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How To Turn Your Son Into a Sexual Basket Case

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One of the bloggers I follow posted this this this morning and I thought it might spark an interesting conversation. It seems that a common train of thought is that girls don't need to be taught to take precautions against rape, instead we should be focusing on teaching boys not to rape, but do you think that can go too far? Is it really fair or healthy?

How to Turn Your Son into an Sexual Basket Case

 Tuesday, September 10, 2013 12:39 PM Comments (8)

All right, so we’re all agreed that we don’t want our sons to grow up to be like Robin Thicke.  But the Thicke school of sex ed is not the only place where boys get a distorted, damaging education about sexuality; and girls are not the only ones being shamed. 

The author of What My 1o-Year-Old Son Knows about Rape So Far lives near a college campus, and she and her son often see shirtless boys acting macho and girls acting flirty.  Her son has questions about why the boys and girls act and dress the way they do, and, she says “he spends quite a bit of time wondering about himself in eight years.”

So she responds by telling him that, sometimes, the shirtless boys he sees get drunk and rape girls, and that someday he will get drunk, and when he does, he better stop himself before he rapes anyone, or she will disown him.

Here a few circumstances under which her approach would be correct:

--If her son has already tried to rape someone;
--if her son is a sociopath who doesn’t care whether he’s hurting people, and needs to be scared into submission;
--if her son is so developmentally disabled that he can’t tell when he’s hurting people, and needs to be scared into submission.

Her son is not like that, though.  What she says about her son is that "he’s trying his best to figure out a few things about relationships and sexuality," and "he’s confused."

He’s ten.  He knows almost nothing about girls, and hardly anything more about himself.  He barely understands, from the way she describes it, the mechanisms of sex.  But one of the first lessons she teaches him about his body is:

"Let’s be honest:  the penis does what it does, and whether the sex is consensual or not, that penis is engaged in an action that is pretty consistent whether it’s a happy experience or a horrible experience."

Her intention, I suppose, is to drive home the point that consent is paramount.  But the effect, I guarantee you, will be to make her son feel guilty about having a penis -- and to have guilt and excitement forever twined together in his heart and imagination. 

I hope, for the sake of her son, that she’s exaggerating, and misrepresenting the way she really speaks to him.  But there’s this:

"I’ve made him repeat after me: I will never force myself upon a woman or a man. It simply isn’t a choice. I’ve gone so far as to tell him that if he rapes somebody, he’ll have to find a new family in prison and that he won’t get to hang out with us anymore. That almost made him cry."

She threatened her ten-year-old son with having to “find a new family” if he does what she seems to imagine that he will almost certainly do if his mother (his mother.  Where is the dad in all of this?  She says she's married. Why is he not the one having these conversations?) doesn’t drum into his head that boys are super rapey, and he damn well better tamp that inherent rapiness down.

This is abuse.

She says, “I know that one day, he’ll unwrap it all and make it his own in a healthy way.”

No, my friend, he won’t.  One day, he’ll realize that the reason all his relationships crash and burn is that his own mother tried to make him feel guilty for being born a boy.

If we believe that girls should not be shamed, then we owe the same care to boys.  If we teach girls to respect their bodies and to expect to be respected, then we owe the same lesson to boys.  We don’t teach girls about sexuality by saying, “Let’s be honest, vaginas have a way of forcing boys into fatherhood whether it’s consensual or not, so you better keep it to yourself, or you better find a new family in the home for unwed mothers, because you won’t get to hang around us anymore.”  So, why, oh why, would you say that to your son?

Most boys are physically stronger than most girls.  Boys are usually the ones who rape, not girls.  I get it.  Boys do need to be told that they must not use that strength to abuse other people. 

But boys have just as strong a need as girls to hear from their parents that their sexuality is something good, something powerful, a gift given to them from God.  Making a ten-year-old boy chant, “I promise mommy I’ll never rape”?   Not gonna send that message.

My prediction?  The first time this kid has anything approaching a sexual experience, no matter how consensual on the woman’s part, he’s going to fall apart, because his idea of sexuality is a big, knotted ball of guilt and fear and shame.  Or even before that:  something totally innocent will happen – say, he’ll be leaning over to get a drink at the water fountain, and will accidentally drool on the girl standing next to it -- and, being a ten-year-old boy, he will be so confused that he’ll be convinced he somehow accidentally raped her, and his mother won’t love him anymore, and he should run away from home.

