In October of 2012, my beautiful wife Alexis and I found out we were expecting our first child. Knowing that you are bringing a child into the world changes your perspective on everything. With bullying in the spotlight, the Steubenville rape case, and the tragic suicide of Rehtaeh Parsons following her rape and subsequent bullying, it is easy as a parent-to-be to worry about the future possibility of such things happening. Alexis and I now know we are having a daughter, but for a decent chunk of her pregnancy we thought we were having a boy. So much so, that even after we found out the baby's gender, we would both slip and call it a "he".
I hope my daughter never faces bullying, and I can barely stomach the thought of her ever dealing with the trauma of rape. But I also find myself asking, what if I'd had a son? What would I teach him so that I would never have to see him stand trial for raping a girl, or have his name come up as a bully who shamed a girl into taking her own life? How would I help shape him into a person who respects a woman, and defends her if she is wronged? The answers are simple, I think.
1. I would tell him that ANY time a woman doesn't consent to sex, even if she's too drunk to respond or asleep, it is rape. Even if she was flirting with you previously.
2. No one owes you sex. Ever.
3. Rape is never okay. Rape is never funny. There are no degrees of rape. Rape is rape.
4. Those that have been through rape deserve your support and sympathy. A kind word is often enough, and sometimes leaving them alone is the appropriate thing to do. Different people deal with trauma differently.
5. You should defend those that have been raped from being bullied. If you see someone being bullied, stand up for them. If it isn't safe to do this, tell me, or another adult who can stand up for them. In order to change how people view rape victims, we must make it clear that it is not okay to bully them.
6. Women deserve your respect. If you give them this, you can look forward to a life of wonderful friendships and relationships with members of the opposite sex.
7. As a man, it is your responsibility to set an example for all men. We must make it clear that rapists do not represent all men, and that society does not accept men who rape.Seems pretty easy, doesn't it son?