Things You *Really* Shouldn’t Say To Your Kids

I just read this blog post over at Abandoning Pretense in which Kristen Mae gives the thumbs down to all those “Things You Should Never Say to Your Kids” lists floating about, and I was like, “Whew! Thank God someone is letting me off the hook.” I’m all for people pursuing positive parenting with patience and aplomb (sorry, got a little carried away with the alliteration there), but never? NEVER?

“Never” reinforces this sort of oops-you-did-this-BUZZ!-now-you’re-a-terrible-parent vibe that I’m basically totally sick of. Like, I’m barfing guilt already, people. Let’s take it easy. Kristen sums up my feelings at the end:

Most of us are working really hard at being the best parents we can be, and we’re doing a pretty bang-up job of it, too. We are good parents.

Yeah. So take that, internet jerks.

That said, there really ARE some things you probably shouldn’t say to your kids. I’ll list them out, in case you’re just about to say any of this. It takes a village, after all.

Word Graphic - Things You Really Shouldn't Say to Your Kids

Things You *Really* Shouldn’t Say to Your Kids

1. Finish your cocaine or I’ll feed you to my shark.

2. I regret letting the aliens drink your blood every night. Tuesdays? Yes. Every night? Too much.

3. Sometimes I watch you sleeping at night and just cry. Oh, no…not in the good way.

4. Heads up: I’m gonna be real drunk at this parent/teacher conference.

5. Wanna take the cinnamon challenge?

6. Take the cinnamon challenge or I’ll feed you to my shark.

7. Hold this land mine real quick.

8. I wish you were more like your sister, if your sister was like someone else’s kid.

9. Hey! That stove is hot! Ehhh…go ahead. We have insurance.

10. Feed my shark or I’ll feed you to my shark.

If you’re saying any of those things, you probably are a terrible parent. Take your internet shame, you! Take it and like it!

p.s. you’re subscribed to Abandoning Pretense, right? Because you should NEVER tell your kid not to subscribe to Abandoning Pretense.

The Parent Olympics Storified (& Stanley Broke the Internet)

First things first; The Parent Olympics were awesome. I think most of you were out having Pho and planning your gubernatorial campaigns, so live viewing was a touch on the skim side. Not to worry though, folks; I storified it. Now that you have a full belly and a clear campaign strategy, hop over to Storify.com and check it out.

ParentOlympicsStorifiedScreenCap

My favorite moment? This one:

FavoritePOMoment

Plus all of this awesome stuff:

Seriously, go see the whole shebang. Good times. Jerrod was an amazing co-host, and made the event that much better. Really that’s a compliment for me—I make awesome decisions. High five, me.

Less awesome were the antics of Stanley, the horribly obnoxious internet drunk. Oh, Stanley, I could just punch you in the mouth.

See, what happened readers—and you may have noticed this last night—is that Stanley hopped on my computer while I was participating in my own Parent Olympics. And wow—can that dumb guy screw stuff up. In the process of posting and unposting the Storify version, posts were pushed to the blog, and then pushed to Facebook, AND Twitter, AND LinkedIn, AND (I assume) Barack Obama got copies of them. Because the internet is tricky, drunken Stanley published a couple of posts with just a link, some with some jibberish-looking code, and one with a selfie of him after he abandoned his pants. (Gross, Stanley.)

The lesson? Don’t let a drunk/angry/possibly imaginary old man get his hands on the internet. You know he’s just gonna break it.

So sorry for that, you all. Stanley is terrible and we should ALL punch him in the mouth. I may have bore the tiniest bit of responsibility in the whole debacle, so please accept my apologies as well. But mostly let’s get really angry at Stanley.

p.s. When I was all stressed about the social media cacophony emanating from my blog, I did what any reasonable person would do: watched internet videos of cats. It was almost worth the stress and frustration to come across these gems. (ht Cute Overload)

The Parent Olympics

Two weeks ago the winter Olympics opened with great fanfare, and athletes from all over the globe gathered to have their skills tested and their hard work put on display. They squinted their eyes as their grit and determination pushed them toward medal podium. They held their breath, wondering if it was worth sacrificing so much for the love of the games.

