Separate

I drafted the following from several petitions circulating about the separation of families at the border. I emailed all my representatives in Congress and the Director of Homeland Security. I find this policy cruel, and the trauma we are inflicting on these children and families unconscionable.

I am calling to demand that you speak out against and work to end the horrific policy of separating families seeking refuge and asylum in the United States. I want you to know that, as a voter, I am paying attention to your voting record on this issue. Families belong together.

I have been watching this story develop in horror. I am writing to you today to take action and stop separating families. Stop taking the children of immigrants and asylum-seekers and sending them to detention centers. Separating families is inhumane, and the policy — which is not a law — should end. It should have never begun!

Justification for this vile practice does not exist. These families and children are not threats to the safety of the United States. Policies exist to protect these children, and still keep them with their parents. It’s cruel to punish parents who are doing everything they can to protect their children and to punish children by depriving them of their parents. Separating a child from a mother or father only leads to more trauma for all.

Family unity is one of our core values and is reflected in our laws. Our government has a responsibility under U.S. immigration law to hear a person’s immigration or asylum case, not to try to scare them away from asking for help. Doing so puts these families at extremely high risk of experiencing further rights violations.

Separating families is also expensive. By some estimates, the government practice of detaining mothers and children apart from each other would cost taxpayers an average of $327 million per year. And keeping families locked up together is also expensive and cruel, when there are cost efficient and effective alternatives to detention. That money won’t make our country safer; it would only waste taxpayer dollars.

++

Before this horrific policy came to light, I was having anxiety about sending my children to Florida with our nanny. (Hey, it was her idea.) Many parents in my demographic do this type of thing though. We send our children to overnight camps, on trips with babysitters or families; we travel without our children to stay in touch as couples.

And, yes, for an anxious person like myself, this can be stressful. But my children are with people I trust, and we can touch base via cell phones — thank goodness for technology — so my anxiety is the normal price of being a parent.

What is going on at the southern border of America is not normal. These parents are not choosing to be separated from their children, and they are not given access to them to make sure they are safe and taken care of. We are traumatizing these families needlessly. I am glad to see people in the streets about this, and I will continue to hector my representatives until the policy is ended.

For more information, and to stay active, visit the Action Network for Families Belong Together.

Copyright: sifotography / 123RF Stock Photo

Boys

A few lessons for boys on life, and how it works sometimes.

1. Keep your hands to yourself. From horseplay and wrestling with your friends, to the bodies of potential romantic interests, ask for and receive consent before reaching out to touch someone.

2. Girls and women are people too. Your mom isn’t your maid or nanny. Your sisters aren’t punching bags. And, again, potential romantic partners don’t owe you anything. Women are human beings with their own agency. They (we) don’t exist to make your lives better, easier, or more pleasurable. We got our own stuff going on.

3. Feelings are okay. Even feelings that hurt. Being sad or disappointed isn’t going to kill you. Crying tears doesn’t make you any less of a person. No one needs to protect you from feeling bad. Learn to experience your emotions; learn how to express them constructively. If you aren’t getting these lessons at home, get some therapy to help you figure it out.

4. Keep your eyes on your own work. Do not buy into any school or workplace policy that polices girls’ clothing or body for the sake of YOUR learning. You can redirect your thoughts to your work even if you do get distracted by a leg or a collarbone. Save it up for bedtime, my dude. (Oh, and start washing your own sheets.) Girls are in school to learn (and at work to work), and don’t need the bullshit of being pulled out of class because someone got a little uncomfortable in their pants. Think of cold showers, and do your algebra.

5. Do. Not. Interrupt. Or. Correct. Girls. You don’t know everything about everything. You will never know everything about everything. Stay in your lane.