I used the phrase “basket case” deliberately.  It originally meant a soldier who’d lost his arms and legs, and had to be carried around in a basket. With his appendages blown off, he was powerless, considered useless.
 
This is what this woman is doing to her son:  turning him, emotionally, into a sexual amputee.  You want to shame someone?  Shame on her.



Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/simcha-fisher/how-to-turn-your-son-into-an-sexual-basket-case#ixzz2eVsRiKpm

                      

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9                                                   My Blog

by on Sep. 10, 2013 at 1:50 PM
Replies (31-40):
lokilover
by Bronze Member on Sep. 10, 2013 at 4:50 PM



Quoting stringtheory:

I was about to edit to add that I read the blog post of this particular mom...yes, she's real, so I stand corrected, but she is far from the cultural norm, so my opinion doesn't change. At all.

Quoting lokilover:




Quoting stringtheory:

Yeah, if this was the way things generally go down, this might be relevant to...anything. The fact is, both male and female can handle discussion about sex that not only doesn't shame them but can give them a healthy respect for its consequences, good and bad. Unfortunately, more girls will be told that if they have sex, they lose worth somehow than boys will be told "you're bound to grow up wanting to rape so just know I won't love you anymore if you do!" Glad this blogger found a nutcase (whose existence is questionable) to illustrate the not-so-prevalent issue of male sex shaming.

What do you mean her existence is questionable? 



Well, I'm glad I caught your ignorance in time. Now all the world will always be able to see it.

The problem that this thread is addressing is how we can teach our children about rape in a way that is healthy. The OP was specifically asking if focusing on teaching boys not to rape could be taken too far. Perhaps you actually want to address one of these issues, instead of inventing conspiracy theories and getting mad it's being discussed?


lokilover
by Bronze Member on Sep. 10, 2013 at 4:51 PM



Quoting Aestas:

This article completely misrepresents what the linked post says. Completely.

No, it really doesn't.

Aestas
by Gold Member on Sep. 10, 2013 at 4:53 PM

You should read the blog post linked in the OP. It sounds like what you're describing is actually exactly what that mom is doing. The "new family in prison" part was a bit much, but seriously, go read it. It's not at all as the OP describes.

Quoting krysstizzle:

The mother the blogger is referring to sounds completely ridiculous. 

Anything can go too far. In order to raise respectful sons, it takes more than words and threats. It takes treating them with respect, having male role models that are decent and respectful, having on-going conversations about society and the world around them and how that operates. It takes speaking up when you see something really wrong happening and encouraging them to do the same. Raising boys that don't rape doesn't require pointed threats, it just requires raising them right and with awareness and with intention. 

eta: I wrote specifically of boys since I am raising boys and we're talking about boys and rape. The same could be said of girls and raising them. 


FrogSalad
by Sooze on Sep. 10, 2013 at 4:55 PM

I'm so sad for that boy.  I can't imagine what the hell that mother is thinking.  Instead of instilling the idea that sexuality is normal and healthy but comes with responsibility, she immediately equates sex with rape in her young son's mind.

stringtheory
by Gold Member on Sep. 10, 2013 at 4:56 PM
Wow, very offensive. I did go back and edit and kept my original up there, no harm no foul. So your response is pretty harsh. As for the topic, yes. It can go too far, it mostly doesn't go far enough because this mom's tactic is far from the norm.

I'm not mad its being discussed (though I'm wondering why your so pissed about my response), and what conspiracy theory? Do you know what a "conspiracy" is?


Quoting lokilover:




Quoting stringtheory:

I was about to edit to add that I read the blog post of this particular mom...yes, she's real, so I stand corrected, but she is far from the cultural norm, so my opinion doesn't change. At all.



Quoting lokilover:





Quoting stringtheory:

Yeah, if this was the way things generally go down, this might be relevant to...anything. The fact is, both male and female can handle discussion about sex that not only doesn't shame them but can give them a healthy respect for its consequences, good and bad. Unfortunately, more girls will be told that if they have sex, they lose worth somehow than boys will be told "you're bound to grow up wanting to rape so just know I won't love you anymore if you do!" Glad this blogger found a nutcase (whose existence is questionable) to illustrate the not-so-prevalent issue of male sex shaming.

What do you mean her existence is questionable? 




Well, I'm glad I caught your ignorance in time. Now all the world will always be able to see it.

The problem that this thread is addressing is how we can teach our children about rape in a way that is healthy. The OP was specifically asking if focusing on teaching boys not to rape could be taken too far. Perhaps you actually want to address one of these issues, instead of inventing conspiracy theories and getting mad it's being discussed?



