Respect Starts Here and Now

We threw away our Victoria’s Secret catalogs.

I also got rid of my Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.  I’ll look around later and make sure that we are rid of all magazines, catalogs and other items  that feature women dressed or partially dressed in their underwear or “bathing suits.”

This is happening because this week four more people were indicted in the Stuebenville, Ohio case where two 17-year-old young men were convicted for gang raping a drunk teenage girl in front of camera phone-wielding witnesses. This really hit home for me because, also this week, my 3-year-old asked his mom if he could look at the “naked girl magazine” that she was holding.  It was a Victoria’s Secret catalog in a stack of mail.

We had several catalogs.  This time of year the mail is full of them.  I also had a swimsuit issue from earlier this year in the magazine rack.  I never really thought about them.  They were just kind of there.  We didn’t pay attention to them, but apparently the boys were.  The are gone now.

I don’t know for sure that there is any corelation whatsoever in the Steubenville case (Google Steubenville Rape Case and you get all the horrifying details)  and sexual content in sports magazines and lingerie catalogs, but I know that we live in a society where it is ok to present women as sexual objects.  The media that presents these images don’t really care if my kids see them and how those images effect their attitude towards women.  They would tell you that it is my job to control what my kids see and shape their attitudes towards women and people in general.  They are right.  So, in my house anyway, this crap stops right here . . .  right now..

If I sound angry, it’s because I am.  I am angry because the four people recently indicted are a school superintendent, a teacher and two of the young men’s football coaches.  The fact that the two boys were star football players plays a huge role in this case.  Like I said, Google it.  I am angry because all of these adults are charged with knowing about the rape and either not reporting it or trying to cover it up.

Mostly I am angry at myself because I didn’t see what was happening around me.  Don’t get me wrong.   I am not saying that my boys were destined to be abusers because they looked at naked girls in a magazine.  What I am saying is that it’s my job to make sure that my sons learn to respect not just women, but everybody they come in contact with.  Our society says it’s ok to present scantily clad women into their worlds.  It’s my job to make sure they learn perspective.  I don’t think letting magazines and catalogs like this lay around my house was a good way to start the process of respect.

It would be a little different if the Steubenville case were isolated.  It’s not.  The newpaper archives are full of stories like this involving very young men.  Just as concerning, in my opinion, is the complete lack of compassion in the Steubenville rape witnesses.  Reports say perhaps dozens of young people witnessed the assault and reached for their phones when they saw what was happening . . . and pressed record instead of 911.  In fact the case wasn’t prosecuted until hackers and other online “investigators” found the images and evidence of a cover up.  What gives people the idea that this behavior is acceptable?  The idea that it is ok to take advantage of a drunk girl or watch somebody take advantage of a drunk girl doesn’t end with the items in my garbage can, but maybe it starts there.

There are other details to the Steubenville story.  Supporters of the young men pointed out that the 17-year-old girl was drunk.  True.  They point out that she didn’t immediately report the rape.  Might be true, I don’t know.  I guess my view is that regardless of how this math problem is solved the answer is that having sex with a girl too drunk to say no is rape.  I am upset and sad that my sons, and my nieces for that matter, are going out into a world where that isn’t common knowledge.  It’s my job to make sure my boys understand.

I remember hearing something years ago that has stuck with me.  I can’t remember who it was, but somebody said that young men don’t learn how to respect women from women . . . they learn how respect women from the men in their lives.  That makes sense to me.  Around here respect starts with a little house cleaning.

Thanks for reading.  Happy Thanksgiving and we’ll see you again soon on This Side of the Diaper.

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