Simultaneously, another Olympics carried on, the opening ceremonies for which are held daily as tiny feet march down the hall, ready to break even the strongest competitor. The competitions are held in living rooms, bedrooms, family vans, and playgrounds. These games have no end, and no real winner—only survivors. They are…

The Parent Olympics

Tonight at 5 PST/7 Central, Jerrod from Never Had One Lesson (@jerrodkc) and I (@HelloMelanieC) will bring you live coverage of the games on Twitter. So stay tuned for such events as:

• The Bedtime Sneak-and-Crawl

• The Get Anywhere on Time, and

• The 30-minute Clean Shirt Event

Are you a parent warming up for your next event? A relative watching a brutal tumble? An innocent bystander now covered in ice cream after a mini mall meltdown? Join us: #ParentOlympics

See you in the arena.

background image in graphic by John Keogn via Flickr licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic

Good Morning, Snuggles

I have about eight—drat, no, seven—minutes to pound this out. Seven minutes to cobble some words together and jam them onto this screen here, and hope they make some kind of sense. Tick tock. No pressure.

It’s been a while. Things in my life are basically freaking bananas all the time. I had another kid last year, (hence the pregnancy post) and I’ll be damned if that doesn’t just suck all time and energy right out of your life. I mean, sucking like a vacuum in a cartoon where all the forest animals and leaves and pine needles and newspapers and old people get sucked into it. Like that.

When this new lil’ babe was born, beneath the torrential avalanche of need, I extended myself a little rope, tied to the boat of sanity. That rope was this: you can’t do much more than this, Melanie. You just can’t. You’ve got two people that need you all the freaking time, the idea of “me time” is laughable, and parenting is about as easy as threading a needle with an invisible worm. So to make it I had to let go of my dream to-do list, and pare it down to something simpler. It turned out about like this:

• Get out of bed

• Survive 10 hours until Stephen comes home

• Do not slap strangers as a result of exhaustion and anxiety

• Hug the girls really and truly at least once a day

• Don’t stress-eat all the food in San Diego

It’s a pretty limited list, but I know it’s within my capabilities, though just barely.

(Crap, I’m out of time, you all.)

So, good morning, Snuggles. I’m still here and alive and I still want to write and I want to hug your blessed little faces with my thought pukes. Even if it’s only seven minutes at a time.

Five and a Half Tips for Surviving Your New Baby

So you’re having a baby! Huzzah! Soon you will have the minor task of being solely responsible for the health and well-being of an entirely helpless, dependent human. Don’t freak! I’ve got five and a half top-shelf tips to get you on your way. Like so:

Clean That Thing Off

If you’ve grown your baby in your very own uterus, have someone clean it off before they thrust it on you for the first time. Newly minted babies are gross (truth), and your affection for them is what keeps you from abandoning them in the forest like a spooked mama fox. Don’t let your first remark about your little rascal be, “Ick.” Give yourself the upper hand and have someone give that kid a good once-over with a towel.

The Puke Luge™

Baby Puke on the Couch

The night before this happened we were like, “Hey, should we scotch guard the couch?” and then we were like, “Nah, that’s a lot of work and the can says we’ll probably blow up our house.” Then I didn’t use the Puke Luge™.

Babies like to puke up a lot of the food you so carefully funnel into their little gullets. Prime targets for said puke are the third shirt you’ve put on that day, and your newly cleaned couch.

To avoid both scenarios, use my patented 2-step Puke Luge™ solution. First, don’t burp the baby over your shoulder rather, hold the baby upright on your lap, holding a burp cloth beneath her little chinny-chin-chin (fig. A). Then, place the other end of the burp cloth on a pillow next to you (fig. B). This creates the luge track on which your baby’s puke will be safely corralled, shirts and furniture left unsoiled.Puke Luge

The Baby Straightjacket

Babies like to claw the crap out of their faces, making you look like the Freddy Kruger of parents. Not great. Your options for resolving this are: those baby mittens that stay on for roughly the amount of time it takes a mouse to sneeze; cutting your baby’s nails, which will definitely result in lopping off some of your baby’s finger; or the baby straightjacket (also known as swaddling).

