart aches for the many who have and continue to compromise themselves. It goes hand in hand with many young men and women who have an unhealthy perception of themselves and what a relationship looks like. Every day, lines blur and young women’s lives are forever changed. Our young women and men must know this is unacceptable and preventable.
Explain to young men:
- If you take a girl out for dinner, buy her flowers or simply get to the third or fourth date, this does not mean sex is owed to you. Making another human being do something they do not want to, is rape.
- When you are alone with a girl and engaging in physical activities, unless she verbally says it is ‘ok’ to have sex, it is not ok no matter how far along things have gone. Pursue any further; it’s rape.
- Under no circumstance, is unwanted touching or forceful advances in an effort to hit on a girl ok. To get what you want and what you believe she may want is not consent; it’s rape.
- If alcohol is involved and the young lady is impaired in the slightest, unable to verbally state a clear and verbal ‘yes,’ sex is not consensual; therefore it is rape.
- No matter what a girl may wear, how she may flirt, or how much alcohol has they consume they owe you nothing. To believe she was asking for ‘it’ cannot be justified. This is not sex; this is rape.
Explain to young women:
- You do not have to have sex with a few dinners, flowers or a few dates. Know that you are worth more than this. You owe no one anything.
- No one should make you do anything you do not want to do. Yes, means yes and no means no. Do not allow someone to lead you into an isolated area where you may be placed in a situation that is unsafe or uncomfortable.
- If you are in a relationship and feel like that relationship will be in jeopardy if you refuse to engage in physical activities or you “reject” your partner – that is a toxic relationship.
- When you are out and in the mix of others where alcohol may be present; be sure to travel in a group of women. Specifically, have a wingman and never, ever be alone. Their task is to keep an eye out for you and have your back.
- If someone touches or approaches you in a manner that makes you uncomfortable, let them know their advances are unwanted. If they continue, raise your voice and bring attention to your situation.
Empowering our young women….
- Do not allow yourself to be impaired in a setting where males are present. This is an area where you can not thrown caution to the wind.
- Carry pepper spray, attend a few self-defense courses and empower yourself. Be able to defend yourself and fight back; it a long way.
- Hydrate safely: do not take any drinks that you do not witness the seal open in front of you. This includes water and soda. Trust no one.
- Keep your drink with you at all times; if you put it down for 4.2 seconds, get a new drink. Always. Cover your beverage with your hand to avoid anything from being slipped in. Trust no one.
Our young people need to know that life is fragile….
Under no circumstance, is getting physical with another person ever condoned unless yes means yes. Rape is the greatest human violation. It scars hearts and rocks live every day; do not accept this and it must stop.
Not every teen, whether male or female, possess this convoluted view. There are many with a healthy view of the opposite sex. Unfortunately, the skewed perception does apply to enough young people. This fact is disturbing and being proactive is super important. This is uncomfortable, but its relevance is beyond measure.
We have to communicate with our youth. Boys must understand there is nothing cool or admirable about unwanted sex. They must hear that unwanted advances, either physical or verbal, are unacceptable. Girls must understand they have a voice and how critical it is to think about where they go and the situations that arise. May they hear that they owe no one anything ever (I wish I could put a thousand punctuations points behind this!). Our young people are precious, and possessing respect for themselves and their partner is so very important.
I know that rape…
is an uncomfortable topic; it is one I feel compelled to address. The statistics of rape amongst our young women is staggering and unacceptable. How civilized are we when we subject women to this horrible violation? We must continually reinforce strong and positive messages to our young people. We are not communicating with them their method of education is from peers and media. That sets them up to have a skewed perception of themselves as well as males and females. Our voices can resonate in hearts and begin to make an impact!
I believe there is power when we provide the necessary support for survivors and their loved ones. RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and National Incest Association) aims to provide insight on support and strategies for both the survivor and their loved ones. They are an awesome organization!
Know your words have power and they must be ongoing. The fight is uphill, but parenting isn’t for the faint of heart. Keep fighting the good fight! I wish you a week of strong dialogue with your young person, encouragement and lots of coffee on the burner!
Peace, love, and goodness!