Thursday, June 09, 2016

Rules for Kissing: Raising Boys in a Rape Culture

Tonight, as I drove the boys to scouts, I told my oldest son about the first time their father kissed me, and how afterwards, we made rules about our physical relationship. We had curfews, times to be with others, and focused on our friendship. We did this simply because our values and goals were such that we needed to follow a very rigid law of chastity (only rigid according to society, but not that difficult to live according to our own experience). I explained that because of our respect and love for each other, we helped one another maintain the standards that were so highly important to both of us. This led to greater love, respect, and a better relationship between the two of us, and our marriage began on very good footing.

I've been trying to teach my boys about chastity, control, and rape, mostly because of the recent rape case that has the country on fire. (I don't even have to link to it, because unless you've been living in a cave, you know what I'm referring to. If you don't, just google Stanford, swim, rape, and what the?!!?) I want my boys to understand that the only way rape can be prevented is if people stop raping. I want them to respect all people --siblings, parents, friends, romantic partners, spouses, children, strangers --everyone. I have been trying to teach them about how to refrain from exercising force and control over another person (unless in self-defense). I want them to know true chivalry. I want them to protect and love women and children --I want them to become good, strong, kind, Godly men.

I want them to be like the two men who caught that vile rapist and held him until the police arrived.

In fact, one part of our conversation was like this (I included all the boys in this one):
Me: "Boys, are men stronger than women?"
"Sometimes." "Yes!" "Very!"
Me: "Well, not always, but in some ways they can be much stronger. How?"
"Well, boys are bigger and have more muscles and so they can be lots stronger than girls. They can lift bigger stuff." "Like, dad can lift heavier things than you."
"Does that mean men have the right to use their strength to hurt women? Or say they're better?"
"What are men supposed to do with their physical strength when it comes to girls?"
My 11 year old: "...Protect them?"
Me: "YES! Men are to use their strength to protect women --not hurt them. Ever."

It isn't difficult to teach respect. What's difficult is un-teaching disrespect. Once prejudice, racism, bigotry, misogyny, entitlement, selfishness, and enmity is taught, it's so difficult to overcome. It's possible! But it's hard. Very hard.

It's so much easier to teach respect, service, love, patience, kindness, humility, and gratitude from the get-go. Not every person is going to turn out perfectly and yes, we all have our issues, but it's a really wide road between learning respect and loving others to raping unconscious women in the street.

Honestly, I'm not surprised at our rape culture. We have generations of people who have been raised on pornography. Women are still seen as objects to be owned. Men are told to give into their lusts. Women are told they are only worth anything if they're sexual and look a certain way; they are only worth something when they act like objects to be used. Our culture embraces sex and lust and laughs at people like my husband and I --people who weren't lying when they said they were virgins when they married. We're seen as sexually-deprived and naive.

Well, the joke's on them! Because the law of chastity works, dear reader. When it is taught correctly and then exercised without coercion, it really does work. (Caveat: only when both partners believe in it and have a mutual love and respect for each other and God. Abusers and liars are the exception and deserve every imaginable hell.) It's almost like insurance. We pay the price of patience, respect, kindness, loyalty, fidelity, and self-control. Then we receive an intimate, sacred, amazing relationship that brings deep, eternal, incredible joy.

I've never had to worry about an STD. I've never had an unwanted pregnancy. I've never regretted a sexual encounter. I just haven't. And look, I'm not saying that people who have had those things are somehow less than me or worse than me or whatever --that's not what I'm saying at all. I'm saying that the rule, no matter how many exceptions exist, actually makes sense!

Think about it! If every person was raised to respect others and reserve sex for a committed (preferably marriage) relationship where a pregnancy would always be welcome, what would happen to the sexual slavery industry? The pornography industry? The rape culture? (Heavens, the abortion industry?!) What if every man was taught how to exercise self-control and was taught how to respect and love the women in their lives in a way that left them with nothing but good thoughts and kind feelings? Rape would cease to exist, dear reader. It wouldn't' even be on the multiple choice test, because it wouldn't occur to men to do something so evil. It wouldn't even be on their radar to exercise their sexuality in such a controlling, dominating way because the idea would be ludicrous to them. What's amazing is that men like this exist! Women, too! We exist because we were raised like this. 

Dear reader, we are more than our sexuality. Yes, sexuality is a facet of who we are because we are mortal human beings. Sexuality also has to be more than procreation because it affects even those who do not procreate. However, our society has decided that our sexuality needs to be at the forefront of everything we do and everything we are. We are being told that if we're not sexual, we're not normal; if we're not sexual we're repressing our true selves. Society has decided that if we don't make our sexuality the very definition of who we are (ignoring talents, personality, likes/dislikes, opinions, education, and platonic relationships), then we are doing something wrong. Sex education (comprehensive, invasive, pornographic) is being spoon-fed to children as young as 5. Sexual expression is encouraged on every side as the solution to rape, low self-esteem, suicide, and broken families. The irony comes when science and studies show that this embracing of sexual freedom is what caused the pornography epidemic, and the pornography epidemic is what has caused our rape culture. Don't believe me? Here's a study that links porn to sexual slavery. Here's a link that connects porn to escalating violence (like child abuse). Here's a link that shows the connection between "the right to view sex" (that would be porn) and our rape culture.

It doesn't take a genius to see that watching and reading things that make people objects of sexual desire changes the way the reader/watcher views real people. It's a mess, dear reader. (And yet those like me --the prudish, chaste, happily married --are being touted as the evil ones. It's pure insanity!)

The good part about this is that there is a chance to make a difference. We can fight against the violence and the warped sexual fantasies and the rape culture we live in. But we can't fight it until we admit that it exists, and we can't fight it if we just look the other way. If we don't teach our children about this, they won't be able to take a stand against it.

As for me, I'm glad I married a man who saw the simple expression of a kiss as something special, who asked me to make rules with him about our physical relationship before we were in a position to truly express it safely, freely, and without regret. I'm forever grateful I married a man whose love for me as a person exceeded his love for my physical body. And I'm sincerely grateful we have the chance to teach these things to four boys who will, hopefully and God willing, become good, kind, respectful men -- just like their father.

Father's Day 2015