The baby straightjacket is the clear winner, in my opinion. If you can get a nurse to teach you, that’s best (those people do not mess), if not, the Mayo Clinic has some pretty pictures to show you.

Hold on to Those Maternity Clothes

Again, if your baby is grown in your very own body, immediately following birth you’ll be like, “Ohmigosh I’m so skinny!” Then you’ll see a mirror and you’ll be like, “Sixth month of pregnancy redux? What the heck?”

Yes, that’s the dill, Pickle. You’re just gonna have to be okay with it.

If It Seems Weird, Maybe it IS Weird

Babies do all kinds of weird crap, but some of it is normal weird, and some is weird weird. As a new parent, you totally won’t know the difference. (Awesome!)

If something seems weird, check it out. Don’t worry about seeming like an ignorant, overprotective wacko of a parent. You probably are, but don’t worry about it. Most doctor’s offices have a nurse that you can talk to on the phone before racing to the emergency room. Also, Google is pretty good at giving you a little pre-info.

Embracing the I-don’t-know-but-it-seems-weird mantra probably saved my kid’s life, so I’m a fan. (All the credit for that goes to my husband. He’s a better person than I am. (Why am I left alone with the kids again?))

Sub-point: Watch out for Internet Weirdos

Google is great for doing a quick WTF check on lots of stuff. The Mayo Clinic and WebMD are pretty solid resources. However, the internet is chock-full of weirdos because there’s no test you have to pass to spew opinions all over our shared info web. So when you search for “gassy baby,” you’ll inevitably find the person that says, “I gave my baby an enema with a straw and a diet coke.” No thanks, moonbeamdaddy43. We’re gonna pass on that.

Have I left something unaddressed? Well ask away! I’m an internet weirdo with an entire website all to myself, so clearly I’m qualified.

Some People PAY to Raise Children. I Know. It’s Crazy.

Meet our great friends Amy and Paul Reams.

Amy and Paul Reams, their daughter Lucy, and a spot for their soon-to-be adopted kiddo

The Family Reams. Too cute.

Aren’t they the cutest? Like a tiny, furry, baby puppy, I tell you. They’re also talented, and friendly, and a thousand times more thoughtful than I am on my best day. And cute. Did I mention cute? Look at this.

Amy and Paul Reams, tired people working on their adoption

Yeesh. But you can’t hate them for being A+ people. The world needs A+ people. Not everyone can be as delightfully sour and wrinkled of brow as I am—the world needs balance. So for every puckery wiseguy like me, there’s an Amy or Paul to keep the wheels of the universe greased. It’s a magical thing.

And people like Amy and Paul, while also being wonderful and funny and radiant, do other stuff to make the world better. Like paying a crap ton of money to be scrutinized to death so they can get a kid that will eventually, most likely, smack them in the face. Or puke on them. Or whatever crazy thing the kid is going to do. Because ALL kids are crazy, no matter what.

That’s right, people like Amy and Paul adopt.

It’s a bit of a foreign thought to me that people are like, “Sure! I’ll pay twenty grand or so to be judged relentlessly by your adoption agency so I can let a tiny tyrant drive me batty for the foreseeable future.” What the what? And some people say, “Oh, and make sure I get one with Down Syndrome.” Or who’s HIV positive. Or someone whose bio parents abused them and they need help keeping the pieces together.

Any one of those scenarios—even sans-Down Syndrome or HIV or parental abuse—is mildly terrifying to me. So, to pay money for that makes me feel a little panicky/pukey. But not so for the Reams’. In fact, I have quite a few very good friends who have done this same thing. Quite a few! Isn’t that insane?! (Please don’t clue them in to the fact that I’m a queasy scaredy cat. It’s nice having such amazing friends. Don’t mess it up for me, okay?)

So, because the Reams’ are the good kind of crazy, and they want to pay that crap ton of money for another ride on the parenting tilt-o-whirl, Stephen and I are gonna help them out. And I’m gonna invite you to do the same thing. Because it’s fun! And you get to support good crazy people without actually having to be one yourself. (Sooo up my alley.) Plus, one of the ways you can help is just buying coffee, which you were probably going to do anyway, right? You’re out of excuses. Click these links below and go bananas.

