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Rape culture starts in the cradle

My pal Jessica Valenti has written a piece in the Guardian arguing that we cannot wait until college or uni to teach consent, instead we must be teaching it to high school students! She’s referring to American high school I assume, which is typically age 14 to 18. Guess what Jessica? That’s too late too!

By the time a kid is 14, he already has fully formed ideas about how to relate to people. I mean even toddlers are hitting if they are hit, yelling if they are yelled at and blowing kisses goodbye if that’s how they are treated. Toddlers! A kid in high school will have grown up learning respect for others because he’s been respected, or else he will take what he wants from who he can because that’s what has been modeled for him through getalong shirts, being forced to kiss Aunt Lily and the general bullying behaviour of mainstream, authoritarian parents.

Consent isn’t just about sex. Consent is about body autonomy and the fact that each individual should be the only person who can decide what happens to their own body. You can’t do whatever you want with a kid because you think you know better and then when the testosterone kicks in change the game and say, “So I know I’ve been telling you when and what to eat, when to shower, when to sleep, whether to cry and all that, but actually that’s not how it works in the adult world. I know all the messages at school, in the media and everywhere else have been telling you that you need to be a big, strong man who takes what you want and you’ve been waiting your whole life to grow up and do so but actually that’s not how it works. No really. No one has ever asked you for permission, but you have to ask for permission.” It’s not going to work.

This is my biggest beef with mainstream feminists. They don’t actually seem to have any idea of how humans grow,  develop, and become the people we are. It’s a sweeping statement, I know but the ones that I rage at really don’t understand psychology. To say that there is any kind of interpersonal guidance that should wait for the adolescent years is positively absurd.

Mainstream feminists like to boast about their big ideas to rid the world of rape culture, but they don’t have a clue. Writing books, creating programs and enacting laws don’t get to the root of the problem. Only good parenting can do that.

You want to stop rape culture for good? It starts in the cradle.


Featured Image courtesy David Goehring

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  1. Vincent's Vincent's

    I would say it starts the moment you are born. My sister in-law treats my nephew with lots of respect. They ask him if he wants something or to do something and if he says no that is the end of it. There is just one problem, at a few days old they forced him to undergo genital mutilation. His body was altered with no regard for his feelings. How can you have a society concerned about consent when the FIRST lesson you teach them is a horrible torture?

    Later in life he gets told it was for his own good, girls will like him more, his natural body was dirty, it was a family decision, he will like it, it covered in the same language we use to excuse other repressible behavior.

    His mother and his father thought they had a right o his body, when I tried to talk to them about their third child? They ignored me completely. Thank fully the child was a girl so the law keeps them from cutting her.

    Teach EVERYONE about consent that it doesn’t just start in the cradle it goes back further.

  2. concerned cynic concerned cynic

    “Consent is about body autonomy and the fact that each individual should be the only person who can decide what happens to their own body.”
    Please understand that the body autonomy of males is very much at risk. Routine infant circumcision (RIC), still the norm in much of the USA and fully tolerated in Canada, most definitely violates this norm. Even Andrea Dworkin wrote that infant circumcision disturbed her. Body autonomy needs to be paired with another norm, freedom from body shaming. For example, opposing RIC is a sysiphian struggle if the intact are at risk of ridicule by the circumcised.
    I was spared RIC by some twists of fate. But my bodily autonomy was violated in other ways, namely by threats of violence to me, by actual violence to some people I love, and by false complaints to the police. I am growing more and more afraid of the way American police summarily execute people they stop and interrogate, and are not subsequently indicted. The risk of being murdered without consequences for the perp is the ultimate violation of body autonomy.

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