Because I feel that I can’t protect you. And what’s worse, I feel that I don’t know how to teach you to protect yourself…
You see this picture of this man? He committed a horrible, unspeakable crime. He raped a woman. And like many monsters before him, and many that will surely come after him, there will be justifications and excuses for his actions.
Yes, I called him a monster. Because I need you to know that not all monsters look scary in their clothes. Or sound scary. Or have scary faces…. Some of them will look nice. And talk nice. And pretend to me your friend. Not all monsters are lurking in he shadows, waiting to grab you. Some of the monsters you will know…and they will know you.
That is terrifying for your Mommy.
One day, you will leave our home, and be off in the world on your own. College will be for you, I hope, a time of self-discovery, making lifelong friends, and having great fun. It most certainly was that for me. So I will hold no false pretense about how you will behave when you get there. I will not hold you to any angelic standards, knowing that my college days were perhaps closer to Hedonism than to Heaven. Just being honest.
But I want to tell you (and your friends) to not get drunk at parties. Because the monsters will then see you as easy prey who didn’t say “no.”
I want to tell you not to go certain places. Because the monsters will feel that you were asking for whatever behavior they lob your way simply because you stepped across a threshold.
I want to tell you not to go alone. Even though that could stifle your independence. And not to go in the dark. Even though you’d miss the night sky and the moon that will illuminate you beautifully. And not to go places that you’re not familiar with. Even if it hobbles your sense of adventure. And not to go with people you don’t know. Even if it means you don’t meet new friends and learn new things, and become a more diverse and therefore better person. And not to be alone with him- whomever he may be- because he could be a fresh-faced, easy-smiling, smooth-talking…. Monster.
I want to tell you these things because I think that they might protect you. That I’m teaching you to be on your guard, this training you to protect yourself. But the truth is, these things that I want to tell you won’t keep you safe.
Because monsters don’t care about the rules. Because monsters don’t care about “no means no.” Because monsters will say “she didn’t say no.” Because monsters will say that you “wanted it,” or that you “we’re asking for it.” Because “we both had too much to drink.” Because you were being “too friendly” or your “skirt was too short.” Becuase you lost control of yourself, and monsters will take advantage of that. Because monsters are not taught to keep their hands to themselves…Because monsters….
And in trying to teach you how to protect yourself in these ways, I am unwittingly, and unwillingly, giving others permission to blame you (should you be a victim of such violence) for being victimized, and thus giving credence to rape culture.
Today, I have a reprieve, Becuase you are only 8. So I have a little time…But I’ve got to get ready… And figure out what to do…