Just Another Day In My Brain Where Parenting and Violence Awareness Collide
Anyone else find the metallic grind of hard, fresh coffee beans hitting blades … to be a soothing sound? Here I tap-tap-tap, amongst the hum of big, shiny, beautiful, bliss-creating-machines; emitting the most splendid scent, oozing and dripping the promises of warmth and awakening. Anywhere else and the background chatter would be counter-productive to my concentration, but somehow … within the glorious confines of good ‘ole Starbucks, I am at peace. Perhaps it has something to do with the absence of one’s own children (mine) screaming peals of joyous rapture and/or discontent, the yanking of my clothes and elbows in my nose. It is that ruckus alone that perhaps some can work in, but not I.
It is in my little bubble of horribly corporate loving, self-fraught, Americano glazed paradise that I am subject to loud talkers. The sort that I wish I could ignore, but spewing ideologies that inevitably crack me wide open.
You can always presume if anything gets me boiling, it’s some misogynist prick spouting bullshit ad nauseam, accompanied by a smiling and giggling female constantly nodding in agreement to said asshat’s nuggets of wisdom. (Adding a few of her own to the mix.)
You over there, sitting next to me with your coffee date. I don’t want to hear you prattle on about your job as a security guard at the local community college campus, loud as fuck — like everyone in here needs to know what a big man you are as you puff up your chest. I don’t want to hear your thoughts about drunk girls on campus and how often they, ‘complain about sexual assault.’ I definitely don’t want to hear you chuckle through how you helped a most recent ‘victim’ of one particular ‘drunk girl’s’ complaint, ‘get away with it.’ A most unassuming guy of, ‘like 40.’ (Because apparently only young, attractive men sexually assault, young, equally attractive women who AREN’T drunk.) He went on to detail how often girls make sexual assault ‘complaints’ on campus, and how in this most recent particular case the dude was totally unassuming. He didn’t look like a predator. If he was going to put his hand up a girl’s skirt it would have been someone way more hot than that girl. Apparently, this is what Mister Innocent said to the security guard after they joked about escaping the complaint. Yea, how unassuming. How respectful. I couldn’t escape their words, as this young man’s date nodded her head in agreement and talked about what goes on in her own circle and that, ‘drunk girls who dress like sluts just ask for it.’ That’s what she said. Flippantly. No shame. There was much laughter and flirtatious smiles exchanged as they found their common ground. A real couple of kindred spirits.
IIf only I had enough time to reproach the couple sitting next to me. But then, I would be been the awkward, inappropriate one. As if I could change anyone’s opposing mind on such topics anyways. It doesn’t matter what she was wearing or if she was intoxicated or not. Saying she was drunk and therefore assuming her memory incorrect or that she was asking for it is complete BS. Yet this opinion is the disturbing norm. We have to teach our sons better than this, world. PLEASE. Young women can experiment with their sexuality and *GASP* partying and booze just as young boys/men can. We all did/do it. (Well, most of us anyways – to some varying degree or another. I’m not talking about addiction. I’m talking about experimentation. There is and can be a difference. It’s (part of) what we growing humans do on the cusp of teen-hood into adulthood. Hopefully, we have some sort of solid support system that is privy to what we’re up to. A voice in our ear, a positive influence in our brains and hearts.
Some staggering stats on sexual violence, as reported via York University:
- 4 out of 5 female undergraduates recently surveyed at Canadian universities said that they had been victims of violence in dating relationship. Of that number 29% reported incidents of sexual assault.
- A recent survey on date rape showed that 60% of Canadian college-aged males indicated that they would commit sexual assault if there were certain that they would not get caught.
- According to Statistics Canada, only 6% of all sexual assaults are reported to the police.
- 31% of sexual assaults occur in dating and acquaintance relationships.
- The majority of date and acquaintance rape victims are young women aged 16 to 24.
