19 de Abril, 2007
How to Create a Rape Victim
Update 2009: This post was controversial. Or perhaps just the title. Some felt my poetic use of the title How To Create A Rape Victim ultimately points blame at a woman for being raped by harshly reminding parents not to trod over their childrens' sense of boundaries and right to withhold affection. I did not intend that implication, though I did come to understand why some readers came away with it. I think the nuance is hashed out in the comments. Still, I would remove the post if I felt it gave that message overall, and if I didnt also get more than a couple comments (here and in other places, like culturekitchen.com where women and parents, both, felt the opposite.
But in case it is needed, let me be clear up front about my thoughts. A man who rapes a woman is to blame 100%, regardless of the woman's saying "no" loud enough, or in some other way defending or not defending from an attack. I do not feel that message is contradicted in this post. But it is a sensitive area and maybe not one to get too poetic with, titlewise. I'm not sure; I am not trying to say the post as it stands is 100 defensible. I grow through all the days I write and think out loud here. Often my thoughts evolve. I mean...I hope that's the point of some of this. What happened here is that I had an experience, it spurred thoughts in me about how I would and do raise my daughter and I wrote a post on it.
Please read through all of the comments attached to this post before making up your mind about it, figuring in this update last.
I WAS WAITING FOR MY SANDWICH at Subway®, and I heard a woman on the phone with her daughter. I knew it was her daughter because she was on the phone from the time my bread was cut in half to the time it was slid into a wax paper bag. It was all I could do to keep from interrupting her and telling her how to raise her daughter. But I have found in the past that people are not always happy to get this kind of input. And I was unsure as to whether my message would get through to her at all, given our differences in class and race. So I bit my tongue and listened to another child being slowly murdered with the toxic sweetness of a parent's insecurities.
My sandwich was delicious. But I did not enjoy it.
The Conversation from my end:
Mom: "...okay, then we'll talk more about then when I get there. Okay, bye. I love you!"
Mom: "I love you, I said."
Mom: "Honey. When someone tells you I love you, you are supposed to say it back."
Mom: "Because it's rude. So...bye, I love you."
Mom: "It's rude because it hurts peoples' feelings. Now say 'I love you'. I love you!"
Mom: "Okay, bye now."
Now, don't get me wrong. This is not a post on women, nor on how mothers ruin daughters. It is a comment on a couple things, though. It is a post, first and foremost, about how parents use their children to fulfill their own emotional needs at the expense of the children. This is not exclusive to mothers by any means, but practiced by mother or father, it is a very dangerous and harmful behavior. It is abuse, in fact, of a very insidious and societally acceptable sort.
In this particular example, it teaches the little girl that her feelings and her personal boundaries are secondary to the feelings and wants of the person who wants to get some lovin' from her. Years of this, and how easy will it be to say "no" to some guy with a boner who gets her alone after the prom? You know all the lines he'll drop on her, and I bet they won't sound too different than her parent's. She'll be inculcated from years of forced affection ("Give your grandpa a kiss...don't be rude," "Tell me you love me, now" "You're hurting my feelings by not saying you love me") and the idea that her own body and feelings are inconsequential in the face of someone else's desires and wants. And then god forbid, should a day ever come when a man forces himself on her, or even coerces her when she'd rather say NO but doesn't feel empowered to—and she comes home absolutely wrecked over it...will the parent ever put 2 and 2 together?
And who will be made to own those feelings of guilt and shame, despite any consequences to the male? The girl who was never taught that her love and her display and expression of that love is HERS to give out at her OWN discretion. And why? So the parent didn't have their poor feelings hurt.
As I have said before, I'm very big on not standing by when I see what I think of abuse to kids. As I've written earlier in this blog, I once went downstairs and confronted my own landlord on their screaming, incessant screaming, at their small children. I was scared, yeah. Anything could have happened. I could have lost my apartment, or far worse. Once upon a time I knocked on a neighbor's door because his screaming at his girlfriend was getting absolutely scary and they were right next to my bedroom wall. The man absolutely flipped out and threatened to kill me when I dared approach him about it (although at least this derailed the topic). Then, I had to listen for hours, him ranting in the next room about going to get his gun and shooting me. I lay there terrified out of my mind with seven size D batteries in a pillowcase wrapped in my fist in case I had to get up and swing it at someone. So you never know what will happen when you step into someone's sphere of abuse. But when it comes to children, it is our duty to disregard our own health and think of theirs. Especially if they are our own children.
Love is not a gun. Don't stick up your kids for a feelgood. Don't aim it like a weapon. Love is a flower. Shower it with care and light and nourishment, and it will bend to you and radiate beauty in response.