Aestas
by Gold Member on Sep. 10, 2013 at 4:59 PM

Here is the blog post the OP refers to:

What My 10-Year-Old Son Knows About Rape So Far

By  at 12:46 pm

college campusThe semester approaches. The students have all returned to our small town and the sun is out in Athens, Ohio, which means the students take their shirts off and stand around on their front lawns in their bathing suits. They blow up kiddie pools and fill them with water and rubber ducks, then they stand around some more, sometimes in the kiddie pool, drinking their alcohol and blasting their music.

We live in a pedestrian friendly town, so we walk by these students on our way to get ice cream or watch a dance performance on campus. My son, 10, watches them all very carefully. They’re like an alien species from a distant planet. And he knows that he will eventually visit this distant planet, and so he spends quite a bit of time wondering about himself in eight years. Sometimes he shares his thoughts; other times, I can see him having an intimate dialogue inside his head. I know enough to leave him alone at these moments, but other times, he wants to talk.

“The boys are able to be naked from the waist up, but the girls need to cover their breasts. Why is that?” Or, “Do the boys feel embarrassed to be without their shirts?” Or, “They’re all flirting and laughing. I wonder if they’ll all start kissing.”

My responses vary. There are moments I tell him to mind his own business and stop staring. There are other times that I laugh at what he imagines comes next: all 30 or so students suddenly starting to kiss, there, on the lawn, in their kiddie pools. He’d like to catch them all doing that, I’m sure.

What I understand is that he’s trying his best to figure out a few things about relationships and sexuality, and his models happen to be college students. Sometimes he joins me for Friday night Shabbat services where I work. He can be found playing music with the students or eating a meal with a group. He watches their interactions with one another. He reports back on what they’ve done or said.

Once, two students were in the kitchen washing dishes after Shabbat dinner and Zev came back to me and asked me when they were going to kiss, or if they had kissed. I asked him for more clarification–“What makes you wonder about their kissing?”

“Well, they’re standing close and they’re giggling a lot. And they just feel like they need to kiss.”

“Well,” I responded, “maybe they do need to kiss, but we need to give them some space and let them come to their own conclusions about when and if they should kiss.” He wasn’t totally satisfied with that answer.

His bris happened 10 years ago in the same building that he’s now witnessing love and romantic relationships. In fact, his entire Jewish experience, other than trips to Israel (with college students) and just a bit of Jewish summer camp (also surrounded by college students), have happened in this building. He’ll likely become bar mitzvah in this space, and eventually, he’ll go away and experience new Jewish communities that don’t have anything to do with his rabbi mom and professor dad. In the meantime, much of what he can observe, in the way of college student behavior, happens inside our Hillel building or around the streets of Athens.

Which leads me to the harder issues. Which we’ve just started getting to. I knew before the Steubenville cry that we needed to talk to him about rape. Of course that would happen, but something about the boys on the lawms without their shirts, combined with his own awakening curiosities about what actually happens, combined with our close proximity to Steubenville, meant that we initiated the conversation a bit earlier than we expected. So, on one of our walks around town, our 10-year-old got schooled on what happens on college campuses, right here on our own campus, in these spaces that we’re walking past that look happy and friendly. He now knows that these spaces turn ugly sometimes. See that boy with his shirt off, the one standing in the kiddie pool that’s laughing and smiling? Well, he might not be laughing at 3 a.m. after he’s had too many drinks. He might get really aggressive and really stupid and make the worst choice of his life.

It’s a solemn conversation. He doesn’t say much, and I can tell he’s confused. And I realize, in the context of our conversations, that his awakening sexuality is, in fact, linked to the act of rape. These two things are merged together for him, in part because of the close proximity of Steubenville, in part because of the emergence of naked bodies all over campus, and in part, because it seemed like the right conversation to have, for now.

These conversations are also linked to our Judaism and our Torah. Years ago, when I was in rabbinical school in Philadelphia, I went to a bris where there were lots of rabbis and students and prominent leaders in the Philadelphia Jewish community. The house was stuffed full of people. I stood in the back and listened very intently to what the presiding rabbi was saying and took notes like a good rabbinical student. She spoke directly to the baby and told him that he would need to use his penis in wise and wonderful ways, for it holds much power in the world. And I remember thinking: Oh my god, I can’t believe she’s saying that!And, Yes. Of course!

