Yesterday my cousin came home from school with a look on his face I had not seen in a while. At first I thought he had gotten into another fight. The other kids make fun of him because of his voice.
But that is not why he is pissed.
He paces as he tells me how his class had a guest speaker: a rape counselor. I already know what is coming. I can see it in my cousin’s eyes that half his class had to sit there and take the blame.
Yet that is not why he is pissed either.
My cousin rarely cries. I figure he picked that up from one of us. But now he is practically in tears. Why? Because the class assignment was for them to write about their experiences with the causes of rape. The girls had to write about times they felt “pressured” by boys. And the boys… well, they had to write about times they tried to “force” themselves on girls. Not pressure them, force them.
I have known my cousin his whole life. I have never once seen him attempt to force anyone to do anything. Until the fights started, he was one of the most passive people I have known. So to demand that he write about how he has tried to “force” himself on girls is just a flat out insult.
But even that is not why he is pissed.
I notice how he stops making eye contact with me. All the blood that had rushed to his face flows away. His expression becomes completely dead. And that only happens when he talks about “it.” I have always told him that if he ever wants to talk about it he could come to me anytime. He rarely does.
This time, he cannot help it.
He says that he wrote about my aunt, and then he looks up at me with a dead face and says the woman called him a liar. As he explains, after they had finished their assignments the class had to volunteer to share their stories. After a handful of boys said they had not done anything, the guest speaker changed the criteria. If a boy had put his arm around a girl, got close enough to kiss her, or shouted something childish like, “You lookin’ hot!”, that could be an example of the “forcing” themselves on girls.
My cousin’s teacher calls on him (apparently the volunteering part was over), knowing about his history, and so he stands and says that he has never tried to force a girl to do anything, but he has been forced before. He talks about the abuse my aunt put him through and the way some girls treat him.
The guest speaker was livid. Not just because he dared to accuse a woman of abusing him, or because he dared to say girls had been pressuring him, but because some other boys got up the courage to say the same thing. They listed instances where girls had pressured them. The response was to berate and beat down a boy, to call him a liar, and do it in front of his teacher who did nothing about it.
It is difficult not to just launch into this “counselor.” The sadpart is that this woman’s actions are typical. Her views are the views of rape centers. Instead of teaching kids to respect each other and not cross anyone’s boundaries, this woman played the blame game with children.
Is this really where feminism is leading us? To accusing children of rape for cat calls and a few arms around the shoulder? To lambasting boys for having the courage to say “I’ve never done it, but it’s been done to me.”
It is this is the sort of feminist trite that keeps boys silent. I wonder how many of the boys in that class have been abused. I wonder how many of them have been raped. I wonder how many of them go home to a house full of violence and say to themselves, “I won’t be like this when I grow up” only to have someone like this woman say, “You have a penis. Yes you will.”