Besides writing Amplify’s parent newsletter and blog, I also speak in the classroom to students. Someone asked me the other day about my most “shocking” moment. Right away I recalled something an 8th grade boy said when we were discussing “pressures” to have sex. One of the things that had come up was rape. This young man asked in all sincerity: “Is it still rape if she likes it?” I quickly pushed down the horror that I felt, and calmly answered that if it’s rape, it’s NEVER wanted or enjoyed. I went on to explain that ideas like that probably come into society through the avenue of pornography and other media. We went on to discuss more about the images that young people are seeing, and how they influence ideas on sex and relationships.
Just like that boy had been desensitized about rape, Hollywood has even gone so low as to portray a date rape scene as funny in the 2009 black “humor” movie, “Observe and Report.”
This is as good a time as any to have a talk about rape with your teen, particularly date/acquaintance rape.
How about a definition to start with: “The term acquaintance rape will be defined as being subjected to unwanted sexual intercourse, oral sex, anal sex, or other sexual contact through the use of force or threat of force. Unsuccessful attempts are also subsumed within the term “rape.” Sexual coercion is defined as unwanted sexual intercourse, or any other sexual contact subsequent to the use of menacing verbal pressure or misuse of authority (Koss, 1988).”
What kind of cautionary words should we give our teens? The same wise guidelines for being abstinent will also protect against sexual assault: After the obvious caution about alcohol use, avoid being anywhere all alone, and/or in the dark with anyone of the opposite sex. Even a childhood friend. One of my acquaintance’s daughters was almost raped by the “boy next door” in her own backyard one night, and only just managed to escape. Public places and daylight are a young person’s friends!