I’m Doing My Best Not To Raise Rapists

In addition to talking to my kids about the birds and the bees, I’ve also talked to them about rape. I’m doing my best not to raise boys who are rapists. We’ve all had THE TALK with our preteens and teens. What we expect from them in regard to their sexual activity, how to protect themselves from STDs and pregnancy, what we as parents consider appropriate or inappropriate behavior regarding their sexuality, where babies come from, all those sometimes cringe-worthy topics of conversations we all subject our kids to in order to educate them about sex and share our own moral views. Whether you are pushing abstinence or are taking a more liberal view in regard to what you are telling your kids, I urge every parent to start adding rape information to these talks. The statistics are staggering.

From TeenHelp.com:

 Of female Americans who are raped, 54 percent of them experience this type of sexual abuse for the first time before they are 18.

Teenagers account for 51% of all reported sexual abuse.

In July, when a thread on the popular website Reddit about men and teens admitting to raping women and girls became news, I read the articles and the Reddit thread  and even though I found myself horrified at the information I was reading, the reasons that the men gave for being rapists made me question whether we are doing enough as parents to fully explain to our kids why certain behaviors are wrong. The excuses the rapists gave on the Reddit thread are terrifying.

I was a freshman and hooking up with this girl who got naked in bed with me, then said no. I think she just wanted to do oral. I was extremely horny and already close to doing it, so I ignored her and did it. She realized what was happening and tried to clamp her legs shut, but it was too late and I was much stronger than her.

Most girls don’t really understand how horny guys are, how much stronger guys are, how guys will rationalize what they do. I see feminists and women on the Internet saying that no means no and women should be able to get as drunk as they want and not be sexually assaulted.

Terrifying, and enlightening. And it’s all too easy to see a lot of teen boys making the same excuses, the same rationales as to why they feel it’s okay to rape.

I think the majority of parents talk to their daughters about rape, how they can protect themselves in social situations, how “no means no”, how to fight back if they are ever accosted in a dark alley, but the majority of parents don’t sit down with their boys and tell them “Don’t be a rapist.”

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  • The Real Kelly

    Amen! It is such an awful and awkward subject to broach with boys but if not the parents, then who? TV, movies, music, video games (those last two especially) are NOT sending them the right message. Also, can my daughters date your sons?

    • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

      awwww, you are one of my have moms ever.

  • bessie.viola

    Thank you. This is such an important conversation – I have a 4yr old DD and am due in December with a little boy. We have started the conversations with my DD about what’s private, what no one can touch, and about a few other small things like periods (she is utterly unfazed by it, and that was my goal – to make it a normal conversation) but I’ve only just begun to explore what my conversations with my son may be in this post-Penn State world. I’m terrified for both of them – and I promise I will teach him how to respect women the way his daddy does.

    • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

      Agreed. I think it’s a very vital conversation. we tell our kids not to drink and drive, not to do drugs, not to cheat on tests. We should add don’t rape to it. Thank you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/courtney.wooten Courtney Lynn

    Very, very great article! I’m going to print it to keep for my son when he’s older. I’m going to share this with my husband, too. He keeps telling our infant son that he will be teaching him to respect women.

    • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

      awww, that’s sooo important. When men speak out against rape it has a really big impact on boys. I love when male celebrities talk about it, because I think the more open we are about the issue, the better.

    • http://www.facebook.com/courtney.wooten Courtney Lynn

      I agree!

  • guest

    Thank you! I’m the future mother of a boy and I think about these things constantly. I often feel that we, as a society, are much more concerned about female sexual behavior–to the point that there’s a lot of information on teaching girls about sexuality, from assault to reproduction, but there’s less on teaching boys.

  • To Celebrate Women

    You know, it sounds so basic, and I think if you asked a lot of guys if they would commit rape they would say “Of course not”, but a lot of people simply don’t understand how wide a category sexual assault is. It’s important to educate young people on these issues from an early age. Don’t forget that girls can also commit sexual assault – they need the conversation, too.

