No Means No

While driving to work this morning, I listened to the Russ Parr Morning Show during the People Poll question segment.  (I’m a notorious channel surfer.)  The question dealt with the recent news surrounding former NFL player Darren Sharper, who has been accused of sexual assault on a total of nine women in five different states; so far he’s only been formally charged in two states-most recently Arizona-with charges pending in other states, along with Erick Nunez. There are even reports that state some of these women were drugged.  Parr asked, “Do women bare some of the responsibility if they are sexually assaulted?”  I genuinely wanted to hear what people thought, so my ears perked up.  And I was shocked at what I heard.

Most of the callers, especially the women, stated that women do bare some of the responsibility if they are sexually assaulted.  I.was.floored.  I was even more shocked when a victim of sexual assault called in and said she deserved to shoulder some of the responsibility of her attack.  The only person who said anything that made any type of sense was the show’s “intern”, Brittany.  If a woman is drunk, has been drugged, or is otherwise incoherent, she cannot consent, and thus anything that happens to her is rape.

Now, let’s chat for a minute.  Growing up, heck even now at 31 years old, my mother told me to always be careful, be extra cautious when I’m out by myself, and to not go out alone at night.  Essentially, she was telling me to never make myself a target for a predator.  Now, since I am not a parent and I don’t have any brothers, I wonder what the parents of sons are teaching them.  Are they being told to respect women?  To not take advantage of women?  To not attack them?  To leave a woman alone when she says “no”, REGARDLESS of what is being done when she says it OR what she has on?

As I’ve stated in a previous post, we live in a patriachal society, so I doubt it.  At least not to the degree that little girls/women are told to not make themselves a target.  Not to the degree that we are told to not dress provocatively.  Not to the degree that we are told to behave like a lady to not give people the wrong impression.

If I can make an educated guess, little boys/young men are taught to be assertive, go-getters, and to weild as much power and prowess as they can.  And due to no limitations being put on them, they are used to getting what they want.  They are not used to hearing “no”.  And God forbid he’s an athlete AND attractive.  That’s a recipe for disaster.  He’s used to getting what he wants-the girl, the (fixed) grades, the acceptance letter to a big college, and the chance to go pro.

Clearly non-professional athletes are guilty of sexual assault as well.  But some men like to feel powerful.  And when someone, anyone, wants to take that power away, they feel threatened.  And a huge disservice is being done when we make our children think they can get whatever they want.  Why?  Because they become adults who think they can get whatever they want and will take it, regardless of what has to be done to get it.

A friend on Facebook once updated her status to say that we teach our girls about sexual assault and how to avoid it, but are boys taught the same thing?  If not, I implore parents of young men to sit your sons down and talk to them.  Tell them that when a young lady says “no” she means “no”.  Tell them they can’t always get what they want.  Tell them how to protect themselves and to not put themselves in a compromising position.

Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

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