by Kristiana Huitrón
This is Part 2 of a 2 part series on talking with boys about consent. Read Part 1 here.
Now the crucial part of this talk is combining the communication with consent.
Me to my son: Do you remember how we looked at the stereotypes of men, women, sex, and social expectations?
Son: Yes, that girls are either good or bad and that saying yes to sex can make a girl look like or feel like she’s “bad”.
Me to my son: And what about for young men?
Son: That men are not supposed to care really, and that we are supposed to want sex more than anything.
Me to my son: Right. And we have talked about how powerful the stereotypes are in society and our minds, and that a lot of people accept these as truth. So, can you imagine that sometimes your girlfriend might not feel empowered enough over her own choices to say yes or no?
Son: So how do I make sure she always feels respected and safe?
Me to my son: Boundaries and taking people at their word, balanced with trusting your intuitions. How would that look? Say in a situation where you are on a second date.
Or where you have been dating for a few months and have made out and you now want to have sex.
Or where you are at a party and you have been drinking and meet a girl with whom you want to have sex.
How would alcohol and/or drugs complicate the matter on the part of both you and the young woman?
How could the social scene complicate this?
Son: Geez mom (Yes he actually says geez) I am not sure, but I imagine it could look like this……(These answers will vary, and are based in dialogue. The process will continually come back around to the values and the expectations previously set by you).
For my son and me, it took multiple conversations and multiple real life and test scenarios to get through all of this. We still talk about things and he is 23 living on his own. What I do know is that the consent talk and the varying ways of decision making made an impression on him that he still holds sacred today and shares with his friends, acquaintances, and his loved ones. The decision making talk, if put into a chart, would have looked like this.
If you ask for consent to ______ (fill in the blank with the request)
Then the person whom you ask must answer said request
If the person says yes
Then you have permission to fulfill said request (NOT other unasked requests. You must get consent for each separate request. Shared definitions of requests, actions, and consent help.)
If the person says no
Then you do not have permission and may not fulfill said request
If the person actually wanted to say or means yes
Then the person has to deal within their own self how to reconcile the desire with the yes/consent.
If they cannot/do not
Then you both don’t get to fulfill the request
If there exists uncertainty
Then you do not have consent and may not fulfill said request
If one is capable of giving consent
Then you can accept the consent as permission
If one is not capable of giving consent
Then it doesn’t matter if the person gives permission, it is null and void because you never should have asked.
If you are not capable of asking for consent and respecting the answer to the request
If you are not a capable of giving consent
(You can always do something later, but you can’t undo what has been done.)
If you are unsure
Then don’t do anything until you are sure.
|Sterotype promoted by society
If our message to girls is: Don’t get raped
If our message to girls is: it’s your fault if you were raped
If our message to the victim, regardless of gender, is: don’t be a victim if you are it’s your fault
|Reality as we have the power to effect
Then our message to Boys is: Do not rape
Then our message to boys is: It is your responsibility to not rape
Then our message to everyone, inclusive of gender, is: Do not victimize if you do, it is clearly your fault
Other considerations for the talk:
- Know your sons communication preferences, active talking, reading and analyzing, listen – contemplate-talk more later, etc.
- Follow up topics such as media literacy, pornography, maneuvering the permissions and values of other families (having sex in their girlfriends house with her parents’ permission)
- Cultural considerations and language. For our family it was Mexican cultural values of marianismo, machismo, familismo, respeto, and tradición joined with hippie values of peace, equality, respect and value of all people without judgment. Our family together has chosen universal values that harm none.
- Make clear your expectations and keep open the channels.
Yes, this is THE Talk, but it is The Talk to begin them all. Have fun, be open, learn with them, be strong when they need it, and let them make and be honest about their mistakes. While I want to protect my children, I also don’t want to find out one day that one of them perpetrated on a person either. I do not have control over them. I do however help shape them through how I live and what I impart, both on purpose and not even knowing it. Keep talking to them. It helps us discover them, our selves, and brings out the magic in parent child relationships.