  • Another Steph

    This is so timely, the other day I was chatting to a friend who had a baby girl and she was saying that mothers of sons don’t have to worry about their little girl getting pregnant. I replied, “No, we worry about our sons being rapists.”

    • LiteBrite

      We also have to worry about our sons getting some girl pregnant. Unfortunately, a lot of parents of boys think they’re off the hook when it comes to issues of protecting themselves against pregnancy, rape, etc, and that’s simply not true. The conversations we need to have with our sons about these topics have a slightly different context, but they are no less important.

    • LiteBrite

      I’ve heard people say that too. Unfortunately, a lot of parents think that with boys they off the hook on having conversations about pregnancy, rape, etc. Wrong. While the context for boys may be slightly different the conversations are no less important. No, I don’t have to worry about my son actually getting pregnant; however, I have to worry about him getting someone pregnant, and to me that makes him just as responsible as the girl or woman.

    • LiteBrite

      Ack! Sorry for the double-post here! My original post wasn’t displaying, so I thought it didn’t take.

  • Kim G.

    Awesome article. I’ve thought about how I’ll talk to my two toddlers about sexual abuse, as well as making sure respecting women is a top priority in our home, but never thought about specifically discussing “don’t rape”. Gives me something to think about and reminds me how necessary it is to have these discussions. You can’t just hope these things don’t happen and it was naive of me to think I could.

  • Jessica

    I forget where I heard of this (Dan Savage, maybe), but there’s a new movement to shift the language from ‘no means no’ to ‘yes means yes.’ That is, that both partners should give and receive explicit consent rather than relying on the other to correctly read body language and avoid similar grey areas of miscommunication regarding consent vs. non-consent. Of course, a ‘no’ should absolutely always be respected as well. I don’t think that asking ‘are you okay with this?’ before proceeding is a bad idea or that it would detract from enjoyment of the experience.

  • guest

    This is something I think about a lot even though my son is a toddler. It’s hard as a mother to feel like your child’s sexual education is “out of your hands” and more the father’s role, when I keenly want to be able to instruct my child on enthusiastic consent, that pornography does not depict realistic sex, etc etc. I’m not sure I completely trust my husband to get these points across the way I would, but at the same time I don’t think any young boy wants to hear any of those words from his mother. So difficult to navigate!

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  • Kate

    This is an excellent article! I have several friends who have been raped and/or sexually assaulted, and I think this is important. Rape is a horrible thing, but our society tends to do this thing where we turn the people who commit rape into monsters. Yes, sometimes they are, but sometimes they are just criminals. And by turning all rapists into monsters we make it impossible to accept that sometimes “good” people can commit rape, whether by accident, intentionally, or just in the moment. Allowing ourselves to talk about it as humans allows us to actually consider solutions. Although, I might also add that boys can be raped as well and so it might be worthwhile to consider talking to your *daughters* as well about coercing boys or drunk boys into sex.

    Excellent article!

    • katy

      This is rape apologist nonsense. We consider rapists monsters because they are monsters. Also, so cute how you blame women there Kate. Way to shit on fellow woken and show yourself for the hollow, self centered bitch you are. If you get raped will you apply the same logic to yourself, sweetheart?

  • http://www.facebook.com/paul.white.3532507 Paul White

    That’s a conversation I’m absolutely terrified of having but will have anyway.

  • sweet tooth

    so we don”t care about making sure our girls don’t rape people and that our boys don’t get raped?
    good to know, guess I’ll be by your house in my ice cream truck

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  • Andy

    Um… hang on a sec. If a young girl is dressing provactively at a school, and your 9 year old calls her a skank… as well as teaching him about peoples inherent worth, shouldn’t you also be talking to the school about a dress code policy that doesn’t encourage young impressionable boys and girls to be judgemental?

