On Raising Girls & Raising Boys

This morning I noticed the lead on the network news was the 5 NFL football players who entered the field with their arms up, as a show of support for what is happening in Ferguson. What struck me was this:Here

Photo Courtesy Associated Press

Photo Courtesy Associated Press

were very influential men using their platform to continue a conversation, to make a statement, to influence others.

Step away from your own personal opinion on what they did and Ferguson for a moment to just consider the impact of NFL players using their platform in a very organic way to make a statement, to influence others. It was very authentic. Teams running onto a field in pink shoes. That ain’t authentic.

Five players on national TV making a statement on something they believe in, without saying a word? That is the sort of influence you can’t buy, you can’t plan for and you can’t manufacture, it’s real and it’s tremendous.  And it worked. Everyone is talking about it.

And then my mind started swirling around all the stories about violence against women right here in our country over the last two weeks. The year 2015 is tapping us on the shoulders and yet we are all stunned and shocked by the brutal gang rape of a UVa student during a frat party.

It could be any year with that story. Pick a year. It happened then too.

Where are the NFL players taking a stand with no one pushing them along?

Where are the Hollywood stars?

Where are the NBA players? The political leaders who once pledge a fraternity?

Who is organically leading a movement, who with a tremendous platform to influence MEN, is leading the movement of repulsion for raping women?

This is what turning 9 looks like.

This is what turning 9 looks like.

Because my daughter turned 9 in November. Which arthritis means we’re half way through with her living with us. I blinked and 9 years passed. I will blink again and 9 more years will pass.

Will I be sending her off to college, teaching her how not to get raped, in 9 more years?

What about all the other boys who just turned 9 too? Or just turned 10 or 11? They are going off to college when she is, what will they learn, how will they be influenced? Are their parents worrying and fretting about this issue?

Women were raped at college 9 years ago, 19 years ago and 29 years ago. So right now I am worrying about sending her off in 9 years and having many many hard conversations with her.

Don’t take a drink that you didn’t get yourself.

Don’t go upstairs in a frat house.

Don’t walk alone at night.

Don’t drink too much and lose control.

I keep the running list in my head each time one of these horrific stories breaks. I have 9 more years to perfect my list.

But see, that isn’t enough. It isn’t nearly enough.

This is a conversation about men and boys.  And their parents. And their peers. And their uncles, grandfathers and their idols.

Until we hear from them over and over and over again, spontaneously at the start of an NFL game being broadcast on national TV or at the start of a music concert from their favorite musicians and during a press conference, and any other time you can think of, that raping women is repugnant, evil and makes you a pathetic human being, the scum of the earth, then it won’t stop. Then I will be sending my daughter off in 9 years, hoping she hears my lectures on how not to be raped.

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