6. I’m going to say this loud, because this message isn’t getting through to some of y’all. YOU ARE NOT OWED SEX. NO ONE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR MAKING SURE YOU GET TO FUCK. If you have a little voice in your head telling you that it’s unfair that Stacy is sleeping with Chad, and that Becky wants to sleep with Chad, but she’s not because Chad is sleeping with Stacy, but Becky won’t sleep with you, either — guess what, buttercup? Life isn’t fair. Also, stop lumping women into two groups, either Beckys or Stacys. That’s gross.

7. “No.” is a complete sentence. Learn to accept that, and move on with your life.

8. Violence isn’t the solution to any of your problems. Hitting other people isn’t going to make you bigger or your life better. Taking a gun to school (or church, or the movies, or a nightclub) and killing people isn’t going to change your life. It’s going to destroy or end it.

9. Being bullied isn’t an excuse for violence. Being told no is not bullying.

10. You are responsible for yourself. If you take no other lesson into adulthood with you, take this one. (Well, this one and “Women are people.”)

  • YOU are responsible for your thoughts and your actions. No one can make you feel anything, and no one can make you do anything.
  • YOU are responsible for the consequences of your actions. It’s not someone else’s fault that you got a bad grade, or were reprimanded by a teacher, or cannot get a date. If you are constantly blaming other people for what is wrong with your life, you need to step back and search your soul.
  • Mental illness and/or strong feelings are not excuses for your behavior. If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, if no one ever taught you to express your anger constructively, GO SEEK HELP.

Aside: I swear, men learned the “blame someone else” from Genesis in the Bible. “The woman made me eat the apple, God,” sez Adam. God should’ve ended that nonsense right there: “No, my child. You wanted the apple for yourself, so you took of it and ate it. And now there are consequences for all y’all.”

What else do boys need to know?

Marvel

This post contains some profanity, as well as SPOILERS for Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War, so read at your own risk.

That said:

What the ever-loving fuck, Marvel??

I am not a movie buff, by any stretch of the imagination. I’m not even a frequent movie-goer. I don’t watch Oscar-nominated films on purpose. And I’m not much of a critic. I just want to be entertained.

To that end, I do like a big-budget blockbuster. Many of the movies I have made an effort to see in theaters (not counting animated movies; see: children) are movie franchises with million-dollar budgets and special effects galore: Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Wars films. I went to go see Jumanji on the big screen because it looked hella entertaining (it was).

When it comes to superhero movies, I am a Marvel girl (as opposed to DC). The only DC film I’ve watched is Wonder Woman. And, I will add here: I am not a comic book reader. I have no idea how true to any of the comics these movies are. It doesn’t overly concern me.

It’s shorter to list the superhero Marvel films (since the first Iron Man) that I haven’t seen. My favorite so far has been Black Panther; second on my list is Guardians of the Galaxy. Still, I wouldn’t have said that I was invested in the Marvel movies (and not a few of the television shows as well), but then we went to see Avengers Infinity War, and I’m still upset.

I started getting nervous about the outcome of the film when Vision and The Scarlet Witch/Wanda were attacked in Scotland. Thantos and his alien band of terrorists seemed quite unstoppable. And the Hulk wasn’t appearing to wreak his usual, unbeatable brand of whoop-ass.

But: It’s a superHERO film! No one dies in superhero films (except for Phil Coulson, and he gets resurrected for Agents of Shield)! No matter what types of marauding hordes are attacking Earth, or Asgard, or the galaxy, our heroes were there to save the day.

That proves very much to not be the case in Infinity War. Loki and Heimdall get offed in the first scene (so mean, killing Idris Elba); Thor certainly appears to perish in the cold reaches of space.

But I should have sensed we were in big trouble when Thantos tossed Gamora to her death. Aside: GURL, HOW DO YOU NOT SEE WHAT’S COMING? RUN!

Infinity War is an entertaining and fun film for the most part (except for that Gamora thing). It’s so great seeing each of the heroes get their moment; the appearance of Peter Dinklage is inspired; and it’s FUNNY. General Okoye to T’challa right before the final battle scene, “When you said we were going to open up Wakanda, this is not what I imagined.” T’challa, “What did you imagine?” Okoye: “I don’t know, the Olympics? Maybe a Starbucks?”

