This has been a difficult week for me, and many people in our country– It’s been hard for people on both political sides. It’s been hard for people of all gender identities, sexual orientations, and it’s been really hard for those folks who have experienced sexual assault.
There has been an insane amount of commentary surrounding the Kavanaugh hearings last week. There has been massive amounts of anger, venting, and side-taking. For me, personally, this week has been deeply triggering. I’ve felt raw and spacey and it’s been really hard to get things done. I haven’t been great at stepping away from it all and finding ways to restore my heart, but I am aware of that need. I’m working on it.
As a parent, I have also been mindful of the need to find appropriate ways to find teaching moments to share with my child, and also equally mindful of the need to put this stuff away and be present and joyful for my child- to the best of my ability.
I’m going to guess that many of you are experiencing similar things, and so I’m going to share some resources that you may find helpful in navigating this moment and trying to figure out where to go from here.
If you have come across a resource you think it worth sharing here, please send it along and I will add it to this post.
- Unburdened Podcast In this hour long program, in this episode a group of black fathers grapple with challenging toxic masculinity- the divides that fathers have when fathering their daughters vs. fathering their sons. This whole podcast series is awesome.
- Here is a great article for folks trying to cope as a sexual abuse survivor.
- For folks who are trying to better understand why this week has been so difficult for many people, I found this interview was a really concise explanation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lskN-de5Z2U&app=desktop
- Related, here’s a group of men talking about the challenges of dismantling sexism/misogyny from a straight-male perspective (there is a whole series of these talks, too!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufQSF3mpQ6k
- NPR: How to Talk to Young People About the Kavanaugh Story Some great reminders for parents, It’s your job, it’s not too soon, give them the information, be the askable parent… A lot of this article reminds me of OWL parent discussions-
- Comprehensive Sexuality education is an important part of our path forward, so if you are able to volunteer time with an OWL program- do it. If not, Be an askable parent. Have a hundred hard conversations- don’t worry about saying the perfect thing- do your best, keep doing your best, lean on fellow parents. This is why good Sex Education is so important
- Do you (and your children) know about the freeze response? I have heard many people say, over past two years as sexual assault has moved in and out of the focus of conversation, that they are just realizing how common it is for people to freeze when they are confronted with sexual assault. We say ‘no means no’, and perhaps talk to our children about the importance of consent, but we don’t always lift up how common it is for a person to freeze when they feel fear in a situation. It is relevant, particularly, in teaching children and teens to be advocates for themselves and to be respectful of those with whom they might be intimately involved. There are two sides to this: 1. We need to learn that silence isn’t consent- if a person finds themselves in a sexual situation and their partner becomes very quiet and unresponsive, STOP. 2. We need to know that if, when confronted with a sexually threatening situation we ourselves froze– that was not a failure. To freeze is a completely normal biological response. It does not mean you gave consent, and it should not prevent you from reporting what happened.
- Finally, here are some children’s book recommendations- The article is specifically speaking to parents of sons, and offers some kids books to prevent sexual assault. I think this framing is a little tricky– sexual assault can experienced by any person and perpetrators are not always men. That said, the underlying message is valuable, toxic masculinity in our culture is real, and the book suggestions are worth sharing. We need to think about what messages we send our children in the media they consume, and recognize that we can plant seeds for a healthier culture if we are intentional about what our little ones are learning about gender and sexuality. ♥
Ok. I’m going to stop there.
Sending love to all of you, and resilience, and hope. We are not alone. Let’s move forward together.
7 thoughts on “Moving forward after the Supreme Court Hearings”
Excellent article, thank you!
As the person who compiled the book list on Books For Littles – Kids Books To Prevent Sexual Assault, I wanted to chime in to help explain why this particular post was targeted toward parents of boys.
For anyone who would enjoy following our larger body of work, this is the lone exception that focuses on toxic masculinity and places the burden of education on parents of boys. I created it (actually, a long time before the Kavanaugh hearings) to trigger fragile parents into taking action and accepting that we can’t leave the education of avoiding sexual assault only on the shoulders of our daughters and nonbinary kids.
While I’m not in love with the fact that THIS article was the one that went viral, as opposed to the ones that teach parents of ALL kids to take responsibility (we have many) – the fact that this one is the one people are sharing speaks volumes about how parents of all genders are feeling about the burden being held on the shoulders of femmes for so long – and how we need to start doing the hard work of dissecting toxic masculinity, even if we’re not particularly worried that our own kids will be victims of assault.
I’d also like to invite folks to remember that when we create posts telling white folks to start dismantling racism, we get kickback on this. “BUT NOT ALL WHITE PEOPLE” both derails the conversation, and erases the fact that fighting racism isn’t solely the responsibility of BIPOC.
“BUT NOT ALL MEN” derails this conversation. I try to stay inclusive in the fact that people of all genders can commit assault – even I take responsibility for the ways I’ve been complicit in this as a femme pursing relationships in previous posts. The fact is – most parents of boys have not been doing the work, and it’s time for us to step up and carry our fair share.
Ashia, Thank you so much for your reply, and for your work more broadly. I am going to look more closely at some of the other resources you’ve compiled. I hope my language was not received as a ‘not all men’ statement – If so, I am open to more specific critique, as that was the opposite of my intent. I’m a mom of two boys and I couldn’t agree more with your statement ‘most parents of boys have not been doing the work, and it’s time for us to step up and carry our fair share.’ That said, I also believe we fail to recognize that our sons are also at risk of experiencing sexual assault, that toxic masculinity exists in our culture and is embodied by all of us in subtle and less subtle ways, and that our daughters need to learn these things too for all the reasons… if I were to create the same resource, I might have titled it more inclusively – 6 things we must start teaching our children- because I think ALL of our children need to learn these things both to build their sense of what they can expect from people as well as how they are expected to treat others.
Again, thank you for writing, and for being out there doing this work!
I agree with you on all these points.
Sadly – this post WAS, in many iterations, for many posts, broadly generalized for all children. It’s only this one, specific to toxic masculinity, with the specific call-to-action for parents of sons, that got shared widely. Sometimes specificity just slaps readers just hard enough in the face that they wake up, which is good. But yeah – I am 100% with you on the fact that we need to clarify that men and boys are also victims of assault.
Sometimes we just need to focus on one specific issue at a time.
Just, for now, it’s women targeted by a specific type of sexual objectification who are feeling a need to look into how toxic masculinity defines itself in relation to the femmes-as-a-victim/object. The other issues, 364 other days of the year, we can be broad in scope. Just not that particular day.
I think we’re on the same page? but I’m not 100% sure.
I’m grateful that you are putting a public call out to ‘parents of sons’. I agree that many parents- and particularly, many parents of sons- are not talking about and working to dismantle toxic masculinity.
I also know that many parents ARE working on that, including many people in the congregation I serve (to whom this post was directed). I am speaking to specific people in my post, with whom I have deep relationship, and so my choice to speak to the specific people I am addressing, and to frame the resource in a way that I think makes it accessible to any of them, was intentional.
I have no intention to deflect the issue, my intent is to affect change through ongoing relationship- for me, in my work, it is about the other 364 days of the year, and this one.
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One other thing, Ashia– I did share your post on my own facebook page without qualifying/couching the language– and that felt right in that context for exactly the reason you mentioned– as a way of grabbing the reader’s attention. Maybe that helps to highlight my thinking around this. Thanks again!
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Yes – we’re on the same page. I’m just happy to elaborate, since things like this need to be discussed openly and honestly. Someone linked this page as a counter-argument to my call to action, so the wider public is following along, and I like to clarify things.
Bravo. I couldn’t agree more!
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