A few hours ago, my delightful, thoughtful, almost-eight-and-a-half year old son asked, “How do you rape?” We were watching The Food Network and there was a commercial for some show on some other channel. In the commercial someone yelled out, “He raped me!” Tyler innocently asked how that happens. Gracie and Jace looked up too.
I’ve always answered every question they’ve asked honestly and openly. I’ve waded through every subject from how babies get out of their mothers to why boys don’t have periods to why poop looks different sometimes to arm pit hair. I’m fairly bold and confident in my answers. I give them a little and wait for follow up. But today I froze.
A thousand different answers screamed in my head. I pushed back tears because I didn’t want to have to explain them on top of defining rape. Eventually I said that rape has different definitions in different states but that basically it’s forcing someone to do something sexual that they don’t want to do.
“Why would somebody do that? Huh.” And off he ran to play Legos or something.
And there I sat. A mix of emotions. And saved by the bell, time to go make dinner and not think about what Gracie and Jace might be wondering. Did they have follow up questions? Did they notice how tense I was? Did they understand why I don’t let them wrestle or tickle or with any thing keep going after someone has said to stop? Why am I still thinking about this?
Deep breaths. Long, deep breaths.
So I tried to think about other things…like writing. And started thinking about topics people have suggested I write about. One is politics. But even that took me back to this gut-wrenching subject. And I thought, “How can we ever expect to unite as a country over a presidential candidate or as a world over anything when the very basic notion of rape is not universal thing?”
There are people that think there is no rape in marriage. There are states that don’t call forced oral sex rape. There are adults that didn’t realize it would be rape if one party is passed out, drugged, or asleep. If we cannot agree on this – something so simple and obvious in my mind, why are we surprised that we can’t agree on anything else?
Le sigh. Sighing always sounds better in French. Weak smile.
By this point we were on our way to the Y for the night’s activities and I flipped through radio stations unable to find a song that sat right with me. So we listened to more commercials and I was thankful for the relative innocence of radio ads versus television ads. Why do TV ads need to be so forward? There’s one for a movie about a woman hired to babysit a doll who kills people or some scary nonsense like that. Not G rated, in my opinion. Down right frightening. And the one we saw today and the ones that talk about erections lasting more than four hours or the ones where you can call their specific number if you’re looking for an Eastern European girlfriend or some ridiculousness. Where’s the beef? My bologna has a first name. Can you hear me now? What would you do for a Klondike Bar? Mikey likes it! And for the love of all things holy, Calgon, take me away.
Seriously, a commercial that shouts, “He raped me!” in the middle of a cooking challenge show? Really, people?
I guess so. I guess I’m going to have to figure out how to get over the gut-punch and share with my kids what rape means to me…sometime…so that even if the world can’t agree, maybe we can. Maybe they can see why I feel so strongly about not forcing people to do anything they don’t want to do, especially something sexual. Maybe that will help us handle these loud-mouthed commercials when the TV throws them our way!
Le sigh. French sighing again.
And then, as I’m pulling into my parking space, Disturbed’s cover of Sounds of Silence comes on the radio. I decided to sit and listen to it and cried. Head against the steering wheel, sobbing under my sunglasses. When it ended I took a lot of deep breaths. I dried my eyes on my shirt because the children keep forgetting to put more tissues in the car. And I came into the Y with my puffy eyes to ride the bike for a bit and write.
And whilst I sat at the table typing a someone I know sat down and I asked how he was, thankful for the break from my thoughts. Know what he said? “I’m having a tough day.” Know the story he told me? A story about rape. It would be funny if it wasn’t so not-funny.
So, we chatted a bit, then I came back to typing. I ate a few peanut butter M&Ms and drank some water from my new water bottle – the kids broke my last one. I’m ready for bed. What about you?
And it’s only Tuesday.