And then the final two minutes of the movie happen, and I am still not over it. I was too stunned to even fucking cry. I hardly believed it when Black Panther — what, disintegrated? Like: No fucking way that just happened.

And it kept happening: Scarlet Witch, Bucky, Spiderman, Dr. Strange, all the Guardians except Rocket — apparently Groot’s last word, directed toward Rocket, was “Dad.”

via GIPHY

Of course, we sat through the credits — we’re very familiar with the Marvel easter eggs, after all. And I still don’t know what’s going to happen next (because I didn’t recognize that icon on Nick Fury’s special decoder signal call thingie — which, who even knows if that call went through before Fury, too, disintegrates).

We know there’s a Guardians of the Galaxy 3; we know there’s an fourth Avengers movie. DO THEY ALL COME BACK? DO THEY FIND THANTOS AND USE THE TIME STONE TO FIX WHAT’S WRONG? I NEED TO KNOW!

Okay, I don’t really need to know, but man. You can’t just *poof* Black Panther like that. Even Flora, who is less of a movie buff than I, was quite upset.

Walking out of that theater was like walking out of a funeral (h/t Dan). It was so quiet. I can’t decide if I’m too mad to ever go see another Marvel movie again — I know, it’s fiction, but you just don’t expect evil and madness to WIN like that — or if the suspense is going to be too brutal to think about.

I guess in the meantime, I’ll go watch season 2 of Jessica Jones. Oh, Jessica, hold me.

Did you see it? Did you hate it? DO YOU KNOW WHAT’S NEXT?

Copyright for featured image: olehsvetiukha / 123RF Stock Photo

Two rally banners: Books Not Bullets and Protect children not guns

March

Saturday, Dan, the children, and I went downtown to the March for Our Lives rally.

(We missed marching from the City County Building to Market Square due to work [him] and child logistics [me]. But we got to the rally as it began.)

It was the first real political action we had taken in general (aside from voting, writing letters, and/or making phone calls). It certainly was the first time we involved the children in action.

It won’t be the last.

I hope the grownups are paying attention. These children — my children — are growing up under a cloud of possible violence. Many of the children who spoke at the rally on Saturday had already been directly impacted by gun violence in their communities. Their friends were dead; they were living with fear and anxiety.

Many of these children will be able to vote in November. And any politician who is not actively seeking to make a difference when it comes to gun control laws is going to find himself out in the cold, and deservedly so.

I know it gave me hope. I hope it gave Flora some hope. She and I walked the square, and we bought some pins (Flora’s: Fight Like a Girl), and M4OL bracelets. (Flora, yesterday: “Do you think I should wear my bracelet to school?” Me: “I do. I think you have supportive friends. Some of your friends participated in the walk out.” Flora: “I’m going to do it!”)

It was extremely moving as well. The politicians who spoke were politicians. But the children and non-politicians who spoke owned the crowd. A number of 17-year-old girls had time on the stage; the Pittsburgh March itself was organized by two sisters from Shadyside Academy, a 16-year-old and a 15-year-old. Parents and siblings who had been traumatized by guns spoke up and spoke out. And there was a HUGE call for intersectionality. The children are reaching out to children of color and communities of color who have been under assault from gun violence for decades. They want to make a difference for those communities too.

The NRA and people who oppose gun control can hurl insults and invective at these children. They can scoff. They can choose to believe that come November all this passion will have died down. That young people will continue to eschew voting and activism.

I say, let them have their denial. I believe in these children, in their passion and their voices. They are tired of the deaths of their peers, they are tired of the do-nothing politicians and their thoughts and prayer, they are galvanizing us adults to be the people they believe us to be.

Also, they have no illusions. They aren’t calling for guns to disappear, they understand the Second Amendment. But they also know that they have the momentum and popular support on their side. That the tide has turned.

That Enough is Enough. Never Again.

