The Reality of "Should" and "Are."
As the mother of both a teenage daughter and a teenage son, I have a jumble of emotions about this verdict and how it has played out in our media.
I am so sad for the woman who has to learn to live with and heal from a trauma that she saw splashed across headlines.
I am mad that a judge thought that six months was an adequate punishment for rape. RAPE. Homeless people get longer sentences than that for lying on sidewalks in certain cities in California.
I am relieved that there are good men, brave men, who see an assault occurring behind a dumpster, and know that they have the power to help an unconscious woman and to catch a rapist.
And I am fearful for my kiddos, even as I trust that I am raising good and brave people. I want to tell them that yes, YES, you should feel safe to make stupid decisions like drinking one glass too many of hard punch at a college party and be safe. You should be safe wearing whatever dress or skirt you want to wear, without fear that someone will see that as an invitation.
You should be safe, and you should be able to trust those around you to help you, and not hurt you. "Should" is the operative word here, because "should" and "are" are very different things. You will not always be safe, because there are bad people waiting to catch you at a weak or vulnerable moment. Bad people don't always look like the bogeyman on TV; they often look like the cute swimmer or that guy in your class. Bad people can be charming- they might be more than happy to refill your glass or get you another drink.
I wish safety and security for you as you do silly teenage things and find your way. But I also wish for you the ability to be wise and try to avoid situations that can be unsafe for you, so that you never wake up to the horrors of pine needles in your hair and a rape kit on your mind. And even more than that, I wish and want you to be the helpers, the brave ones, who help take care of others. If you see something wrong, stop it. Use your voice, dial 911, kick and scream, do whatever you need to do, so that you are the light and the helpers that we need in the world.
My favourite blogger, Glennon Melton Doyle, talks about rape culture, and what we need to teach our kiddos. She talks about getting consent every time you want to hug or kiss- "we ask people's permission to pet their dogs every time, so why wouldn't we ask permission to pet each other?!"
Ask permission. Get permission. Respect if someone says no. Respect if they say yes. Respect if they say yes, but then change their mind. If you don't want to give permission, don't. Even if you said yes yesterday. Remember that your body is yours. Respect yours and respect others.
Hard but important talks need to be had. I know I will have them with my monkeys, even if I would rather talk about our dogs or summer vacation. I want them to think about staying safe and strong, and helping others to do the same.
Peace and love and respect and light, buttercups. XOXO