This conversation needs to start right now. This is where we begin telling stories of smart choices and power and respect. The rabbi went on to retell the midrash from Niddah 30b, the one where the baby learns everything in utero, but then the angels come along and wipe all that knowledge away, creating the vertical groove between the nose and the upper lip. We learn, in utero, not to rape. And we’re reminded of this first at the bris, and as parents, we need to reinforce this throughout a boy’s lifetime.

We’ve all been told that a loving and healthy sexual relationship isn’t the same thing as rape, but let’s be honest: the penis does what it does, and whether the sex is consensual or not, that penis is engaged in an action that is pretty consistent whether it’s a happy experience or a horrible experience. And he’s had questions about that. The mechanics of it all. The use of the penis. Where it goes and how it gets there. “But wait, mom. How does it actually get inside the vagina?” So we spend time talking about how it gets used properly, and how it gets used improperly. We talk about desire, and consent, and safety. It’s all wrapped up together. I know that one day, he’ll unwrap it all and make it his own in a healthy way. But for now, it’s my responsibility to teach him that he’s not allowed to be a rapist.

Unlike the US Attorney’s new program in West Virgina, I haven’t taught him about the implications of posting his violence on social media. Instead, I’ve made him repeat after me: I will never force myself upon a woman or a man. It simply isn’t a choice. I’ve gone so far as to tell him that if he rapes somebody, he’ll have to find a new family in prison and that he won’t get to hang out with us anymore. That almost made him cry.

Eventually, we’ll study the rape of Tamar and talk about guilt and jealousy. We’ll look at Jewish law and see how the rabbis approach sexual abuse. And we’ll have conversations about who he needs to be in college, about how I hope he’ll be the one that steps in. That I hope he’ll be the one that tells the asshole at the party to stop acting like such a creep. He’ll be the one, when he eventually visits the alien planet known as college, that will walk the girl home and help her inside and then leave or maybe pass out on the couch if he himself has had too much to drink. These will be the next rounds of conversations. Lest you think I’m acting like a know-it-all, let me tell you that we have no other choice but to have these types of hard conversations.

If I don’t, then I could be that crying mother at the police station saying to the officers: No. It can’t be–I raised him with values. We’re a nice family. He’s such a nice boy.

lifeforchrist
by on Sep. 10, 2013 at 5:00 PM

I find nothing wrong with the original blog post. SHe's Jewsih not a raging liberal. She's raising her son in the Jewsih faith and I agree with most of what she's teaching. I can find nothing wrong with this post.

lokilover
by Bronze Member on Sep. 10, 2013 at 5:04 PM



Quoting Aestas:

Here is the blog post the OP refers to:

What My 10-Year-Old Son Knows About Rape So Far

By  at 12:46 pm

college campusThe semester approaches. The students have all returned to our small town and the sun is out in Athens, Ohio, which means the students take their shirts off and stand around on their front lawns in their bathing suits. They blow up kiddie pools and fill them with water and rubber ducks, then they stand around some more, sometimes in the kiddie pool, drinking their alcohol and blasting their music.

We live in a pedestrian friendly town, so we walk by these students on our way to get ice cream or watch a dance performance on campus. My son, 10, watches them all very carefully. They’re like an alien species from a distant planet. And he knows that he will eventually visit this distant planet, and so he spends quite a bit of time wondering about himself in eight years. Sometimes he shares his thoughts; other times, I can see him having an intimate dialogue inside his head. I know enough to leave him alone at these moments, but other times, he wants to talk.

“The boys are able to be naked from the waist up, but the girls need to cover their breasts. Why is that?” Or, “Do the boys feel embarrassed to be without their shirts?” Or, “They’re all flirting and laughing. I wonder if they’ll all start kissing.”

My responses vary. There are moments I tell him to mind his own business and stop staring. There are other times that I laugh at what he imagines comes next: all 30 or so students suddenly starting to kiss, there, on the lawn, in their kiddie pools. He’d like to catch them all doing that, I’m sure.

What I understand is that he’s trying his best to figure out a few things about relationships and sexuality, and his models happen to be college students. Sometimes he joins me for Friday night Shabbat services where I work. He can be found playing music with the students or eating a meal with a group. He watches their interactions with one another. He reports back on what they’ve done or said.

Once, two students were in the kitchen washing dishes after Shabbat dinner and Zev came back to me and asked me when they were going to kiss, or if they had kissed. I asked him for more clarification–“What makes you wonder about their kissing?”

“Well, they’re standing close and they’re giggling a lot. And they just feel like they need to kiss.”

