As a dad, there are a lot of lessons I look forward to teaching my daughter. Lessons in being kind, lessons in the importance of education, lessons on how to improve the world around us, and many more along life’s path. However, there is one thing I will never teach my daughter…
I will not teach my daughter how to avoid being raped.
I cannot teach her this lesson for a simple reason — my daughter, and girls everywhere, cannot learn “how to not get raped,” because being raped is not something the victim holds any control over. To teach her that she can avoid being raped, makes a fraction of the responsibility of being raped owned by her. My daughter owns none of this risk.
Only one person is responsible for any rape — the rapist.
Instead, will teach her this…
I will warn my daughter
I will warn her of some dangerous situations, and some actions of others to be leary of. I will warn her that some people will take advantage of people unable to defend themselves, and that some people are capable of terrible things. The problem is she cannot stop these people… all she can do is be aware.
I will teach her to be aware
For now, I can be aware for her. (It’s heartbreaking that I even have to at her age.) However, as my daughter gets older, she has to be aware. I will not be there all the time to protect her. She will have to be aware at every party she goes to. She will have to be aware on long walks home, especially if she is alone. Sometimes she even will even have be aware in the places she will feel most comfortable. And she will have to be aware of people she thinks are friends, but are really looking for opportunities to betray her trust.
I will teach her about consent
Since I cannot teach my daughter not to be raped, please teach your sons, and, of course, ALL kids, about consent. That “no” means “no.” And, furthermore, the absence of “yes,” is a “no.” That “no” is not a negotiation or a game. That, of course, being told “no” could hurt their feelings, and it could damage their pride. I promise that they will recover. However, that “no” is a person’s right — it’s a barrier that one can put up whenever someone needs to. Please teach them that barrier is never to be crossed under any circumstances.
And parents of sons, please teach them one simple concept…
That my daughter is their equal. She is a person with her own goals, dreams, desires, feelings, likes, and dislikes. Teach them that she doesn’t owe anyone anything other than a common politeness we should all have for each other. Teach your boys grow up to be men that can be counted on if someone needs help — not a vulture looking to feed off the temporarily helpless. And teach them that women are going to be his friends, family, coworkers, acquaintances, and in some situations more than that.
Then hopefully we won’t have a future where we even have to warn our daughter about rape.