I’ve spent the last few days with my mind working overtime to process the story of a young woman sexually assaulted on her college campus, and the charging of her rapist, Brock Turner, with a 6-month sentence for 3 felony charges.
I’ve laid awake in my bed, playing the story over and over again in my mind – doing my best to fathom and process just how this all happened. Are you surprised to know I still haven’t figured it out? Because I haven’t.
My shock turned to rage, which slid into despair, and eventually lit a fire of determination.
As I approach my 22nd birthday and am not yet a parent, I am constantly reminded that my “biological clock is ticking” and that “before I know it” I’ll be getting married and having children. (Even if I’m about as far from marriage as I am from Mars, but anyway). My friends (and strangers) who are in that phase of their lives have shared thoughts on how they would feel if the victim was their daughter, the attacker their son.
Being a single woman without children has led my thoughts down a similar – but different road…
Just because I don’t have children does not mean I don’t think about how I plan to raise them someday. If you have ever met me, there’s a chance you’re fully aware that when the time comes I’m praying for sons. When I see things like this happen, my social media feeds are immediately flooded with responses like screaming of how we “shouldn’t teach girls to not be raped, but rather teach boys not to rape.” And I agree — to an extent.
We shouldn’t need to teach our daughters to walk in groups at night, how to fend off an attacker, or use a firearm in self-defense – but the reality of this world is that we do have to teach them these things.
As a 21 year old female I know this first hand, as I am hyper-aware of my surroundings (even in broad daylight), have taken multiple classes in self-defense, and conceal carry a .380 like it’s my job. But when it comes to parenting my children? Things will be a little bit different. “Why is that?” you ask.
I won’t teach my sons “not to rape.”
I won’t teach my sons this, because I’ll be teaching them bigger, more important lessons.
Instead, I’ll be teaching my sons to understand and use their manners. I will teach them the things like keeping their elbows off the table, using napkins instead of their shirts, and to say “please” and “thank you.”
As they grow, I’ll instill in them the importance of lending a helping hand to those in need, to hold (and open) doors, to smile at strangers and friends alike. I’ll teach them that using their manners go far beyond the dinner table or the playground, and that these are valuable lessons that they will carry with them every day of their lives.
I won’t teach my sons not to rape, because I’ll be too busy teaching them the effect that every single one of their actions has not only on themselves – but on everyone around them, and even people they don’t know.
Instead, I’ll be teaching my sons to see the value of every single human being. I will teach them that there will always be people who have opinions and views that will be different from their own, but that they should listen and do their best to understand them anyway.
And I will teach them that if after they do their best to listen and understand them, they still can’t? They should still give them respect, because that is what I would expect of the others for my sons.
I’ll teach them the words of Jesus, who tells us to love thy neighbor – and I’ll teach them that when someone is hardest to love is when they need to be loved the most. I won’t teach my sons not to rape, because I’ll be too busy teaching them the importance of expanding their minds and challenging their own beliefs.
Instead, I’ll be teaching them to draw lines and respect boundaries.
I will teach them that, just as there will be people who have beliefs that do not line up with their own, that there will be people who have different boundaries from their own. If they are anything like me, they will be headstrong and fiercely independent – and I’ll use this to teach them. Just as they feel intruded on when someone goes out of their way to give unsolicited help/advice, others feel the same when they do it too.
I won’t teach my sons not to rape, because I’ll be too busy teaching them to respect boundaries of all types – not just physical.
Instead, I’ll be teaching them to fight their own battles. I won’t be the parent who complains to the coach that my child is not getting fair playing time, or goes to the school when my child gets a bad grade. I will teach them personal responsibility, that if they want something in life? Go after it, work hard, and do your best. I will also teach them that their actions have consequences – and that while I will stand behind them, I will not fight their battles for them.
Just as I will teach them that their actions have a ripple effect, I will teach them that they must deal with whatever comes their way from that ripple effect. I won’t teach my sons not to rape, because I’ll be too busy teaching them to take responsibility for their actions.
I don’t want my sons to grow up learning what they “shouldn’t” do. I want my sons to learn the important lessons – respecting boundaries, personal responsibility, kindness, humility, compassion.
In the flurry of fury and disgust for Brock Turner, too many of us have turned a blind eye on the two men in this story who exemplify all of these qualities. Carl-Fredrik Arndt and Peter Jonnson were the two Swedish exchange students on bicycles who found “Emily Doe” and chased Turner down – arguably potentially saving her life.
I don’t want to tell my sons, “Don’t be like Brock Turner.” I want to teach them the lessons that will lead them to do the right thing in all of the situations in their lives that call for tough decisions.
I want to raise my sons to be strong, Christian men who model themselves after the greatest role model they could ever have. I want to raise my sons to be strong men, who will raise their own future generation of strong men. I don’t want to teach my sons “not to rape,” I want to raise them in a way that the thought will never cross their minds
So, no. I won’t teach my sons “not to rape.”
I’ll be too busy teaching them to be the boys on bicycles instead.