Patterns of Behavior
I am coming off of an insane high from a week full of events, lessons, meetings and introductions so I apologize in advance if this ends up being one of those posts where my train leaves the station without you... I am not one to go back and correct streams of consciousness like this...
It this morning while breaking into conversation with my dear cousin and all of his beautiful intentions that I start discussing how it's being shown in all sorts of different ways how our approaches to some things lead us to change out relationships to others, ourselves and our sex (whether shared or alone).
Let's just start with the case study of Greece, which I find fascinating, who boasted the planet's highest rates of abortions- 3x the live birth rate- even before abortion was legal in the country. This is with birth control pills being available OTC for super cheap and condoms given out for free at pharmacies. Studies found that their attitudes towards medicine and how it was traditionally used had largely shaped their attitude towards the role of abortion. A nation that used medicine as "sick-care" and never preventative, that looked for treatments and pills as solutions to problems, that was the same nation that didn't understand the value of disciplining themselves into a scheduled drug intake routine when what they've always know is to go get "vacuumed-out" every few months. Turns out, one of the techniques implemented to curb those rates was to teach parents to start putting sunblock on kids. Start flossing teeth. The "before" work. Along with a crap ton of fear-mongering about AIDS and STI's, along the with legalization of abortion itself, and the rate is still high but has been reduced dramatically (currently about 1 to 1 LBR). Shocking how establishing these patterns in early childhood have been proven to give us better results in the long run.
Similarly, sex educators work to help parents establish good habits from a young age. For instance, there is no need to wait to have a conversation about not drinking from a glass you didn't see poured, or left unattended. You can literally just start the habit of throwing out any drink or cup left out- when the littles come back and inevitably complain that they left for one second, you can say "we don't drink from drinks that we left alone: you never know if something got in it". It is such a simple way to teach them such a life-saving practice.
NOTE: Did you know that different types of date-rape drugs affect XY people differently than they affect XX people? Contrary to the false security you might feel when you drink from a drink someone else has been drinking from, you have to be aware that what makes one type of body feel high, makes others black out. Those are extremely different reactions. Most date-rape drugs are extremely expensive to test for and will only be tested by a hospital if there is evidence of sexual assault, even if a parent explicitly requests it. And, because it is so quickly metabolized, it must be tested within the first 18-24 hours to even show up in a test.
So back to the story. Ahhh yesssss... so my cousin brings up the backlash that A Star is Born is getting for being anti-feminist. All of this because Bradley Cooper tells her to go on stage when she expressed she didn't want to. He asks, what could be bad about that?
Well... let's take aside the fact that it is once again a man deciding what a woman should do and putting her in a position where she can't really say no. A person told another person "I don't want to" and person #2 decided that person #1 could not be trusted to make that decision for themselves or that person #2's idea was more important/valuable/correct, and then took it upon themselves to make it extremely difficult for person #1 to say no. It does not matter if it was having a threesome, being peed on or getting on stage. It does not matter if person #1 decided afterwards that they absolutely loved it. They said no and until we ALL realize no ALWAYS means no, even when you say it without words but ESPECIALLY when we say it with words- and especially when those words are soft and full of doubt- we trust the person speaking them and honor their request.
Our opinions do not trump another person's choices for their life. "No" does not mean "convince me". "Pull me on stage harder". "Tell me my reasons for not wanting to are not enough".
It is not that making someone sing is similar to coercing someone into bed, but the pattern of behavior is the same. No, come one, no, come one, okay.
Listen, I know it sounds rough but try to stay with me. If something as insignificant as sunblock can change people's minds about getting in the habit of using birth control, is it at all possible that immediately stopping a tickle fight when someone says "stop" will teach that those words have power? My cousin says: yeah but what my sister loves most about her husband is that he pushes her out of her comfort zone, and makes her do things she would have never done without him. There is a right and a wrong way to push someone into something. Telling a partner that you know they feel apprehensive and you respect that but rationally (fill in incredibly persuasive info)... that's different than "surprise! You mom and you are going on a therapeutic retreat to work out your issues!". Agreed?
Consent education does not start in teens. It does not start in adults. In fact, it doesn't even start in children. It starts with parents. It starts with us realizing when the tiny people do not want to talk about something and naming that: "It looks like you don't feel like talking about this right now, but I'm very interested in hearing what you have to say when you feel ready". Our ability to recognize when our behaviors are coercive must be trained like a seeing eye dog. The idea that no means no is simply not enough only because we are consistently blind to all of the ways in which "no" is expressed.
SO I encourage you to observe your daily behaviors. Look for what no's look like in your house and ask when you think you've spotted one. Staying grounded in your experiences as they come and using techniques for noticing and curiosity can really surprise you. Every future murder, rapist, abuser, offending pedofile is being raised right now, in ways that could completely change their outcome and that of their victims.
How do you raise your kids for a better all?