“Well,” I responded, “maybe they do need to kiss, but we need to give them some space and let them come to their own conclusions about when and if they should kiss.” He wasn’t totally satisfied with that answer.

His bris happened 10 years ago in the same building that he’s now witnessing love and romantic relationships. In fact, his entire Jewish experience, other than trips to Israel (with college students) and just a bit of Jewish summer camp (also surrounded by college students), have happened in this building. He’ll likely become bar mitzvah in this space, and eventually, he’ll go away and experience new Jewish communities that don’t have anything to do with his rabbi mom and professor dad. In the meantime, much of what he can observe, in the way of college student behavior, happens inside our Hillel building or around the streets of Athens.

Which leads me to the harder issues. Which we’ve just started getting to. I knew before the Steubenville cry that we needed to talk to him about rape. Of course that would happen, but something about the boys on the lawms without their shirts, combined with his own awakening curiosities about what actually happens, combined with our close proximity to Steubenville, meant that we initiated the conversation a bit earlier than we expected. So, on one of our walks around town, our 10-year-old got schooled on what happens on college campuses, right here on our own campus, in these spaces that we’re walking past that look happy and friendly. He now knows that these spaces turn ugly sometimes. See that boy with his shirt off, the one standing in the kiddie pool that’s laughing and smiling? Well, he might not be laughing at 3 a.m. after he’s had too many drinks. He might get really aggressive and really stupid and make the worst choice of his life.

It’s a solemn conversation. He doesn’t say much, and I can tell he’s confused. And I realize, in the context of our conversations, that his awakening sexuality is, in fact, linked to the act of rape. These two things are merged together for him, in part because of the close proximity of Steubenville, in part because of the emergence of naked bodies all over campus, and in part, because it seemed like the right conversation to have, for now.

These conversations are also linked to our Judaism and our Torah. Years ago, when I was in rabbinical school in Philadelphia, I went to a bris where there were lots of rabbis and students and prominent leaders in the Philadelphia Jewish community. The house was stuffed full of people. I stood in the back and listened very intently to what the presiding rabbi was saying and took notes like a good rabbinical student. She spoke directly to the baby and told him that he would need to use his penis in wise and wonderful ways, for it holds much power in the world. And I remember thinking: Oh my god, I can’t believe she’s saying that!And, Yes. Of course!

This conversation needs to start right now. This is where we begin telling stories of smart choices and power and respect. The rabbi went on to retell the midrash from Niddah 30b, the one where the baby learns everything in utero, but then the angels come along and wipe all that knowledge away, creating the vertical groove between the nose and the upper lip. We learn, in utero, not to rape. And we’re reminded of this first at the bris, and as parents, we need to reinforce this throughout a boy’s lifetime.

We’ve all been told that a loving and healthy sexual relationship isn’t the same thing as rape, but let’s be honest: the penis does what it does, and whether the sex is consensual or not, that penis is engaged in an action that is pretty consistent whether it’s a happy experience or a horrible experience. And he’s had questions about that. The mechanics of it all. The use of the penis. Where it goes and how it gets there. “But wait, mom. How does it actually get inside the vagina?” So we spend time talking about how it gets used properly, and how it gets used improperly. We talk about desire, and consent, and safety. It’s all wrapped up together. I know that one day, he’ll unwrap it all and make it his own in a healthy way. But for now, it’s my responsibility to teach him that he’s not allowed to be a rapist.

Unlike the US Attorney’s new program in West Virgina, I haven’t taught him about the implications of posting his violence on social media. Instead, I’ve made him repeat after me: I will never force myself upon a woman or a man. It simply isn’t a choice. I’ve gone so far as to tell him that if he rapes somebody, he’ll have to find a new family in prison and that he won’t get to hang out with us anymore. That almost made him cry.

Eventually, we’ll study the rape of Tamar and talk about guilt and jealousy. We’ll look at Jewish law and see how the rabbis approach sexual abuse. And we’ll have conversations about who he needs to be in college, about how I hope he’ll be the one that steps in. That I hope he’ll be the one that tells the asshole at the party to stop acting like such a creep. He’ll be the one, when he eventually visits the alien planet known as college, that will walk the girl home and help her inside and then leave or maybe pass out on the couch if he himself has had too much to drink. These will be the next rounds of conversations. Lest you think I’m acting like a know-it-all, let me tell you that we have no other choice but to have these types of hard conversations.

If I don’t, then I could be that crying mother at the police station saying to the officers: No. It can’t be–I raised him with values. We’re a nice family. He’s such a nice boy.