Learn about Amy and Paul’s adoption journey

Their blog is fun and witty and totally well written. If you’ve never known anyone that is going through the adoption process, it’s a totally fascinating window into what it’s like. It’ll give you a whole new appreciation for adoptive families. They have a PayPal donation link on the side if you’re the PayPal type.

Buy Coffee, Give the Reams’ Some Bucks

Just Love Coffee is a cool organization that sells coffee, and donates money from each sale to families that are trying to adopt while also providing a living wage for women in developing countries. Pretty nice. Paul and Amy also have someone matching all donations from Just Love Coffee, so for each bag of coffee you buy from their link, they’ll get $10. Awesomesauce.

(UPDATE: Perfect timing: In honor of Memorial Day, Just Love Coffee is giving 10% off orders through May 27th. Use MEM10 during checkout.)

Make a Tax-Deductible Donation to the Reams’ through Lifesong

Use account number 3711 and “Reams Family” on the donation form.

Stephen and I are so honored to have Amy, Paul and their daughter Lucy in our lives, and we can’t wait to meet their new addition when he gets here. If you can help them out, that would be super rad and you’d earn 1000 awesome points from me. Come on. You know you want those awesome points. Get a-goin’. High fives.

Happy Motherhood Survival Day!

someecards.com - Hey Mama, Sorry this cute little thing will smack you in the face one day. Next round's on me.

I just got hit in the face. Hard. Happy Mother’s Day?

Okay, so it’s technically the day before Mother’s Day and I’m being a bit dramatic. But I got hit in the face by my kid real hard, so I kinda think I get a pass.

Now I need to say this: by all accounts, my daughter is a kind, thoughtful, well-behaved child. She’s smart and funny and awesome. I say that not to brag about my kid, but rather just to point out that the best case scenario as a parent is that your kid will be kind, thoughtful, and well-behaved before and after she smacks you in the face.

That’s just parenting. That’s the gig. It’s some kind of insane, child-rearing blood sport. Lord help us.

So let’s buy dumb crap and alienate people!

I read this Salon article by Anne Lamott the other day called, “Why I hate Mother’s Day.” And while I usually just smile too much, nod, and hug my computer screen when I read her work, I sadly have to disagree with this one—at least a little.*

I think Mother’s Day can be kind of stupid and obligatory, but only because we’ve framed it wrong. Mother’s Day isn’t about claiming that mothers are better than other people, or somehow more valuable. They’re not. There are zero requirements to becoming a mother. Stupid people become mothers all the time. Big deal.

I don’t think you somehow become more of a person when you become a mother. Your value is there from day 1. You’re valuable just because, and there’s no amount of marrying or procreation or anything else makes you more legitimate as a person. So we can stop mother worship as a holiday. It creeps me out.

But I kinda need Mother’s Day, okay?

I don’t need pink cards, or flowers, or certainly one of those swoopy necklaces or whatever. It’s not about that to me. You know what it’s about? Survival. I need a day when people that are important to me say, “Hey, I see you over there, and I know you’re just barely making it. Good job and I’m sorry and here’s a beer.”

It should be called “Motherhood Survival Day,” where all mothers are acknowledged not for doing it all right, or being magically worth treasuring, but just for making it through another year. Just for making it through an unending torrent of questions and comments about your daily activities, objections to whatever plans you’ve laid, several-times-daily accidental injuries to your person or property, unbridled emotions and—yes—the occasional southpaw smack to the face.

I come into and out of too many days feeling battered and bruised, not knowing if I can stitch together enough scraps of my remaining sanity to hold myself together. And I’m guessing a lot of mothers feel that way, too.

I’m sorry. I see you. Hang in there.

So, following last year’s tradition, I’ve whipped up a few Mother’s Day greetings for you to use if you wanna keep it real this year. Send and receive them with high fives and snuggles from me, okay? Happy Mother’s Day, mamas.

someecards.com - Hey Mama, Let's call it a win that you haven't pulled out all your hair yet.

someecards.com - Hey Mama, You're makin' exhausted desperation look goooood.

someecards.com - Hey Mama, Thanks for not abandoning me, even though I'm being a little a-hole.

