I have been teaching my boys about the basic the principals of consent since forever. Partly because I am a rape survivor and I do not want my boys to ever be responsible for bringing this fear into the hearts of someone else. Partly because my children are special needs and sadly this makes them targets. So right from the beginning I have made it known that no one touches you without your permission. Period. Not me. Not anyone. The same rule applies to them in regards to others.
When they were little I made it clear it didn’t matter what kind of touching it was. It pissed off a lot of family back then. Not sorry. My son doesn’t like you patting him on the head, you don’t get to do it. End of discussion. Do not cross that boundary. Do not teach my children that it’s okay for these boundaries to be crossed.
As Latter-Day Saints we are taught that our bodies are the temples of our spirits. That they are sacred. Our body, our chastity, is to be protected with a fierceness like no other. I actually had in one of my Young Women’s class a lesson where we were told it was better to die than to have our virtue stolen. Yet all around me, both in and out of the church, we are inadvertently teaching our children that this sacred boundary doesn’t exist. We’re not taught how to protect it. We’re not taught how to honor it.
No one taught me self defense. So the words “better to die that to have your virtue stolen” was a bitter pill to swallow when faced with “If you ever want to see your kids again, you’ll give me what I want.” I couldn’t go down fighting because I didn’t know how. And I sure as hell didn’t want to leave two little boys alone in the world because at the time I was a single mother. I didn’t say yes, but I did choose to live.
Just one more drop in the bucket. Just one more reason to judge me. And yes, I caught holy hell for it. Somehow in the end it was my fault. I’m still angry that I wasn’t able to fight back. I’m angrier still that I got yelled at and accused for it – by my father no less.
So yes, I do allow the public schools teach my children sex ed but I also make sure they get my full brand of it too. I make sure they understand they never ever have the right to anyone’s body. They never have the right to invade someone’s personal space – sexual or otherwise.
There is so much at stake here. One bright, very late October afternoon completely altered my entire world view – and not for the better. My birthday of all days. Supposed to have been a simple quiet day out. Play some pool, go for lunch, and be back before dark. But that’s not what ended up happening. I was lied to. I was tricked. Instead of doing any of that he drove me all over the place. I ended up being taken to the middle of east bumfuck of no where. No alcohol. No drugs. I was wearing jeans and a baggy shirt. Where in all of this did I asked to be treated in this manner? The worst part in all of this is, if he had been a decent gentleman and had been polite and just I don’t know ASKED me if I would like to go somewhere to have sex instead of play pool I just might have said yes, because you know hypersexuality is a real thing. But no, the asshole had to be a creep and had to do this instead in this horrifying, scary way. He felt the need for whatever reason to threaten me. He threatened the future of my children.
Before this happened I didn’t just own my sexuality, I rocked it. I ruled my temple and it was invitation only. And back then I didn’t care who judged me for it. I believed that if God gave us free agency then it was between Him and me alone. Even now I’m willing to stand by the choices I have made with the free agency that has been given to me based upon the understanding I had at the time.
But now, the invitations have been burned and crumbled away. Every touch is a trespass. Every glance is a threat. Clothing serves only to hide and be invisible now. I’m not talking about attractive modesty. I’m talking about intentionally dressing like a block. This is no way for ANYONE to live. To live in fear of being looked at, to be seen. To experience rage just because someone in a store bumped into you. To lose joy in a game you once devoted yourself to. I own a specialty pool stick. It’s green. It has a frog painted on it. Technically it’s a “jump” stick. But because I’m so small it’s the perfect length and weight for me to play other than breaking – I had another stick just for that. I gave away my breaking stick. I can’t tell you where my frog stick is or even if it’s in playable condition now.
I don’t want this for anyone else and I sure as hell don’t want to be the parent of a child that brings this hell to anyone else. I might not be able to bring about radical change within the legal system or fix the systematic blindness we have in our country to all our ills, but what I can do is try to raise these 3 boys to be really good people that truly care about others. Deep down it is my hope that if there is enough of us that make an honest effort towards this goal, then the world will eventually become a better and safer place.