Banging the Drum for Common Sense

Literary agent Michelle Johnson’s blog pointed me toward this fantastic open letter from a mother to her sons.  If you’re sick of hearing about rape culture, you may continue to hide from reality and hope you and the people you love are never personally affected by this societal scourge.

If you’re sick of rape culture, click here to read this wonderful letter and maybe share it.

For those of you in academia, good luck getting through finals.  As soon as I’m done with them, I’ll be back to posting authorly treats.  For those of you not in academia, count yourselves lucky this time of year, and be well.



Click here to read my post in response to the media debacle surrounding the Steubenville trial.

Why Our Society Is Failing As A Collection Of Human Beings

Did that title get your attention?  Was it too sensationalized?  Too broad a category that couldn’t possibly be answered in a single blog post?

I think there are a lot of wonderful things about humanity, I really do.  I am about as far from being a cynic as one can be and still be realistic about the 21st century (even in all its unabashed glory).  And I’m going to try really, really hard to be coherent and level with what I’m about to say.

We have got to change the way we raise children, as a society.  Both the girls and the boys, I mean.  Would we tell our children that traditional fairy tales are an appropriate model for adult life?  In nearly all cases, no.  The boys shouldn’t be taught they have to swoop in to the rescue all the time any more than the girls should be taught to lie catatonic in wait for some boy to come solve their problems.

But what are we teaching them?  I don’t mean what are we trying to teach them, what do we think we’re teaching them.  I mean, what’s real?

Take those football players in Steubenville.  At what point in their upbringing were they taught the message that any part of their behavior is remotely permissible, appropriate, or funny?  What cretins taught them those lessons?

Take the news media who’ve been treating these boys with pity.  HUH?????

This isn’t about alcohol; that’s another problem that needs to be solved, but it’s not this one.  This one is about human rights.  It’s about inequality and power.  It’s about violent crime and the way society responds to it.

I went to an all-girls high school whose mission focused on social justice, so I think in some ways I was luckier than most.  I was taught in my teenage years that rape is no more a sexual experience than being clubbed over the head with a saxophone is a musical one.  I was also taught that rape may come in many different guises but there is no gray area.  It’s ALL morally WRONG.

Blame alcohol and the capacity for the teenage brain to make poor choices.  Blame the media, blame football, blame Todd Akin and his colleagues.  Blame celebrity culture, blame rape culture, blame thousands of years of patriarchal rule.  Blame the constant need for instant gratification or a voyeuristic society.  Blame the opinion that women’s bodies are more beautiful than men’s, or that men’s bodies naturally have more upper body strength.  Blame technology and the “digital age.”  Blame video games and movies and television and the music you hear on the radio.  Go ahead and blame those fairy tales.  Blame Stephenie Meyer if it makes you feel better.  But don’t imagine for one minute that any of that blame-laying actually helps.

DO NOT BLAME THE VICTIM.  (And if you’re wondering, the actual victim is the girl who was raped and whose attack was immortalized on viral video.)

We need creative and incisive thought to solve problems.  Well, there are a lot of creative people in this world who have the ability to think logically.  How about we rethink ourselves first, evaluate the choices we as individuals make every single day, and then let them all add up to something profoundly beneficial?

I don’t know how to fix all this mess.  But I do have a pretty good idea of how not to raise my son and daughter.  Am I perfect?  Far from it.  Am I going to raise them perfectly?  I don’t see how that’s possible, since they’re sentient human beings, not stuffed animals.  But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try.

I’ve read two excellent pieces on this godawful topic today.  One is Byronic Man’s blog post, and the other is a piece by Henry Rollins.  B-Man always has a really smart take on what’s going on.  And Rollins’ post is so good, I’m not even sure I can pick out a favorite part.  If you can, leave it in the comments section.

Enjoy, be well, and make yourself part of the solution.