Rape Culture is real. And rape culture teaches our kids that an absence of ‘no’ is an implied ‘yes.’ Think, for one minute, how many people think it’s ok to cut off part of a guy’s penis simply because he’s a baby and won’t remember. Simply because he can’t say ‘no.’
And violating consent doesn’t stop there.
My son is two. He likes his friends. He is very social and kind and he shares without be prompted. I hear him offering his friends turns on his bike or giving them part of his favourite snack all on his own. He also likes to give hugs.
And I think most people would see a child who is affectionate as something that is cute and sweet and sociable.Which it is, when everyone involved wants to be hugged and touched. If they don’t, we have a problem.
Yesterday my son had a friend over, and as they were leaving he asked for a hug. His friend, a girl, did not want to give him a hug. I heard her dad try to persuade her, and he even said, ‘One day you’ll like hugs from boys.’ (Facepalm with me please.)
I said, ‘If your friend doesn’t want a hug, that’s her choice. We don’t force hugs on our friends unless they want them. Maybe you can give her a high five?’
The two toddlers willingly and enthusiastically gave each other high fives.
We teach our sons not to rape by teaching them that they have the right to give or receive hugs, but so do all of their friends. Affection is only “cute” when it’s consensual. We teach our children that they are the ones who choose when to show affection. We teach our children to respect the autonomy of their friends. We teach them that yes means yes and everything else means no.
We say it over and over, “If your friend doesn’t want a hug, that’s her choice.” So that when they’re six or ten or fifteen or thirty-five, they know, unless it’s an enthusiastic YES, it’s an implied no.