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Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

To the parents of a rapist

March 11, 2014

Oh, hallowed halls of enlightened education

Oh, hallowed halls of enlightened education

I’ve been following the story out of Dartmouth about a female student who was raped shortly after her name appeared in a “Rape Guide” posted on an anonymous Dartmouth student blog. There is so much that’s vile about the particulars of this case and the overall campus (and national) culture that permits and promotes these attitudes and acts, I do not know where to begin. As a parent educator, this feels like a logical place:

Dear Mom and Dad,

By now you know that your son is a rapist. Of course you are shocked that the young man you raised with such love and care and attention, the one who succeeded so brilliantly throughout his school years that he ended up at Dartmouth, is now revealed to you, your family and all your friends as a violent, callous person. A rapist. Not a word anyone wants on their son’s resume. And not only is he a rapist, but he has been encouraging his classmates to be rapists.

How heart-sick you must be. Undoubtedly you remember how thrilled you were when the Dartmouth letter of acceptance arrived. You celebrated, as a family. You had such dreams for your son. And now, you find that he’s been spending time, in between classes and study sessions, writing a “Rape Guide,” using his considerable verbal skills (showcased in those outstanding SAT scores) to craft descriptive prose like this: “Increase the alcohol you give her each time. Then one such day, go for it. Preferably, invite her to your room. Get touchy with her, she likes that. As you guys get drunker… maybe spank her, you know, “jokingly” of course. She might be reluctant. Just tell her to relax.  Keep on going. Start groping her and stripping her down. Does this sound rapey? It really isn’t, trust me. She just likes playing hard to get. I know. I’ve been there.”

My heart goes out to you because you are suffering. You must be grieving for the loss of your “ideal” son. You must also be absolutely baffled that your boy could be such a calculatingly, cold-hearted misogynist. And through the blizzard of your emotions and disbelief, you are probably wracking your brains looking for answers to these questions: What did I do wrong? How could my son have thought that rape was OK? How is it possible that he could have such little regard for the feelings of another person? How could my child, who grew up in this family, believe that he and his fellow male classmates have the right to treat women with such contempt? Where did he get these values? What do I say to him now? How can I look at him without utter disgust? What can he say or do that will make this better?

I usually have lots of answers for parenting questions. I don’t have any answers for these.

Please get some family counseling. You’re going to need it.

I wish you strength during this terrible time. You’re going to need plenty of that too.

Filed under: Cruel's Not Cool,Parenting,Social Justice — Tags: , , , — Annie @ 1:13 pm

What do you tell your kids about rape?

February 15, 2011

Last Friday, Lara Logan was doing her job as a journalist covering the Egyptian revolution. The 60 Minutes correspondent and her crew were in the midst of unprecedented joy overflowing in Tahrir Square as hundreds of thousands of anti-Mubarak protestors celebrated a new reality. We are free! WE ARE FREE!

Every TV journalist reporting from the scene used the word “jubilant.” Strong word. Intense emotion. But not hyperbole. Jubilation is precisely the word to describe liberation from oppression. The end of living in fear.

Lara Logan must have felt it too. How could you be there and not feel it? But then Lara Logan’s jubilation became something very different, when according to this statement from CBS News “…she and her team and their security were surrounded by a dangerous element amidst the celebration. It was a mob of more than 200 people whipped into frenzy. In the crush of the mob, she was separated from her crew. She was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers.”

About an hour ago I read about the rape… enough of this “sexual assault” stuff, let’s call it by it’s most vile name. Immediately anxiety kicked in and I felt a sickly cold heaviness. I feel it still. If you’re a woman you exactly know what I’m talking about. Even if you’ve never been raped, you know. If you’re a man who’s never been raped, you can’t know this kind of fear… not the way women know it.

My thoughts are with Lara Logan and her family, her friends, her colleagues and her crew who couldn’t help her… God what they must be feeling!

Lara’s our sister and because of what was done to her we are all suffering. We are all feeling less jubilant. Less liberated. Less free from fear.

What do you tell your tween and teen daughters about rape? What do you tell your sons? What’s that? You say you’ve never had one of those conversations? What are you waiting for?

Filed under: Parenting — Tags: , , , , , — Annie @ 5:34 pm
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