    This is one area where I disagree with your assessment of the situation.

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  • Alogon

    SO much talk about respecting women but none about respecting men. It’s a two-way street and I see an awful lot of disrespect and violence towards men. Even insisting that rape is somehow all on man and boys, ignoring that men and boys are raped too (and often by persons in authority like female teachers), acting as though women have no responsibility to ensure their own safety, it smells a lot like misandry and is disrespectful and leads to distrust and hatred of men. Just this idea that you have to “raise your boys not to be rapist”, it’s sick. It’s like you believe that these boys will just go out and rape because of their maleness. Even the women here who says she “doesn’t trust” her husband to properly teach her son about sex and women – what makes her an authority more so than her husband. You women here seem to think men are stupid, brutish and predisposed to rape every women. My god, don’t flatter yourselves, the overwhelming majority of men are caring people who protect women and we aren’t interested in raping you. Just teach your male and female children how to respect other people and themselves.
    I don’t see anything here that sympathizes or even cares about the men and boys who are raped or beaten by women. You have been misled to believe that rape is such an epidemic, to feel like you are always a victim-in-waiting and all this crap does is feed feminist organization’s coffers and leads to men and women distrusting and hating each other. It’s just not the case, most men love women and a lot of have died proving it.
    Let’s just raise good people who treat others the way they would like to be treated.

    • Tierney May

      Don’t “flatter” ourselves with the idea that someone would want to rape us? Wow. The point is to raise young men who have respect for themselves and others. It’s not telling them that they will rape, it’s telling them to resist the messages that say it’s ok to treat women (or possible sexual partners in general) as objects. And when someone sees another as an object, devoid of feelings and autonomy, then where does that lead? Do you think those Stubenville boys thought, at the time, that they were raping that girl? No, I’m sure they thought they were just being boys, that it was all good fun, and that they were allowed to treat her as an object. If they were taught differently, would they have behaved in such a way? I doubt it. And rape is an epidemic. Against males and females. It sucks that male victims are ignored or pushed to the side. It’s not fair, and it fucking sucks. But a quarter of women will experience rape or attempted rape. And much of it stems from the idea that we are not whole people, or that we are incapable of knowing what we really want. We’re infantilized and sexualized in a way that most men are not. And that’s not all men’s fault. In fact, it’s not the fault of hardly any man, but the fault of society. And if teaching our sons respect and to not rape, but have and give consent is misandry? I’ll wear that shoe, for the sake of my son.

    • Ricardo Aguilera

      ….how about we teach people the true statistics of rape victims and that most rapist come from single mother households and typically have been raped by a parent of said single mother household. Lets teach mothers to stop raping their sons who later on become the rapist you conflate manhood with.

    • Tierney May

      Please provide the source where you supposedly got these numbers from, because they go against the multitude of studies about offenders. Also, I don’t :conflate” men with rapists. Perhaps try reading again?

    • katy

      He’s a typical MRA sleezebag. Ignore.

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  • Ricardo Aguilera


    Boys and men are not by default “rapist”, by saying we need to teach them not to rape you make it sound like rape is a inherent quality in maleness that needs to be conditioned out. Similar to training a dog to not repeat a behaviour that comes natural to him, you are in essence saying boys are naturally predisposed to rape and that they need to be steered away from it because clearly they are following their natural instincts.

    Problem with this is that men are not rapist by design, rapist are criminals who choose to become rapist. It’s no different then saying we need to teach black people to become theives or break into cars. Rapist are rapist and know rape is a crime…plz stop conflating maleness with evil.

    • katy

      Please go back to your MRA hole. Were sick of adult male whiners and apologists like you. All this woman said is that she wants to teach her boys respect. Any boy can go too far. You are just being pathetic by complaining about what this woman wrote.

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  • katy

    Dan Savage is a sleezebag who hates women. He couldn’t care less about rape and is one of the WORST people to get sexual advice from.