Here's the problem with how she is teaching her son about rape:

"It’s a solemn conversation. He doesn’t say much, and I can tell he’s confused. And I realize, in the context of our conversations, that his awakening sexuality is, in fact, linked to the act of rape. These two things are merged together for him, in part because of the close proximity of Steubenville, in part because of the emergence of naked bodies all over campus, and in part, because it seemed like the right conversation to have, for now."

She is teaching him about rape in such a way that is becoming wrapped up in his sexuality. That is an extremely unhealthy and possibly dangerous thing to teach him. The OP's blog post is justified in it's critique. 

Also, the whole anti-rape mantras thing and making him cry by telling him he's going to need a new family if he rapes someone. Ye shall know them by their fruits.


SuperChicken
by on Sep. 10, 2013 at 5:18 PM
1 mom liked this

I disagree.   I don't see anything to become a basket case in boys learning that THEY and THEY ALONE are responsible for their own actions.   That the way a girl dresses, or flirts with them, or drinks, or has sex with an entire basketball team and the cheerleaders too, doesn't mean he gets to have sex with her without her explicit consent.  

And clearly this is something that boys are not being taught.   Boys SHOULD know it's wrong to rape, but clearly they don't.  They call it sex, they say "she was drunk, what does she expect," they brag about it and they send their friends pictures of them doing it.   Too many boys don't know what is rape.  Too many think rape is only when you drag a screaming and fighting girl off in the woods and threaten her with a knife or gun to force violent sex on her.     They need to be taught better.


Quoting AlekD:

The point I was trying to make is that, whenever the topic comes up, people like to make the argument that women don't need to be taught to take precautions against rape, we just need to spend more time teaching men not to rape. In reality though, it isn't as if rapists just don't happen to know that rape is bad, like no one ever told them. They just don't care. Of course guys should know it's wrong to rape, but sitting there drilling it into them is just going to make them into basket cases, as this article says. 

Quoting SuperChicken:

Ummm, yes, it is "fair" and "healthy" to teach boys not to rape.   One doesn't need to be a demented lunatic about it, but there's nothing wrong with telling boys they are responsible for their own actions no matter how drunk or otherwise incapacitated a girl is.



 

Aestas
by Gold Member on Sep. 10, 2013 at 5:19 PM

The only part of the blog post the OP is talking about that I disagree with is the bit about finding "a new family in prison." But I understand what the author was trying to do--to drive home the point that rape is truly unacceptable. Too many families will stand by boys and men who are abusive or violent, enabling them. So I get her train of thought, but don't like the delivery.

I don't have sons, but if I did, I'd be teaching them mostly the same things I teach my daughters: that physical intimacy should feel good for both people, not bad. That you should never do anything you don't want to do, and if someone tries to pressure or force you to do something you don't want to do, that's not your fault. And it's never okay to pressure or force anyone else. Right now, my oldest is five, so the age-appropriate version of this conversation is about respecting others' personal space, keeping our hands to ourselves, good touch and bad touch, and how to ask for help is someone is doing something you don't like. 

That conversation would be the same for boys or girls at this age. As they get older, though, my approach would start to differ based on the different kinds of social pressures boys and girls face. Both girls and boys might feel pressure to do things they don't want to do, but boys are more likely to feel pressure to be pushy, and girls are more likely to feel pressure to allow themselves to be pushed. What I would want both to understand is that girls are not the gatekeepers of sexuality, and sex isn't something boys "get" from girls. It is a mutual exchange, and it should always be respectful and caring, whether it's a one-night stand or a life partner.

I'll try to instill the confidence and self-assurance in my girls to help them express not only what they don't want, but also what they do want, and to not be afraid to do so clearly. That wanting sexual intimacy does not make them "sluts," and that anyone who would push them or make them uncomfortable is not worth their time. I'd teach boys that a lack of "no" is not "yes," that it's important to always pay attention to body language and signals that help you read how someone is feeling, and that it's okay to stop and ask if you're unsure, but it's not okay to continue if you think the other person might be less than thrilled about what's happening. I'd also teach boys that it's okay if you don't want sex, even if your friends are all doing it. It's okay to be nervous and unsure. It's okay to say "stop" or "no." But it isn't okay, for boys or girls, to ignore someone else's "no," even if that "no" is quiet, uncertain, or even non-verbal. I'd teach them to speak up if they see others disrespecting people's boundaries in any way. And I'd teach both boys and girls that if someone else violates your boundaries, it is never, ever your fault, no matter what.

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