The lessons of Steubenville.

Last weekend, the wife hit her 30th week of pregnancy.  This means that in about two months give or take we’re going to officially be parents; I don’t know whether to start handing out cigars or start snorting Xanax.

Don’t get me wrong – I am overjoyed that I’m getting the opportunity to be a dad.  The wife and I thought that we would never be able to have kids due to a whole host of medical issues, but it seems that the Powers That Be have decided to grant us the one thing in life that we never thought would be even a remote possibility, and I am overwhelmed with gratitude.  At the same time, I have some serious fears about raising a daughter in this day and age (yes, it’s a girl), and the latest out of Steubenville makes me want to seriously consider building a tower and letting my soon-to-be little girl’s hair grow out twenty or thirty feet.

I know I won’t be able to keep my daughter completely from harm as she grows up.  Skinned knees and broken hearts are something we have all had to live through as both children and adults, and I see no way to spare her these indignities short of raising her like a veal.  Still, when I hear the stories of how that poor 16 year old girl was victimized and abused by those football players – and how she’s still the victim of all sorts of abuse even after the fact – this fills me with dread as to how society will develop over the next sixteen years.  Shaming the victim as a slut, proclaiming she was “asking for it,” and outright sympathizing with the two high school football players that were indicted for rape is absolutely unconscionable when it’s done by the general populace, and it’s made even worse when major news outlets echo these sentiments in any way, shape, or form whatsoever.

It’s one thing to raise your daughter to think abut the choices she makes and not take unnecessary risks with her personal safety, and that includes making sure that she understands that she may very well attract unwanted attention if she dresses in a way that’s interpreted as provocative.  At the same time, the parents of young men have just as much responsibility to instill in their sons that just because they’re physically larger doesn’t give them the right to exert that strength over those who are unable to defend themselves, and that taking advantage of the helpless is morally abhorrent as it is completely illegal; on top of that, boys need to be taught that just because someone dresses “provocatively” doesn’t give you or anyone else  the right to physically or emotionally violate them, much less film it on your mobile phone and post the results to YouTube.

I don’t know where this “Might Makes Right” sentiment is coming from, as I certainly wasn’t raised in this manner, and neither was my brother.  Yes, we make more than our fair share of off-color jokes from time to time, but when it comes down to brass tacks we’ve never used our status as males to exert immoral and unlawful levels of power over anyone, let alone someone physically weaker than us or without the ability to defend themselves.  On top of that, we both won’t stand to see it happen in our presence, which is something that apparently differentiates us from the entirety of the  population of one particular town in Ohio; the fact that not one Steubenville student at that party stepped forward to stop what was happening to that poor girl speaks volumes on the lack of compassion and empathy towards the helpless in that community, and as far as I’m concerned the parents of every single student at that party that never told their children to stand up for those who can’t do so themselves are utter and complete failures.

I don’t know much about being a good parent just yet, but I sure as hell can tell you how not to be a bad one.

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6 thoughts on “The lessons of Steubenville.

  1. While I agree with you, I think you’re missing a key element – it’s not so much “might makes right” as it is a segment of men who believe women’s bodies are theirs to use. Which explains so often why these men are regarded by their community as “model citizens” and unfortunately are then defended despite those actions.

    • First of all hi Erin, nice to hear from you!

      I hear what you’re saying about men (or boys) that have been raised with the belief that they have the right to do what they want to women, but I don’t know if it can be specifically attributed to misogyny or anti-feminism per se. Misogyny seems to be more of a symptom of a more underlying social disorder – the same one that leads to behavior like bullying in children and corporate/political corruption in adults – and the same behavior that somehow ends up making these children (and later adults) as being held up as these “model” citizens like the football star or the Senator/CEO.

      If we can change society to no longer laud all of these behaviors – bullying, misogyny, et al. – I think that would get at the root of the problem. Encouraging a younger generation to speak out and not stand for that kind of behavior when confronted with it is just one way we can hopefully stop that from happening.

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