If it is wrong don’t accept it as inevitable

School finished yesterday for the Easter holidays; a two week break from routine that we all welcome. I worry about the constant pressure that today’s children are put under with their coursework deadlines, controlled assessments and exam preparation. It sometimes seems that if they take time out to have some fun then they start to fall behind at school.

I have had some interesting conversations with other local mothers recently regarding how their children spend the free time that they make for themselves. Some of these kids worry their parents because they only seem to socialise in school. At home it is all home work, television and computer games; the X box seems to be the current gaming machine of choice, I guess the fighting and the racing offers a release. Other kids do go out to socialise with friends but frequent the regular, massive parties where drink, sex and, increasingly, drugs are prevalent. Most of these kids are still legally underage. They go because they want to be seen to be in with the crowd. They want to be accepted and to be seen to be cool.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been reading a lot this week about the Steubenville rape trial. This morning I read this post and it made me feel uncomfortable Confronting Rape Culture in Our Own Backyard | Rant Against the Random. I have been trying to process my discomfort and I think it is because I am guilty of just accepting as normal some of the stuff that is being discussed here. I will say that again; I am guilty of accepting rape culture as normal.

When other mothers tell me about the teenage parties that are regular occurrences I am guilty of showing interest in the gossip but not expressing any disapprobation. I am allowing myself to feel arrogantly smug that my own children do not attend such events. I am accepting that this sort of thing happens and not showing basic compassion for the kids who feel that this is the best way to have fun. I am not considering how my tacit acceptance of the normality of this situation makes me complicit in it’s perpetuation.

I have no wish to try to grab some arbitrary moral high ground here. I am not trying to say that what most of these kids are doing is evil, or that parents are dreadful for allowing it to happen. I know that a good number of the young people are going out, having fun, maybe drinking a bit too much, and I am not trying to condemn them. What I am uncomfortable with is the idea that after the drink and maybe the drugs there is an expectation amongst a section of this crowd that sex follows and that this is okay; that this is part of the fun. Are we raising our boys to consider girls as some sort of sex toy and allowing our girls to just accept this?

I have tried to raise my children in an environment where they can feel able to talk to me about anything without fear of retribution. I wonder if I have avoided expressing my dismay at some of their peers actions for fear of being seen as an old fuddy duddy. I know that I seem ancient to them already, but I want them to feel that I can empathise with at least some of the issues that they must square up to daily. Teenagers will often feel that they know best and that adults do not understand their lives. I do not want to appear so out of touch that they consider talking things through with me to be a waste of time.

Child rearing can only truly be learnt from experience and parents must learn as they go along what works best for their kids. There will always be plenty of people who will be only too willing to offer what they see as a solution. Given the hate filled, name calling, bile that has appeared in some of the commentary on Steubenville this week I am wary of other people’s opinions. I do, however, want to discuss this with my children. I think it is such an important issue that we shouldn’t just be taking an interest and then moving on as we do with so many news stories.

This post raised a lot of good points that I think are worth discussing  Don’t Shut Up About Rape Culture | The Grumpy Giraffe. I baulk at the idea of a discussion with my children on this subject but if I am to take responsibility (and it is my responsibility) then I need to try.

We need to be telling our children that they should not be making assumptions based on what they think society and their peers expect. They will know when the girl or boy they are with wants sex when that person tells them that they want sex (if they are incapable of responding coherently then help them to get home or to a safe place). If our kids think that they are old enough for sex then they are old enough to ask the question. And, most importantly, it is okay for either party to answer that question with a no.

75/365  -  [i am guilty]


Opinions and comments

Oh dear. I seem to have rattled a few cages with some of my recent posts. Although not my intention, it is an obvious risk when I write as I do. It is fine for me to say that this is my blog and I will write as I wish, but I put links to my posts on my Facebook page and my Twitter feed, thus offering them up to the people who have got to know me outside of the internet. It can be difficult to square my wish to write as openly as I can with my wish to be sensitive to the feelings of those who may recognise the people and events I refer to. Remember readers, this blog is a collection of my thoughts and opinions on a mix of random topics. Just as a conversation can reveal differences in views amongst friends, so my interpretation of events as put down here is likely to differ from how others may have experienced the same situation.

Another of the perils of writing such a personal blog is the risk of becoming narcissistic. I read this very funny post yesterday How To Write A Blog: 10 Obligatory Blog Posts Every Blogger Has To Write At Least Once | The Official How To Blog. which made me both laugh and cringe at my own guilt on a few of the points mentioned. I think we should all be able to laugh at ourselves from time to time. I will try hard not to take my writing too seriously; please feel free to do the same!

In keeping up with current affairs I do develop opinions on some serious topics, but rarely feel competent enough to comment immediately and directly. I seem to need time to mull over what I am thinking; to put my thoughts in some sort of order. Having written a general post on societies acceptance of women being at fault if they are sexually assaulted  (The unacceptable passing remark « neverimitate.), I read with interest the various newspaper comments and blog posts on the Steubenville case in America and the rape culture that is prevalent and accepted there. Two that stood out were I Am Not Your Wife, Sister or Daughter. I Am A Person. | The Belle Jar. and Listen to Steubenville Because It Speaks | Banjos and Bordeaux. The apologists for the perpetrators of this crime make me despair, but at least there is now a debate going on. Let me know what you think of these posts.

I started this blog as a way of taming the jumble of thoughts that were rambling around inside my head. Just as I start my spring cleaning at home with a good clear out, so writing my thoughts down in this way is helping me to restore order; I have found it very therapeutic. It is always interesting to know what people think of what I write and I welcome the comments that I get, especially as the majority of them have been encouraging, constructive and reflective. I have had to put up with just the one troll but I guess that is another peril that can be hard to avoid if publishing publicly. Just as in the outside world most people will behave reasonably most of the time, so on a blog the vast majority of readers can be welcomed.

I don’t plan to stop writing and I do hope that people keep reading. I also realise that I have just written a blog post about writing a blog post which must count as one of my 10. I’m working my way through that list nicely.