How do we trust a man who capriciously oggles, touches, kisses, grabs, rapes women; a man who has had a string of wives with whom he has been unfaithful; who sexualizes his own children, speaks of his baby daughter’s legs and breasts, says to others–Isn’t she “hot,”–agrees with the radio host that his daughter “is a piece of ass,” claims that he would “date” her if she wasn’t his, and boasts that if his third wife wants another child, it’s fine, because he won’t have anything to do with it anyway, that’s a wife’s job.
How do we trust such a man with children, let alone a country?
How do we have faith in an administration who hides children in windowless warehouses and defends the absence of sleeping accommodations, toothbrushes, toothpaste, showers, soap, towels and dry clothes?
“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay? It’s like incredible,” he says of himself.
Meanwhile, he threatened, demonized & exploited 5 teenage boys, citizens of color, for decades, for a Central Park rape they didn’t commit, writing: BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY–a sentiment echoed by Pat Buchanan who called for the eldest of the five, a 16-year-old, to be “hanged in Central Park,” while the other boys should be “stripped, horsewhipped, and sent to prison.”
And yet, when another woman, #22, comes forth with allegations of rape–against Trump–in a dressing room instead of the park, the bar is already so low (and his privilege so high), that it barely registers.
Psychologists say of infidelity, which I suspect is true of all offense, that once you get close to the line, it’s easier to cross because it’s harder to see.
“Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. And every 8 minutes, that victim is a child.”
Do my friends mean to suggest that my job as a mother is to turn away from girls who have for centuries been sexually assaulted in fear of some hypothetical accusation against my son in the future? (A statistically negligible one at that.)
What also chills me is this other well-meaning admonition:
“Teach your sons not to rape.”
I’ve got to say… I’ve raised two boys and I’ve skipped that one.
The idea that I would have to “teach” my boys not to assault another human being just because that being is female is appalling.
This is a close second to:
“Teach your sons to respect women.”
“Respect women,” is something I’ve never said to my boys, but you can be sure it was everywhere implied. Because women. Are human beings.
It’s the little things.
My boys were raised in a home that practices boundaries and respect, kindness and consideration, anger and connection.
As they came of age, we let them know that their relationship with me had to change in some ways. Though I would always be their mother, I was also a woman, and they were becoming men. Given the difference of size and strength between us and given the history of what it is to be female in a society that perpetuates inequity, my boys would have to be even more mindful of any physical expressions of frustration, anger and persistence in my proximity.
We practiced this. I reminded them. Over time I shared some of the experiences of what it was to grow up female so that they might be more aware and sensitive to the adult gender dynamic between us and between them and women in the world even perhaps if they were innocent of any harm.
All along, since they were very small, we practiced responding to and respecting: No.
If they said, “No,” to tickling, we stopped, no matter how much fun we’d been having.
If they said, “No,” to more kisses or hugs, or to kissing or hugging a friend or relative, we allowed for that.
If they said, “No,” to an experience that made them uncomfortable, we listened, even when it was awkward, say with a doctor or other authority figure.
Violence was neither a form of discipline or a form of entertainment welcomed in our home.
Killing was not a game celebrated.
Degradation was not a source of enjoyment.
Trash talk was a conversation about chores.
The older of our two boys was not permitted to physically intimidate or violate the boundaries of the younger brother; and the younger, in turn, learned to reciprocate.
If the day comes that “some woman” accuses one of my beloved boys of rape, I will be horrified, not because my boys were always “good boys” or “played sports” or “studied hard” or “worked their tails off” (all of which they do) and not because “I taught them better,” but because to violate another in this way is one of the most trauma-inducing acts of violence known.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine: “Rape is about four times more likely to result in diagnosable PTSD than combat.” (The Guardian)
The odds, however, for “ruined lives” have long worked in favor of my sons. Not because they have been raised in a responsive and disciplined home without violence. Not because we engaged in a consciousness practice that allowed us to feel and express emotions, including anger, as well as monitor and modulate those emotions. But far and beyond because my children had the good fortune to be born male (not to mention white, educated and middle class.)
Perpetrators of sexual violence are less likely to go to jail or prison than other criminals. “Only 6 out of every 1,000 do.” (RAINN)
I love my sons with all my heart and respect the men they have become, but it is the humanity of your daughters that most concerns me and which I endeavor, along with my sons, to uphold.
We, my friends, are a family of feminists, which is to say, we aspire to recognize the human rights of all, particularly those whose basic dignity has been threatened for so long.
My sons and husband join me each year as NGO representative at the annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) with a shoutout to the revolutionary work of MenCare.)