Every time I see someone say we should be teaching our boys not to rape, or I read about women who blame themselves for being raped I want to scream at all the talking heads on all sides for neglecting what in my mind is the obvious. The whole reason I started this blog is because I feel like the only person in the world connecting child development and parenting practices with rape culture and other feminist ideals. Society is made up of a myriad of different people who all started as babies learning about the world from their parents. Everything we do with our children teaches them about the world, each experience creates new synapses or strengthens what’s been created. Sadly a number of mainstream parenting practices unwittingly lay the groundwork for rape culture which is then just built upon in school, the media, pop culture and everywhere. These are the worst offenders: [bctt tweet=”Sadly a number of mainstream parenting practices unwittingly lay the groundwork for rape culture”]
1 – Spanking – The research has been done and the results are in, spanking usually creates violent people with self esteem issues, depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses. You may disagree and think that you turned out just fine but most people cannot see themselves perfectly, and you cannot know how different you’d be if you weren’t spanked. Also, don’t most people want their kids to turn out better than just “fine?” In addition, look at what spanking is teaching a child. The one with the power gets to decide what happens with my body. I’m not in control of my own body. I’m a bad person, it’s my fault. Its already been proven there are other more effective and more empowering ways to “discipline” a child, so their is no excuse anymore for anyone to keep doing this.
2 – The getalong shirt – I first saw this in an article entitled “Parents getting it right” or something to that effect. But the getalong shirt is not getting anything right. In most photos of kids in this punishment they are crying and upset, being forced into close proximity with a sibling that they have been having a confrontation with. There is nothing right about that. It is, again, teaching kids that their bodies are not their own and that the person with the most power gets to tell them what to do with their body. And again, it’s their own fault.
3 – Forced hugs and kisses – “Give your Auntie a kiss! Come on don’t be rude.” You can see where this is going right? I don’t even force my daughter to give me a kiss goodnight if she doesn’t feel like it. No pressure, no guilt. Hugs and kisses should be given willingly not coerced.
4 – Authoritarian parenting – In general authoritarian parenting, where kids must do as they’re told and ask no questions, has worse outcomes for kids than authoritative. In general authoritarian parenting is the kind of environment, along with our patriarchal-steeped culture, that is going to be teaching girls that they must do what the powerful authority figure tells them to do and teaches boys that they must become the powerful authoritarian figure to be worth anything.
5 – Forced hygiene practices – Brushing hair, cleaning teeth, taking a bath, wearing a coat. All this stuff is important but if you’re just forcing it on a screaming child rather than taking the time to compromise and cooperate, you guessed it, they’re learning might is right. I won’t say I never have to fall back on brushing a crying child’s hair or forcing a child to get their hair washed because I do. Hygiene is important but the older they get the more the responsibility falls on them and the more discussion and compromise can happen.
I know it’s difficult to change the way we do things and it may be hard to hear, but rape culture doesn’t exist just because men are evil. It exists because of the things we teach our children. There is a brilliant post I read recently called The Real War on Boys & Men and it goes further into the ways in which we raise boys to be unapologetic macho men. We need to all take a step back and see how we can change things from the bottom up, because once they’re in high school the damage is done.
Featured image courtesy of Nick Kendrick