++

Another first for me this month: I created an entire “Irish” meal for St. Patrick’s Day, which was a Saturday this year. Corned beef, mashed potatoes, Irish soda bread, and cabbage (sauteed, not boiled). Dan and I had Guinness as well, naturally. I was kind of proud of myself. I also learned that Dan loves corned beef (Michael and Kate enjoyed it too). So that will be something that maybe I’ll cook more than once a year.

Image of corned beef and cabbage on a plate, and some Irish soda bread.
Corned beef and cabbage, and my first loaf of Irish soda bread.

Did you do anything for the first time this month?

Bomb

The high school in my district has received two bomb threats (at least) since the shooting in Parkland, Fla.

Yesterday, they sent the high school children home early in “an abundance of caution.” Today, they told all the high school and middle school students to not bring backpacks or gym bags to school. The middle school is separate from the high school, but on the same campus. At the middle school, everyone was to be dropped off at one entrance, and children would be searched as they entered the school.

Delays were expected. The message from the school specifically asked that parents dress children for the weather because they were likely to be outside for a while.

Dan and I elected to keep the girls home from school today. (Michael’s school is not near the high school and middle school campus. His bus was so late today that Dan ended up driving him to school. The middle school and elementary schools share buses.)

The girls had asked to be kept home from school, as well, although Katie did miss a test. It was all very anxiety provoking.

On one hand, the likelihood of anything happening was very small. The threats were deemed “non-credible.” The administrations of both schools were taking every precaution they could. The schools had a police presence.

On the other hand, what used to be unthinkable is something that happens with some regularity now.

Part of me struggles to have sympathy for a child who feels the need to threaten to bomb his school. Clearly, someone acting that way has some issues, and is doing the only thing he can do to be heard and noticed.

Some of me wonders if it’s a child’s idea of a prank.

Some of me wonders if the child is simply a sociopath, enjoying the chaos and fear his actions are causing.

In those latter two cases, my sympathy shrivels.

I am not here for the debate on guns, although you can find plenty of my thoughts on them elsewhere on this blog.

I am not here for a debate on mental health or school safety, either. Do those things need to be addressed? Sure. In which case, fund them. Give people the resources they need to get mental health care, and to secure their schools — not by arming teachers. That is not the solution. Heck, give teachers the resources to actually TEACH, including basic supplies, in-classroom aides, and a supportive administration and board.

How much closer to home does it need to get for things to change?

I admire the passion and activism of the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. We are still talking about this a whole week plus later, which is a change. I am here for the change.

If you are interested in making a difference, find a March for Our Lives event near you.

Listen

The girls and have been watching Queer Eye on Netflix, a reboot of the Bravo channel show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. It is *highly* entertaining — and surprisingly moving.

These five gay men meet the men they are making over exactly where they are, with no judgement, and with nothing but encouragement and love.

They are better people than I, without question.

We watched Episode 3 last night. Titled “Dega Don’t”, it sends the guys to an Atlanta cop’s house to get him cleaned up, dressed up, and out for a date night with his wife and daughters.

Karamo, who is the culture guy, is a black man. At one point in the show, he and Cory, the cop, are riding somewhere in the car, and they start having a conversation. A real conversation. About black men and cops, about stereotypes, about the deep divides in this country.

And here’s the thing: They really listen to each other. You can see it. Cory is turned toward Karamo, and he doesn’t jump into the conversation. He doesn’t look like he’s thinking, “When is it my turn to speak?” And Karamo opens up to Cory. He admits he started off the makeover totally closed off to Cory — gay black man, white cop? In his words: “Nah.”

But instead of becoming more entrenched in their positions, they have a dialogue. Cory says he hates when police use unnecessary and deadly force, too, that it is especially problematic when it’s a white cop and black person. He doesn’t defend himself or people in his profession; he doesn’t justify the murder of unarmed black men. And Karamo is moved. They talk about their upbringing, and find out they have a lot in common. And by the end of the conversation, Cory says something to the effect of: I know that it’s going to take a lot more than two guys in a car, but if more people would talk about this, if more people would listen about this, it would be a big move toward uniting this country.

