Fathers Must Teach Their Sons That Rape is Unacceptable

rape is unacceptableMany people were upset with some of the news coverage surrounding the Steubenville rape coverage because they felt as if the media was perpetuating rape culture. While I agree with their assessment, I believe the problem is deeper than the media. Many boys are being raised to view women as little more than sexual conquests.

When I was in high school, it was quite common to hear guys talking about “running a train” on a girl. For those who are unfamiliar with this term, it means several guys take turns having sex with a single girl. When I look back on those days, I’m appauled by this blatant disrespect for women and general acceptance of sexual abuse. But I rarely heard anyone speak out against it. In fact, several men in our community encouraged their boys to have sex with as many girls as possible.

Things got progressively worse at college. Instead of merely hearing about these incidents, I was invited to participate. On one occasion, my friend convinced one guy to lure a girl into his room and seduce her while he hid in the closet. When the girl was undressed, my friend planned to jump out and photograph the girl. With the photo, he planned to blackmail the girl unless she performed oral sex on him and his friends. Another friend and I expressed our horror at his plan and told him that we would not be a part of it. His response was, “Why are you worried about that b****? She’s a freak anyway.”

Another time, my roommate planned to bring a girl into our room to have sex with her. He told me to hide under the bed, and we’d take turns having sex with her and she’d be none the wiser. What’s sad about this scenario is that my roommate was actually trying to strengthen our friendship at that girl’s expense. I declined his offer and told him that I’d rather not be included in any of his future conquests.

In both of these scenarios, I wish I had been more direct with my friends and let them know that these actions were in fact rape. Now that I have sons, I intend to make amends for these missed opportunities.

I’ve already started talking to my sons about sex. I want them to have a healthy understanding of their sexuality so they can defend themselves against machismo attitudes. Although my sons are only five and nine, we also have regular conversations on violence towards women. I’ve seen several women I love harmed by physical and sexual abuse. I refuse to allow my sons to believe that these acts are acceptable.

As fathers, we must teach our sons to respect women. This culture of disrespect can only be reversed by strong men taking a stand. We must model appropriate behavior and teach them that their manhood is not tied to their sexual conquests.

Most of all, we have to reinforce the notion that “No” means “No.”

Stay Strong,

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Question: How can make “rape culture” a thing of the past?

Photo by Elvert Barnes via Flickr Creative Commons

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About the author
Frederick J. Goodall is the founder of Mocha Dad - a parenting website focused on fatherhood. He is passionate about parenting and helping men to be great dads, husbands, and role models. You can contact him at fjgoodall@mochadad.com or on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/mochadad
    • You’re welcome. I was compelled to write this post because many people don’t realize how deeply this “rape culture” is embedded in our society.

  1. Our almost 7 year old son has been asking about the facts of life for a while now, so we decided it was time for an age-appropriate education on the subject. We read “It’s Not the Stork” together, and along with that we discussed consent and respect. It’s important to us that the two conversations go together. Good post, Fred.

  2. You’re right. Parents must have candid conversations with their children about sexuality and sexual violence. Although these talks can be uncomfortable, they are absolutely necessary. We must teach our kids about boundaries.

  3. This post touches slightly on some of the things that I have seen, witnessed… how girls, ADOLESCENT GIRLS were viewed when I was growing up.

    It’s about time a MAN initiates dialogue on the role parents; fathers play in their son’s lives. I applaud you and I thank you for your honesty in this & I hope that other ppl begin talking at home, too.

  4. Thank you and I agree, if things are to change it must come from the men.. Men need to teach their sons and Men in the media need to speak out against it.

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