*it should be noted that I love Anne Lamott to freaking bits and if you haven’t read her work you absolutely should. Bird by Bird is an all-time fav of mine (thanks Matt!). Go check her out.

Why You Should Always Give a Pregnant Lady Five Bucks

Next time you see a pregnant lady, you really need to stop and give her five bucks. Why? Well, the short answer is that pregnancy is the freaking worst. THE WORST.

Okay, having your leg chewed off by a bengal tiger is probably pretty bad, too. But pregnancy is freaking awful, and no one comes right out and says that because, well, I think it makes you look like a bad parent or something. But I totally don’t care about that. Let me endure the judgement and describe the terrible catastrophe that is pregnancy. You’re welcome.

Why You Should Always Give A Pregnant Lady Five Bucks

Morning Sickness is a Lie

The term “morning sickness” is about as accurate as “occasional breathing” or “optional heartbeat.” For many, the nausea that comes with your precious bundle of joy happens whenever the crap it wants to, and—blissfully for some—all the live long day. I’ll let you guess which of those things happened to me.

It’s also not some adorable, dainty little queasiness. It’s as if food is now the enemy, and your body will do anything to keep it out of your mouth/stomach/necessary locations for life. I’ve read of women puking 20 times a day. Twenty. Times. Uh, give that lady five bucks.

My nausea was so bad that my doctors gave me a drug that they also give to chemo patients. Because apparently being on chemo and being pregnant have certain similarities. I don’t know why they don’t put that on Hallmark cards. Even that prescription-strength solution didn’t keep this pleasant little conversation from happening in my head several times a day:

I’m going to die. I can’t believe this is how it’s going to end for me. A shriveled, starved mess that can’t get out of bed. Wait, no, you live in California, Melanie. CALIFORNIA. I’m pretty sure there are a few steps between this and death. Right? Of course! They’ll hook you up to IVs and give you nutrients that way! All you need is hospitalization! No. big. deal.

Thankfully it didn’t come to that, though I did ask my husband several times to check into a medically induced coma. I’m still a little mad that he didn’t at least Google it. Right? Right.

“Cravings”? Not Exactly

You always hear those adorable stories of women wanting to eat pickles and ice cream, like that’s the cutest thing ever. The reality? Pickles and ice cream—and other equally absurd food choices—may be the only thing your body will accept. So, if the choice is between the aforementioned hospitalization and, say, shrimp-flavored Cup O’ Noodle and instant mashed potatoes, you kinda choose the Cup O’ Noodle. Turns out, the desire to not die in your bed is pretty strong.

There once was a time when I favored braised beef cheek and chilled grape soup with basil foam—pregnancy reduced my palate to that of a still-drunk frat boy. Thanks for that. Give me five bucks, please. I have no self respect.

I told my doctor about this terrible starvation/inability to eat anything that can reasonably be called food and her was response was, “Luckily, the baby doesn’t need nutrition right now.” Yeah, luckily. And it’s not like need it, right? And where is the baby getting her nutrients? She’s stealing them from your body. Like a parasite. Where’s the greeting card for that?
someecards.com - Congratulations on your acquisition of a small parasite that will steal your essential nutrients.
(Sadly, that analogy doesn’t quite end at birth. Not that I hate my kid. I don’t. I promise. Look, I can prove it.)

“Luckily,” Lots of Terrible Stuff is Normal

If you’ve never been pregnant before, all this crazy stuff will start happening to you and you’ll be like, “Holy shitballs, this can’t be right. This is how humans are made?” and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll say as much to your doctor. And she will say, “Yeaaaaaaaah. I’m sorry.” Because it totally IS right. It’s normal. For your entertainment/education/horrification, here’s a bunch of bizarro stuff that’s just par for the course with pregnancy.

