Tuesday, April 25, 2017

No still means NO but you have to ask the question to know that

I finished watching "13 Reasons Why" with my almost 13 year old son and it was one of the most powerful things we have ever seen together.    I know he is mature enough to handle the content but he is also still in a formative phase understanding who he is and his growing place in the world.   He is also navigating the world of middle school and soon high school, with it's puberty, posturing, bullying, popularity contests and all those other things we as adults can look back at and wonder why we let them take such an important role in our lives.

The main theme is about bullying and the consequences of that, of how lost some kids might feel but the underlying theme is about sexual assault and the way we as a society still treat our girls and women.   Think about it the names alone are only for women - slut, whore, skank, easy.   Boys and men don't get that they get a high five for getting sex, maybe their downside is the need to lie about how much sex they may have had.   We still hear the despised term "good girl" to imply it somehow makes a girl a better person if she doesn't have sex.   We vilify girls for wondering about how to embrace how they look, to show off a curve or two and then give them clothes choices that play into that objectification as a sexual being who really shouldn't like sex to begin with.

Who made up this shit???  Women, girl, boys, men should enjoy sex -- it doesn't make you a better person if you choose to not have it nor does it make you worse it makes you a person who decided to make a choice with your body.  It is about being old enough to handle the choice.

This bizarre ritual of making girls into "less than" because of sex, into objects to treated as parts and then mistreated based on what they do with or is done to those parts, paired with the use of power that men are given has continued to lead to the sexual abuse we see.

I know of no woman that I am friends or even casual friends with that has not experienced some form of sexual abuse in their life.   Let's do this again I KNOW OF NO WOMAN and I know hundreds of them who I have had discussions with that does not have at least one story.

They range from being touched in public places on our asses, rubbed against in public spaces while we try and move just enough to not make a scene,  to kissing a bit longer while we keep pushing away from a boy that didn't actually move away from us, to just not being asked.  There are the cases of course where it went much further than that - where the girls were raped.   No one forgets any of these, these moments are burned into your brain long after they have faded from the feeling on your body.   The too many times that we all can talk about the times that "No one even asked if it was ok to kiss you - to touch you".    It did not stop even when you said no.   It was someone you liked and you felt you had to because otherwise you may lose them and then you lost yourself when that person betrayed you by telling everyone that it was just a piece of pussy.  A piece - just a piece of ... that is all you are reduced to.  A piece of inconsequential nothingness that you take with you for the rest of your life.   As for the men who do this they do it because they can.  This is not about sex - this is about power, they have it, they can do what they want.

We need to watch "13 Reasons Why" and we need to watch it with our male children because we cannot allow the girls to be asked how much they had to drink, what they were wearing, how come they said yes at first and then no, how come they didn't fight back, how come????  We need to ask how come anyone thinks it is ok to have sex with someone who is passed out ?  How come you feel that you can touch a girl as you want but you wouldn't sit on the hood of your friend's brand new car for fear of damaging it?  How come we do not start with asking the girls if they know it is not their fault that someone took away their ability to say NO, with drugs, with drinks, with just not giving a shit if they said it.

I worked as a rape and domestic violence crisis counselor for 10 years, taught others to be volunteers, and the one thing we learned was that survivors just want to get some control back over their bodies and to have someone tell them it was not their fault.  It is never their fault - even if they are buck naked and drunk and begged for it, when they say no it is NO, when they are not in a state of mind to make a decision oh yeah it is NO.   Men are better than that excuse too many abusers use "I couldn't stop"  - they can stop they choose not to.

It is uncomfortable to watch the show - to have your son ask why would someone do that - to deal with sex questions but if we don't who do we think will?

Sexual assault lives with the survivor forever, I see this from the way the pain still flashes across the faces of anyone who tells their story.   I feel it in my voice when I share my own instances.

We cannot let powerful men get away with harassment and rape because they have money just like we cannot let powerful men get away with these things because they are poor or they rape a religion's core beliefs to say women are theirs for the taking.

No means NO always and we owe it to all to understand that but we have to teach our youngsters that they need to ask even if it seems obvious.  We also need to stop using labels on women that tell them they do not control their own sexuality - like slut, whore, easy - they are not ok to use because they enable the culture of woman having to appear reluctant to not be shamed about it which predators use.  It is time we all said NO to sexual assault.

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