It is difficult for me to see the word Stuebenville and not go into an immediate rant filled with anger and curse words.
There are so many things wrong with what happened.
Sadly, a young woman’s rape did not stop with the act against her person. The media, leaders in her community and her peers have all added to her dehumanization and abuse.
The coaches of the young men convicted knew about the assault and tried to shield them from the well deserved consequences of their actions.They picked up a copy of the playbook that has been used for centuries to protect perpetrators and illigitimize the claims of victims.
As if being raped is not enough, she was video taped, publicly named and threatened. She was called a whore, a drunk and told that she deserved it by thousands of disgusting internet trolls.
Her experience is not even unique.
Ladies and gentleman, what you see before you is how we treat survivors of sexual assault and abuse in our culture.
It would be historically inaccurate for me to claim differently.
The past week has been a parade of terrors and in the back of my mind there sits a heavy as iron question.
How am I supposed to raise Isaiah, Isaac and Levi in this world?
Don’t all parents think that their child would never do such a thing?
How am I any different?
I don’t know that I am. Not for sure.
Someone just asked me if I thought it was harder to raise boys than girls. I used to think raising girls was harder. If you would have asked me last week, that would have been my answer.
I was wrong.
When it comes to gender issues, no one sex is harder to raise than the other. It is the opposite side of the same coin.
While I am weeding through video games that hypersexualize women characters so that my sons don’t grow up with unrealistic expectations, my friends who are mothers of girls are doing the same thing so that their little girls don’t grow up thinking they have to be that stereotype.
While I am teaching my sons to recognize the brilliance of a woman’s mind, my friends who are mothers of girls are encouraging those minds to grow strong and bold.
As a side note, I would die if any of my sons came home with anything less than real intelligence in a woman (or a man – lesbihonest).
While I am teaching my sons to observe the physical reactions others have to their actions, my friends who are mothers of girls are teaching the same lessons of empathy.
“Look at his face. Does it look like he likes that? Why not?”
We both have a lot that the other will not have to deal with. Not many little girls will be called sissies and be told to man up. However, not many little boys will be told to act like a lady.
It’s true that my boys cannot get pregnant.
Isn’t that more dangerous.
Men have the ability to slink through the world causing irreparable damage and then walking away with no stretch marks to show for it. They can assault and hide in the shadows without so much as a scheduled counseling appointment. They can be taught to wield power and control without taking responsibility for their actions.
But you know, at least they cannot get pregnant.
This is not to say that there are not honorable men (or dishonorable women) in the world. This is to say how hard their mothers had to work to raise them that way.
My sons are my joy. They are rough and tumble, sweet and sticky, art on the walls and dirty hands in my pockets.
I never want them to be someone else’s sorrow.
I have known for too long that this world is not a safe place. I don’t trust this world with my children. All I need to do to prove that is evoke the world “Stuebenville”.
We, the mothers of children, need to roll up our sleeves and get to work. It is our job to protect and deliver this next generation with more hope than the last.
We do have the most important job in the world. That is not a platitude. It is a fact that has been made painfully clear. We need to place firmly in the hands of our children a different kind of playbook.