Socializing girls to become victims.

14 Nov

Originally posted to the Community section of MyMedia.
Added content at the end.

Why does it take women so long to speak up about sexual assault?

Oh let me count the reasons.

Harvey Weinstein hired people to threaten some of his victims.

Roy Moore has ridiculed those of his victims who have spoken up on national TV, and Breitbart has announced that they are sending two ‘reporters’ down to Alabama with the specific goal of ‘finding dirt’ on them.

One of the things being trotted out is that at least one of these women has married/divorced three times, and has declared bankruptcy at some point.¹ I mean, who would think that being sexually abused as a child would have negative effects on the child’s development? What a freaking concept.

Beyond the fear, constantly reinforced, that there will be real consequences (rape and death threats are not uncommon), or that victims will not be believed, even by close family members, there are many other reasons women don’t come forward for years, if ever.

One of them is how girls are socialized to have no boundaries.

How many of us were told to give uncle/grandfather/family friend/kindly person on the street a hug and a kiss during family visits/the holidays/whatever the occasion or reason?

I know I was forced to allow physical contact from people who gave me the serious creeps from a very early age. The same went for my sister. My brothers, however, were allowed the manly handshake, or the smile and nod, without being called to task for lack of manners.

Girls grow up internalizing the idea that they do not get to define their personal boundaries–not physically, not emotionally. It takes years, if it ever happens, to overcome this subtle and pervasive conditioning.

And this conditioning affects our ability to understand consent–for both women and men.

It teaches boys that when they are men they don’t have to respect women’s boundaries.

It teaches girls that, when they become women, they must defer to men’s definition of their own boundaries.

“The notion of consent may seem very grown-up and like something that doesn’t pertain to children,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, “but the lessons girls learn when they’re young about setting physical boundaries and expecting them to be respected last a lifetime, and can influence how she feels about herself and her body as she gets older. Plus, sadly, we know that some adults prey on children, and teaching your daughter about consent early on can help her understand her rights, know when lines are being crossed, and when to go to you for help.”

~ * ~

Years ago, there was a discussion on rape at MyMedia.² One of the people who commented, and, in fact, argued passionately with me about how women had to be more careful and demure to protect themselves from men, shared her own experience with date rape. Only, as far as she was concerned, it wasn’t rape, and it was her fault, because she ‘led him on’–by accepting a dinner invitation.

She felt that by accepting a man’s invitation to dinner, she was essentially responsible when the man in question started pressuring her for sex; when he didn’t accept her ‘no, I don’t want to have sex with you;’ when he entered her house, and proceeded to rape her.

She was an adult, divorced with teenage daughters, and still she defended the man who raped her to me.

This is how much women internalize the fact that our bodies are not our own.

On the same breath, this woman said how she was teaching her daughters to protect themselves by not dressing provocatively, or going to dangerous places, or being out late at night.

This is how much women internalize the thinking that men’s violence towards us, is of our own doing.

This is where too many of us are. This is what we don’t want for our children, and our children’s children.

And so, we need to start by teaching them that they have the right to set boundaries, and then, we must respect those boundaries.

~ * ~

¹ but gee, if it’s a white orange-tinted dude with this history, it’s perfectly reasonable to elect him to the White House. No white male privilege there, no siree.

² I am not linking to the discussion; I am citing her story as an example of phenomenon that is far too common, and that is the direct result of this socialization of girls as less than full human beings.

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4 Responses to “Socializing girls to become victims.”

  1. willaful 14/11/2017 at 2:29 PM #

    Argh. The “he/she was no angel” narrative is generally terrible, but *especially* in this situation.

    • azteclady 14/11/2017 at 2:33 PM #

      Yes.

      Have you read this piece? “Instead of mourning great art tainted by awful men, mourn the work we lost from their victims.”

  2. Helen R-S 16/11/2017 at 5:40 AM #

    Most people I know with kids (both girls and boys) now are teaching them that they _don’t_ have to kiss/hug anyone if they don’t want to – your body, your choice. As one of my friends said, he could ask a _two year old_ to have the maturity to put aside his feelings* and kiss Great-Auntie so that she didn’t get upset…or he could ask the _actual adult_ to be mature enough to accept that sometimes she wouldn’t get a kiss from a temperamental toddler. It’s a no-brainer, really.

    *My friend also said that he wanted to ensure that the kids knew that their feelings were the most important thing, so that if they ever did find themselves in a situation with a predator they hopefully wouldn’t ignore that intuition and would feel comfortable saying no.

  3. Bona 18/11/2017 at 4:58 AM #

    Keep on posting these things. How women that denounce sexual assaults are treated is something that makes me sick but we have to be well aware of this.

    These days there’s a trial in Spain in which a group of young men (who called themselves ‘la manada’) went to the sanfermines in Pamplona and they have been accused of looking for a girl to rape and they found one. Well, the defendants put this girl under the surveillance of a private eye in order to put her in a bad light before the court and she was asked why didn’t she defend herself with enough strenghth and -well, those things make me sick as well. You can see any news related to this if you google ‘juicio a la manada’. So you see, it happens everywhere.

    About the other thing you mention, physical contact, I just hate everybody giving me two cheek kisses, one each cheek, and when you say hello and when you say goodbye. So four not wanted kisses each time you meet somebody. Not only among family (which is something I understand) but also in a professional enviroment! With my boss and partners and everybody, men and women alike. I usually give my hand but people tend to use it to force me to go nearer them -and kiss me. You could say, well, if it’s men and women it doesn’t matter, because Russian men do kiss each other too. But no! Spanish men do not say hello or goodbye in this fashion. Only if they are family. I. Just. Hate. It.

    In contrast, my closest girlfriends (who could be the ones I could cheek kiss more comfortably) do not usually greet each other this way.

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