It gave me a lot to think about. Because I completely understand that I am part of the problem. I don’t know that I can overcome it when it comes to the political divide. I don’t know if I could open up and truly listen to a Trump voter: where they are, where they come from. I have a huge problem with our current administration.

I don’t know how we get back to being open and truly listening to each other, instead of shouting one another down. (Social media is no good for listening in general. There are rare exceptions.)

Maybe we admit, like Karamo does, like Cory does, “This is wrong.” Maybe we admit we are vulnerable and scared, and after that, find a way forward together.

But I don’t know how to make it happen. There are people I don’t talk to because I don’t trust them with my vulnerability, and I don’t trust them to listen to and hear me. It’s like writing to my representatives, and either getting a long letter full of GOP talking points — or, worse, being scorned and dismissed. I don’t want to take the risk.

Maybe more people need to listen to the cultural messages that exist out there in our pop culture — I am thinking specifically of the first post-credit scene in Black Panther, as well as the message the Fab Five give us each episode — maybe those kind of things are what we need to hear. Maybe there is common ground — hope? — from which we can step toward a prosperous and successful future together, rather than divided.

1 Kings 19:11-13 King James Version (KJV)
11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:

12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave.

Maybe we all need to be a lot more quiet, so we can hear.

Gerrymander

In case you don’t know, Pennsylvania is divided up in rather ridiculous ways for voting purposes. The GOP in PA drew up the voting districts in 2010 (I believe). Democrats sued, the PA Supreme Court said, Yeah, this isn’t fair or constitutional; try again. And now the Republican representatives want to impeach the judiciary.

Here, Tony Norman of the PG does a good job of talking about the issue.

Because I am find the idea of impeaching some judges abhorrent, I decided to send an email to my representative in the PA General Assembly. This is what I emailed.

Email text protesting the GOP gerrymandering in PA and their desire to impeach the court.
My email to Rep. Mustio

And the very next day, this is what I got back from Representative Mustio.

Mustio sez: Cut me a break.

Me: Oh no he didn’t.

via GIPHY

Yeah.

I cheerfully responded:

Oh, sir, no.
Respectfully yours.

Now, it turns out the Rep. Mustio is retiring and isn’t going to run for another term (boo hoo). I certainly will be paying close attention to the people who decide to run to replace him. And I am curious what reaction his fellow Republicans to Mr. Mustio’s response to me. Do they care? Can they be made to care? I bet with a new map they sure will!

The Republicans have lost their GD minds. Pennsylvania is not the only state with the GOP thinks that they can do anything they feel like; see also Wisconsin and North Carolina.

I honestly don’t know who these people think they are.

via GIPHY

If you think the election of the Great Orange Cheeto was going to take the wind out of Democrat and progressive sails, you have another thing coming. Listen up, GOP: There are more of us. And we are on fire. We are energized to vote in 2018 and beyond. Enjoy your petty little responses now. At least you have constituents for the time being. That won’t last with attitudes like Mustio’s.

Yes

What does a non-coercive sexual encounter look like?

Simple: It is two people saying yes to each other.

Let’s be clear about something: sex isn’t the end game here. Dating, sex, and relationships happen on a continuum. Sure, one-night stands happen; sometimes they are even the desired outcome.

One should still get consent. I would venture to say, even, that women and men can be clear about their intentions of having a one-night stand. “I’m not looking for a relationship, but you’re cute and I’m feeling frisky.” This way, no one’s waiting for a phone call.

We don’t need signed affidavits for consensual sex. The #MeToo movement isn’t going to ruin dating, flirting, or sex.

What a lot of men are just starting to realize is that the sexual interactions they are used to having aren’t necessarily fun for women. Outside of the troubling power dynamics of sexual harassment at the office, and outside outright assault and rape, there are still troubling interactions, messaging, and treatment that needs to be parsed.

