The last few weeks have made me feel like a David in a world full of Goliaths. I’ve been angry, sad, discouraged, and hopeless wondering, “Where is our humanity?”Most of all, I’ve felt small. I’m just one, average person – what can I do?
If you frequent the internet, you’ve likely read the sorry excuse for a letter Brock Turner’s father wrote to the judge presiding over the case. If you haven’t, I’ll spare you the experience and give you a brief summary. Essentially, it reads, “Brock feels bad, except not really, because she was drunk and doesn’t remember. This is ruining his life, his swimming aspirations, and oh yeah, his appetite for steak. All because of ’20 minutes of action’.” Its contents are inexcusable, even from a frightened father worried for his son’s future. The attorney’s defense of Turner was even more heinous. (Again, I’ll spare you, but one of his suggestions to the jury was that, because the victim was too drunk to recall, how did she “know whether or not she liked it?”)
I made the mistake of reading through the comment section on Facebook for a few of these articles, and while most sympathized with the victim, there were a few “She shouldn’t have gotten blackout drunk, she was asking for trouble, boys can become senseless when they drink alcohol” responses. It occurred to me that this attitude, this “Boys will be boys” philosophy perpetuates rape culture. That I, as a stay at home mama to Finn and Holly, can change the world for better in a small but meaningful way. I can teach them that their genitalia doesn’t entitle them to certain behaviors. That their gender doesn’t – and shouldn’t – excuse them from accountability for their actions, and that, man or woman, everyone is entitled to respect. So here it is. An open letter to our children.
Right now, your biggest concern is not wanting to share your blocks. Not wanting to nap. Not wanting the “green stuff” (broccoli is NOT poisonous, I promise you). This is just as it should be. My job as your mom is to guard you from the perils of a dark world, but unfortunately, life isn’t going to be all naps and blocks forever, so it’s also my responsibility to prepare you for more difficult times. So, a few things.
- God made you different, but entirely equal. You are more than your gender. Don’t ever allow the world to box you into a category based on superficial factors. And, when they inevitably try, don’t whine or complain. Instead, prove them wrong. I am not raising whiners. I’m raising do-ers. Go out and do.
- Your gender doesn’t excuse your behavior. A group of girlfriends and I were chatting about our husbands recently, and when one complained her husband had been insensitive and aloof, another woman at the table chimed in with, “Oh, that’s all men.” No. No, that’s not all men. It’s not your father, and it certainly will not be an excuse I will allow for Finn. In a partnership, like marriage, it’s vital that both partners lift one another up with respect and care.
- Your gender doesn’t define you. It’s 2016. You can be president, a stay-at-home parent, or a circus clown. None of these things are determined by your genitalia. You hear me? None.
- Your body is sacred, and so is theirs. Oy, the sex talk. We’re a long way off, and I dread it. For now, let me say this. Sex can be a beautiful and wonderful thing. It can also be ugly and damaging under the wrong circumstances. I will pray with you, talk with you, and encourage you, but ultimately your sexual choices are up to you.
- It will never be “your fault.” You are never asking for it. You are never at fault for someone else’s depravity. My biggest fear for you would be that you would suffer the consequences of someone else’s actions in silence, afraid for what your parents might think. Tell me. Even if you were on drugs. If you initially said yes, and then changed your mind. There is no place so dark your mama won’t hold your hand through.
- And if you commit a crime, I will always love you. But, no, I am not Brock Turner’s father. You see, my love for you is unshakeable, but my defense of you is not guaranteed. Because I love you, I will fight to hold you accountable for your actions. Because I taught you better.
Kiddos, the world is full of Goliaths. Be a David.
I love you.