  • Days long headaches that you can’t do anything about, because you can’t take any pain killers when you’re pregnant. A wet cloth on your head in a dark room may be recommended.
  • Bleeding gums. Like you’re a pirate with scurvy. Sweet.
  • Not pooping ever. Someone I know might have thought she was going to die of not pooping. It wasn’t me, because why would I share that? But no one wants pooping to be mentioned in their obit.
  • Nosebleeds. Wha…? Or a constant stuffy nose. Also wha…?
  • The persistent feeling of being kicked in the crotch. This happens because of a chemical that makes your joints loosen. Sometimes your pelvic joint kinda, you know, comes apart. And that process might make you Google “pregnancy kicked in the crotch.”
  • Extra moles. To make you feel awesome about yourself.
  • Chest pain due to: a baby being where your organs are supposed to go; or heartburn; or maybe a blood clot or heart attack. Hard to know. Not that that’ll freak you out or anything.
  • Dark spots all over your skin. To help with camouflage in the wild?
  • Hot flashes. Because why the heck not at this point, right?

There’s totally more than this but…why? (Oh, wait…diabetes! You can get di-a-be-tes just while you’re pregnant. And middle-of-the-night leg cramps! And anemia!!) I mean, does it need to get any worse for you to spot a lady a fiver? If so, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, YOU HORRID FIEND?

I will take one second to address something that might come up in the comments: some people have lovely pregnancies. They say they’ve never felt better, and that it’s such a blessing and they glow and all that crap. Ladies, you owe other pregnant women fifty bucks. Somehow they caught your share of the crappy part while you rubbed your belly and made cooing noises. Not okay.

So there it is. Go forth and procreate you poor bastards. I’ll give you five bucks if I see you.

Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Rapists: The Verdict

3D Judges Gavel

Photo by stockmonkeys.com

The decision came down from Judge Lipps in Steubenville, OH yesterday: the defendants have both been found delinquent beyond a reasonable doubt on two counts of rape, and one count of distributing nude pictures of a minor. As a result, the two young men will spend at least one year, up to their 21st birthdays in juvenile detention, with one spending an extra year for the count of distributing the nude photos.

The Defense That Didn’t Work

With a pile of damning texts from 17 different phones, and testimony from witnesses describing the victim’s state, the defense didn’t have too much going for it. So two things went on trial: first, the victim; then, the concept of active, cognizant consent. Luckily, neither of these approaches worked.

Attacking the victim’s character, dress, or actions is a common response among rape apologists, and a major contributor to rape culture. The fact that someone tried to present this bizarre concept as a legal argument is appalling. It’s a major understatement to say that I’m relieved it didn’t work. Because it doesn’t matter if I’m naked—that doesn’t justify rape. It doesn’t matter if I’m a drunk—that doesn’t justify rape. If people think I’m “slutty,” or I’ve been relentlessly flirting with someone—none of this stuff justifies rape.

And consent? The defense tried to claim that because the victim willingly went to a party with her perpetrators, had been expressing sexual interest in them at one point in time, and had drank alcohol of her own will, somehow that all added up to consent. Umm…what? They even admitted that she was “impaired” while the assaults happened, but claimed that impairment—definition: having weakened human function—somehow didn’t apply to her ability to consent to sexual contact. That’s some serious nonsensical rubbish, and now a judge has confirmed it as such. Thank goodness.

The lesson here: consent is real and required. Learn it. Teach it. Use it.

Did They Not Know it Was Rape?

No doubt the defendants knew what they were doing was wrong. Deplorable. Indefensible. But if they are anything like some witnesses in the case, they may not have recognized it was rape. According to Ohio state law, it was.

Interesting/horrible factoid? What happened to the victim may not be classified as rape in some states, because there was no sexual intercourse and rape definitions vary from state to state. Additionally, it seems like a lot of states don’t require a “yes,” only an absence of or inability to say “no.” (Though that would have been enough in this case, since the judge decided she was too intoxicated to give consent.) If we’re going to be able to ward off and punish rape in its many forms, we need to have a common definition of what it is in the first place. Click here to find out how rape is defined in your state. It might be time to contact your representative. It would be FABULOUS if each state adopted the FBI’s very thorough definition of rape.

Where Do We Go From Here?

I’m relieved to see the judge stood by common sense definitions of rape and consent, and acted accordingly. I’m still appalled by the actions of these young men, the witnesses of the rape, and especially the coaches of the defendants.