We shouldn’t be afraid of this.

I once heard it said, “Sex is like pizza. Guys never have bad pizza.”

This isn’t true for women. Women get bad pizza sometimes. We are more vulnerable, and we’ve been conditioned from the youngest ages to go along to get along. It isn’t until we are in unpleasant sexual situations that we realize that it’s not going to work to our advantage.

++

Expanding on a point I made the other day:

“Traditional ideas about seduction rely on tropes of women withholding sex and men working hard to get it. It’s a narrow notion of heterosexuality — one that does a good job excusing abusive behavior…. [W]hen it’s considered ‘natural’ for men to doggedly pursue women — even those have made it clear they’re not interested — we make it easier for a predator to claim he was just following a normal romantic script.” (source)

Having this conversation about affirmative consent isn’t going to kill dating and romance. It doesn’t mean that men have to sit back until women make the first move, either.

It means take no for an answer, the first time, every time.

It means when she starts saying yes, make sure she still is saying yes minutes, and hours, and days later. Maybe even years!

“But some women like playing hard to get.”

Okay, I hear what you are saying. But the idea that she’s just playing hard to get cannot be the default position. As someone who never played hard to get, this argument falls flat with me.

If you are dating a woman, or a woman has decided to take you home/go home with you, now is time not to push ahead at all costs. If you don’t know if she’s having second thoughts, just ask. Open it up! “Is this okay? What do you want to do?” Check in.

Frankly, many women would benefit from learning more about their own bodies and their own desire. Sexual education, whether in the classroom or in pop culture, centers on boys. Boys have orgasms and pleasure; girls get pregnant. Sexual education for girls is about our period, and how not to be mortified by our body.

I have many more thoughts about this, so if you’re still interested, stay tuned. But this is the takeaway from this post, for men AND women, boys AND girls: Let us learn the language of desire, and learn what “yes means yes” looks like in action. The agonizing going on now by people who don’t want anything to change is worthless. Let’s see some change.

Consent

Mom, Dad, other family members, you may not want to read this one. I have some strong opinions about #MeToo, consent, and assault. This post includes some info about me you may not want to know. And/Or: Trigger warning. Portrayals of unpleasant sexual situations ahead.

So, it seems that an account of a woman who went on a date with Aziz Ansari is muddying the waters. This is akin to what happened when Sen. Al Franken and Garrison Keillor were accused of assault. It’s a mix of “NO, not this guy, whom I like!” and “Wait, is that assault?”

Call it assault, call it a bad date, call it coercion. It is far too common, and this is why the discussions about MeToo don’t stop now, they keep going. We don’t dismiss this woman’s account because she didn’t get to choose the wine she preferred. We say, “Okay, what do men do when they find themselves in a situation with a woman, and the signals change?”

Reading the account was unpleasant for me, and I would guess for many women. Many of us have been on bad dates, have been in situations where we did things we didn’t want to do. I’m going to call it coerced consent.

“If I do this, he’ll let me go home.” Oh, and if you’re thinking, “Just leave!” Where am I? What neighborhood am I in? Did I drive? Are buses running? Would I know where to catch one? Do I have the money in my bank account to grab an uber? Am I drunk?

“If I do this, he won’t get mad at me.” Man, I really like this guy. We’ve been on a couple of dates. I still would like to hang out with him. If I do this, maybe we can still hang out together. If I do this, maybe he won’t bad mouth me to his friends/our peer group. If I do this, he won’t hurt me.

“I said no. Why isn’t he stopping? I’m not touching him anymore, I’m turning my head away. I’m pushing him. WHY WON’T HE STOP?” Because he’s drunk. Because he thinks you’re just kidding. Because you’ve been leading him on, and now you have to put out. Because you’ve had sex before, so why not now?

++

Yes, bad dates happen. With any luck, they don’t end at the man’s apartment, with him not getting your cues, and you wondering how to get out of the situation.

