“She holds the hand that holds her down,” is sung by Eddie Vedder in the song, “Daughter,” by Pearl Jam. The statement is more real and scary than one can imagine. Since 93% of sexual assaults against children are committed by a person known to the victim’s family, the line in Pearl Jam’s song reveals one of the world’s best kept secrets. Ray Rice and the NFL cluster have been all over the news for the last few months. It’s a sad reflection on our society that it took a video of a well-known athlete cold cocking his fiancé to raise such an up roar. What about the millions of women that are being sexually assaulted and emotionally/physically abused daily? What about the children that are being molested in their homes, schools and churches? What about the young girls and boys that are being kidnapped daily and sold as sex slaves? These perverted, repulsive, evil acts are happening in every country, every town. It knows no socioeconomic group. It’s not biased toward a particular ethnicity, religion or gender. They are your neighbors, co-workers, friends and family. It’s not suddenly a new issue, but an epidemic that goes back to the beginning of time. Satan is crafty and loves to destroy the soul through verbal and physical attacks on the body and manipulation of the mind using people we trust and admire. He will do it in a slow methodical way or with an explosion that shatters the foundation one is raised on.
The explosions are obvious, but I would like to take a look at the slow methodical ways, often unrealized by adults. I was at my 9 year old son’s lacrosse game this past summer and I heard the other team’s coach yell at his son, “You’re playing like your sister! Let’s go!” The father’s intention was to motivate his son to play at a higher level, but instead he implies his daughter is inferior to his son. He insults his son and daughter at the same time. I heard the same comments in different contexts growing up –whether from coaches, in locker rooms or just in general: “I can’t believe you were beaten by a girl.” “You’re such a girl.” “You’re pretty good for a girl.” “Stop crying like a little girl.” Boys are taught from a young age that they should not let a girl beat them or the boy is physically weak or incapable.
As a boy enters middle and high school, the comments continue and progressively worsen using the anatomy of women. “You are such a p&**y.” “Hurry up, vagina,” just to state a couple. Frequently, the comments are friendly fire between guys, but regardless if it is banter among friends or mean-natured, it has the same damaging effect to men and women. The young man’s perspective of women is slowly shaped and women are slowly degraded as second class citizens. When you throw in the hormone detonation and what the teenager plans to do to a girl over the weekend or what they did do the past weekend (normally a fabrication) it compounds the message that women are not held in high regard and are for the pleasure of men. The insults that are hurled at one another using the anatomy of male and female fit this roll. “You are such a d**k” or “You are such a p*^^y.” The first statement means you’re a jerk, or narcissist. The latter condemns you as weak or easily conquered. What happens in rape? The narcissist attempts to conquer the “weaker” one.
One of the more bizarre concepts to me is how male and female promiscuity is looked at differently. When a man has sex with a woman he receives praise and is told he “scored,” like he’s a victor in a game. His friends are envious and give him high fives, while the girl is shamed and called names such as “whore” and “slut.” If the man is called a “man whore” it is viewed as a compliment in most circles. When men have daughters they refer to boys as potential predators. They make tongue-in-cheek comments: “I am not letting her out of the house until she is 30.” “Keep your boys (6 year olds) away from my daughter.” Such statements imply that boys can’t control themselves or have free range and girls are at risk.
Is there hope? Always. You and I are a part of the hope if we do something about it. Will change be immediate? No. There was a war to end slavery, but racism and hate still exist. Children are not born hating people of a different ethnicity. Prejudice is taught, modeled and passed down from generation to generation whether on purpose or by innuendos. Boys and girls are not born thinking they are superior or inferior to the other gender. It is taught, modeled and passed down from generation to generation whether on purpose or with innuendos. We can reteach our kids how to act and speak toward one another. Last, African Americans had to lead the Civil Rights movement. Women had to lead the fight for their equal rights. It is time men, the cause, lead the fight on domestic violence and sexual assault instead of the oppressed. It is as simple as starting in your own home and peer group.
When a statement is made about a woman being a slut/whore, we can interrupt them and ask them not to refer to women like that. It could even be a good opportunity for discussion.
When people yell “you are playing like a girl” –we can ask them to avoid those types of statements. Statements like that would not be acceptable if it was another ethnic group substituted in.
Use statements like above as teaching moments with your child.
Discuss how the comments are degrading to their mom, sister or friends.
I have been married for 12 years and love my wife. We take friendly jabs at one another from time to time. I get it, it is reality, but don’t make comments in front of your children or younger kids. If you are going to joke about gender roles or play the superior/inferior game make sure you are aware of the young ears listening.
Join the fight and let us all be the solution instead of perpetuating the problem with unnecessary comments and silence.
Our Contributing Authors
The Last Battle Blog aims to provide meaningful tools and information about the issue of sexual violation. We offer a way to express yourself, as you engage in your own personal awareness and share your strengths with others. Our goal is to cover a variety of topics, stories, ideas, and to create a blog that is beneficial and honoring to those who read it. Last Battle’s contributing authors help make this happen.