Dear Teenage Son: Please, Don’t Rape

Dear Teenage Son,

I’m taking a break from planning your 5th birthday party, which is exactly one month away. I need the break because I’m overwhelmed by the fact that you’re almost five…and I have no idea how to accommodate the expected 50 people we’re going to invite. I blame myself for making you such a fun and social kid.

It’s hard to believe that you’re no longer a toddler. You’re a real live boy. I have to admit, there were times I didn’t think we’d get here. You refused to be weaned when I wanted, but resigned yourself to your new fate at 18 months when I said “No more booby!” I was pretty sure you would be forever in diapers as potty training was the hardest…thing…ever. At least I thought it was until the past year. Forget about the Terrible Twos, the Frustrating Fours have caused an increase in mommy’s hair maintenance budget.

I’m amazed at how much you’ve learned in these five short years. Still, there’s so much to teach you. Sure, we’ve gotten reading and basic addition out of the way…but there are still things like soccer and Shakespeare and tying your shoes. Oh….and to not rape.

If I’ve done my job, your appropriate response to that last item is “What the fuck, Mom?” (I will forgive you for cursing in my house this one time. It is fucking insane that I must tell you this).

Rape has been in the news a lot lately. While you have been enjoying your time in Pre-K, there have been politicians publically declaring different variations of rape…apparently some are more “legitimate” than others. Recently, a couple of high school football players in a small town in Ohio were on trial for raping a 16 year old girl. A lot of people are really sad about that, especially for the football players.

Yeah, another “What the fuck?!” is absolutely appropriate here, too.

You see, my dear perfectly behaved teenage son (I’m writing to the future you, so you’re still perfect), we currently live in a culture where rape is always the woman’s fault and men seem unable to be held responsible for their actions. I, like every woman and girl before me, have been taught since grade school to control ourselves so as to not tempt men…because if we do and they rape us, it’s our fault.

And, yes, it’s bullshit.

Raising a son has taught me there are definitely things that are unique to having a penis – but being a vile disrespectful idiot lacking impulse control is not one of them.

Let me make it perfectly clear, in spite of your high IQ, your hormones will cause you to do lots of stupid, stupid things. They will not, however, be an excuse to violate another person’s body or soul.

For boys, girls can be exciting, confusing and frustrating. This will continue until adulthood. You’ll never figure them out, enjoy the ride. Fortunately, you have a mom who can give you the inside scoop.

To start, there are a few things that are clear and are never up for negotiation when dealing with girls. Take heed:

  • If she’s wearing a short skirt, skimpy top and makes your penis feel funny – she is not a slut, a whore or any other derogatory term. She’s a human being in a short skirt, skimpy top and makes your penis feel funny. You do not have a right to disrespect her or otherwise violate her personal space. Say nothing, smile when you look at her and limit the stare to three seconds or less if you wish to avoid being known as creepy.
  • If that girl in the short skirt (or jeans, or sweatpants) has expressed interest in you and, perhaps, let’s you hold her hand or kiss her, this is not an invitation to go further. She is letting you hold her hand and kiss her. She’s just as nervous as you are. Don’t force the issue.
  • If she says no at any point of intimacy…respect her. Respect her and stop. Even if it’s at the worst…possible…moment. No means no. It doesn’t mean maybe. It means no. This means do not place your penis (or fingers or anything else) into any area of her body. No, not there. No…not there either. NOWHERE. She said no. STOP. Back away. I’ve had a few guys take a cold shower…I’m told it helps. I mean, I’ve heard, that guys take cold showers to help.
  • And if this girl IS saying yes, but is in any way incapacitated, i.e., drunk, on drugs or really upset because the guy she really wanted to sleep with just called her a whore…it’s still a no. The only thing to do in this situation is say, “Let’s get you home.” And then you call me to pick you both up.

True confession: I’m just as freaked out as you are right now that we have to talk about this. Until recent events, I truly thought that teaching you to be a decent and respectful person, that women are fellow human beings deserving of respect, that you should be respectful of yourself and your body, and that strength comes not through physical might, but through intellect and compassion would be enough to keep you from raping. I was not aware this is something that needed to be told to our boys.

So, today’s lesson is….do not rape. Ever. ¿Comprende?

Cool, now that’s off my list. Let me get back to that birthday party that I’m sure you still feel was the best ever.

Since you’re a teenager, I’m pretty sure your room is a mess and smells. Go clean it.



P.S.: I am keenly aware this letter is assuming you’re straight. However, should you be crushing on a boy, it’s cool. All of the above still applies.


4 thoughts on “Dear Teenage Son: Please, Don’t Rape

  1. Great post, Crystal. If I had a son to give this advice to I would add: When these things are happening to you a lot, it will be frustrating — and depending on the circumstances, possibly also embarrassing and humiliating. But no matter how angry you get, never think you have the right to punish any of the girls who give you these experiences, or any other girls, or anyone, for hurting your feelings. Not with violence, and not any other way either. You have to accept that they were not put on Earth to make you feel good and let them be.


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