I hope from here two things spread: knowledge and fear. Knowledge about what is and isn’t rape. (And for that matter, knowledge about how not to be a douchy creep.) And fear that your actions have real and lasting consequences. And I hope that heady combination will keep at least some young people from growing up to be rapists.

More excellent stuff on the topic:

Blame for Steubenville rape case goes way beyond Trent Mays and Ma’Lik Richmond, says anti-sexism activist Jackson Katz – NYDailyNews.com

Another thought-provoking video from Modern Primate

A petition to get high school coaches trained in and required to teach sexual violence prevention

Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Rapists; Lessons from Steubenville, OH

slutwalk-30.jpg

Photo By rogamuffin via Flickr

Oh look! I’m back to our favorite lighthearted topic: rape! Joy of joys.

Today is the start of the trial for two Steubenville, OH high school athletes accused of repeatedly raping a very, very drunk young girl. I wrote a big long post with a lot of thoughts on this because, well…this is the type of thing that spurs a lot of thoughts for me. I changed my mind, though, and I’ve decided to just say a couple of things, then point you to read some words and watch some videos from people who are way smarter than me. So, here we go:

My Thoughts:

Rape is 100% the rapist’s fault. If I run around in my birthday suit, drink a fifth of Jack, flirt with a dude at a bar, pass out at his feet and then he rapes me, there’s still only one criminal here; only one person at fault. And the person at fault is the freaking rapist. There should be NO QUESTION here. Because, after all, it’s not my job to keep you from raping, it’s your job not to be a rapist. Duh.

The only way to know you’re not a rapist, is to know, know, know your partner wants to have sex with you when you are having sex with them. That’s it.

Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person’s consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, or below the legal age of consent. (via Wikipedia)

Consent. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had sex before, if you’re dating the person, if they’re dressed provocatively…none of that matters. You have to have consent. The easiest way to do that? Ask. Tell your partner that you’d love to have sex with them, and ask them if they’d like to have sex with you. If they say anything other than yes, don’t have sex with them. Blammo. Now you’re not a rapist. Whew! Isn’t that a relief?!

Somehow young men and women aren’t being taught this very simple rule of sexual conduct. So mamas, (and papas!) don’t let your babies grow up to be rapists. Have clear talks early and often about what consent is, about why reciprocity in relationships is so valuable, and about how everyone has a right to their own bodily integrity. Mamas, stand up for yourselves and other women. (You can do it! You deserve it!) Papas, be men that we can all be proud of; men that show respect as a default, and that stand up for women because it’s the right and awesome thing to do. Young men are absorbing the lessons you teach with your life—make sure you’re teaching well.

This horrible, sad Steubenville trial has taken on an even worse tone: consent is on trial. According to an article on Cleveland.com, the defense will argue that because the young girl got in the car with the defendants—even though she was later described as “dead” because she was so drunk—she consented to whatever sexual activity happened that night. Friends, that is a giant pile of bullshit. No matter what happens in this case, I’ll never accept that definition of consent, and I won’t sit by and let other people teach it. We all deserve more than that.

Ick. I’m so bummed.

Enough of me, here are some other people.

Check out this video from Modern Primate, which I found via Upworthy. This guy has it right. A billion high fives worth of right. Mamas and papas (heck, everyone): take note.

Zerlina Maxwell, a super smart person and rape survivor, recently got shouted at on the Sean Hannity Show (and threatened afterward) when she asserted that we shouldn’t try to curtail rape by telling women to carry guns, we should just tell dudes not to rape. There was so much barking in the segment that it was hard to hear her point, but luckily she followed it up with this piece on Ebony.com. Give it a read.

Here’s another great piece by Elizabeth Plank about the Steubenville case, consent, and rape culture.

I think that’s enough for now. It’d be great if we had such a colossal culture shift that these conversations weren’t necessary. We’d just all drink margaritas and play the tambourine. And I could get back to writing about french toast waffles and sarcasm. But sadly, these conversations ARE necessary. Join in, won’t you? But be nice, okay? Thanks.

Update: the two defendants were both found delinquent (the juvenile court equivalent of guilty). Click here to read my final thoughts, along with some other great links.

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