When I was first starting out in the world of dating-with-sex, I stumbled into these kinds of situations. I was uncomfortable, I was unsure of what I wanted to do, I wondered how to stop things without coming off as frigid, or a bitch; I didn’t want to be unpleasant. (And, let’s not forget, I was actually raped.)

Now, eventually, I worried far less about what these men thought of me. I became confident in asserting my boundaries (not just sexually, but professionally, and so on), and sticking to them. Please note, this doesn’t mean that I radically curtailed my social life, or my drinking, or stopped going home with men I was interested in having sex with. But it does mean: I drew some hard lines, and was able to assert them, and chose guys that respected them.

This young woman who found herself in the situation with Ansari will learn her boundaries, and take a lesson from her weird, coercive encounter with him. Most women who have this bad of an experience — and that is most women — will.

This is what the discussion needs to be about going forward:

1. Women have bodily autonomy and voices that should be heard. Women are people, not playthings, not sperm depositories, not opportunities to have sex.

Women. Are. People.

2. Stop portraying romance as “guy chases girl, girl says no, guy harasses girl — even if it’s ‘cute’, even if he’s kind of a nerd — girl finally gives in, and dates boy because he’s really a sweet guy who has her best interests at heart.”

Guy asks girl out, girl says no, end of story. For an example — for several examples of treating women as objects that just need to be talked into saying yes, see Love, Actually. Don’t do any of those things.

3. Instead of coerced consent, let’s work on continual affirmation. Is it that difficult to say, “Is this okay? How about this? What do you want to do now?” Girls and boys can both learn this, the language of desire, the language of YES.

4. Women are not sexual gatekeepers. Men are not sexual animals. Relationships are two-way streets. This practice of coerced consent is harmful for boys and girls, men and women. It limits us to narrow, specific, and unpleasant roles. It gives us bad experiences. It leaves a bad taste in our mouths.

How else do we teach consent?

How Not to Harass

Don’t touch another person. It is that simple. Especially if you are in a place of work, from a restaurant or a bar, to a corporate office. Keep your hands to yourself.

Don’t comment on another person’s body. Don’t comment on their weight or the way their clothing fits.
You can compliment a person without commenting on their body. “Those are cool shoes!” “Your hair looks great.” “Where did you get those leggings?” “I like that shirt.”

Don’t make sexual innuendos. You never know who will laugh and be amused, and who will be made uncomfortable – and even if someone laughs and is seemingly amused, he or she may simply be covering up their discomfort. They don’t want to be seen as a poor sport or viewed as without a sense of humor.

And don’t make sexual overtures at work. Don’t ask for dates, massages, or “private meetings.” Keep your clothes on.

++

I listen to these stories in the news – who’s been fired, who’s been harassed, who’s been raped or assaulted. Nearly every woman I know posted to the #MeToo campaign. (I did too.)

I am raising a son, and every day I teach him something else about consent. I tell my children to keep their bodies to themselves. I know he has a good example in his father, and in other men around him.

We let our children decide to hug someone (or not). My children are very naturally affectionate, so it’s more often me reminding them to ask if it’s okay to hug someone.

I am not teaching my children caution because I want them to be scared to touch or to be touched. I am teaching them consent, and how to ask for it or offer it, so that they recognize their own and others inherent bodily autonomy.

My body is mine. Your body is yours. Her body is hers, and his body is his.

Communication is key in consent. Asking and answering. It starts at home, listening to our children when they aren’t in the mood to hug or cuddle, or wrestle for that matter.

++

Stop treating women and girls like they are disposable. Stop protecting men acting badly – even if they don’t do anything to you.

Girls and women exist in their own right. We aren’t decoration or entertainment. We have just as much right to decide how to live our lives and how to move through the world in our bodies without having to fight every day. For the right to speak. For the right to be heard. For the right to not be commented upon or touched.

If we just acted like every person was a person – with complete autonomy, and worthy of respect and dignity, how much better the world would be.