We’ve all heard an adult tell kids things like, “He’s just picking on you because he likes you,” and, “Boys will be boys,” when a girl gets her hair pulled or teased. These phrases, while seemingly innocuous, actually aren’t–because it deflects the bad behavior to another cause. Or simply, doesn’t place blame at all–and just allows bad behavior to perpetuate–hence, why rape culture exists.
Whether we want to admit it or not, our kids are growing up in a time when sexual assault is often ignored, and victims are silenced. In general, the way sex is portrayed and discussed, both educationally and in the media, is highly complicated and deeply disconcerting. We see Victoria’s Secret ads with half-naked women on display all the time, but can barely provide a decent sex education in the classroom.
A lot of this stems from these common phrases we’ve been hearing since birth, which is why I love the It’s On Us video produced by the Ad Council and the SheKnows Hatch program. While little off-handed phrases can be rationalized, they are what stick in a child’s mind–and can play a role in victim-blaming someone who was assaulted (because he/she “should have” done X/Y/Z or not flirted back or not had any alcohol. The excuses are endless).
Watch the video below:
As a sexual assault survivor myself, I’ve heard many of these phrases, like, “But you dated this person, so he didn’t rape you,” to, “But you flirted,” to, “What were you wearing?” to, “Were you drunk?” All of these statements are terrible and inappropriate to say to anyone who was assaulted. Because none of it MATTERS. People shouldn’t rape. It’s as simple as that.
Maybe you think this doesn’t concern your kid, or your kid is too young to watch the video or have a conversation with you. But really, no one is ever too young–and the earlier you educate your children on boundaries, the better. According to Rape Abuse And Incest Network (RAIIN), every 109 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. That statistic alone shows us just how rampant rape culture actually is.
While it may seem overwhelming to change the way our culture thinks, we can do it. We can break the cycle by teaching what consent is to our kids. And really, it’s quite simple: No one is owed sex. No one is entitled to sex. It’s your body, your rules.