- A 1993 survey found that one-half of all Canadian women have experienced at least one incident of sexual assault or physical violence. Almost 60% of these women were the targets of more than one of these incidents.
- Statistics show 1 in 4 Canadian women will be sexually assaulted during her lifetime.
- The effects of sexual assault on a woman’s mental health and well-being can be just as serious as physical injuries. 9 out of 10 incidents of violence against women have an emotional effect on the victim.
- False accusations of rape happen no more often than false reports of other types of crime: about 2 to 4%, which means that 96 to 98% of reports are true.
- The majority of date and acquaintance rape victims are young women aged 16 to 24.
And yet people in society love to debate the “1in 5″ and whether or not we are germinating rape culture through denial, flippancy, minimization and misplaced call to action regarding responsibility and accountability. (On women.) Much is the same through the lack of media reporting; the conservative government and societal denial of the disturbing number (1100 and growing) of missing and murdered Indigenous women (#MMIW ) in Canada. (I’d bet any body-part that the numbers in the States are just as staggering.) Indigenous women right in Canada are being trafficked, as reported by Martha Troian of Muskrat Magazine.
Regardless of all of this, is it naive of me to suggest that a young woman should be able to wear whatever she wants without giving one single fuck of a thought to how it might be perceived? It is not a woman’s responsibility to manage a man’s perception of these things. It’s tough enough to learn how to value ourselves and not attach all of our self-worth to our appearance or how we dress. It is a man’s OWN RESPONSIBILITY to manage his own thoughts, attractions, etc. We women are not the martyrs for the men; a billboard for effective seduction management. Preposterous. Yet that is the expectation.
As I tap-tap-tap — I think of my own daughter and the fact that many young men aren’t taught to take responsibility for themselves in this way. College sex crimes alone have increased 52% in the last 10 years, as reported by the U.S.Department of Education. The answer? Focus on girls, at a young age, this issue is our responsibility didntcha-know. We have a long list of rules for survival on the streets, in the schools and in the workplace; and thus, this is the world in where the asshat of my morning, unfortunately, harbours the same type of thought processes and varying types of these conversations are happening all over the world. In many communities, amongst many families. So how do I want to arm her for this type of whack reality? To somehow keep her safe; while teaching her about feminism, equality and her right to express and experiment with all of these things? Is there a way to do it safely? I surely don’t know — because it certainly didn’t happen for me.
One of the most influential quotients to my inevitable un-doing as a young woman was the absence of that voice. Or those voices. That consistent support and honesty and unconditional love that only a parent or parent(s) can offer. Abby (and Wyndham) will always have that and I’m hoping that our relationship with our kids as they grow and mature, is a big part of how they manage their own experimentation and self-love. I want to empower and encourage my daughter to be fierce, loud and experimental while keeping her safe at the same time. Just as I do my son.
My arms will always be here. A home my kids will always have.
As much as I worry about this shit, I still have some time to influence their innocence as much as I can. To continue to acknowledge the crisis we are in, as uncomfortable of a topic as it may be for some.
Have you been sexually assaulted at school or in the workplace? You are not alone my friend and as trite as it may sound — it is not your fault. Please don’t let anyone minimize what happened to you and find someone you trust to talk about it with and support you in reporting your assault. Are you a survivor from a long-time ago (or recently) who was treated to a hefty round of shame and shushing? Voice your experience here. This is a place where you will never be silenced.
Also, if you are a parent who worries and thinks about these issues, please share in the comments how you hope to create change, starting right at home with your own families and how you raise your kids. I’m thirsty for this type of discussion. We all need to be talking about this stuff way more openly, way more often because we are failing to protect and empower our young women and men at the same time. We are.
Community Resource Guided For Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women
Native Women’s Association of Canada
Act To End: Violence Against Women
RAINN: Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network
Canadian Women’s Foundation
Futures Without Violence
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE
Assaulted Women’s Helplines:
|Toll Free TTY||1.866.863.7868|
National Child Sexual Abuse Helpline: