A few days ago, a young lad, no more than 20 years old, playfully reached out to touch my daughter’s hand as we walked through the mall. It was not in the least threatening, more playful than anything, but she did not take it well at all. She was furious and would probably have broken his wrist if she had not restrained herself (she was a national TaeKwonDo champion). I felt quite sorry for the lad, and then a Facebook friend pointed out to me, it is all to do with CONSENT. If you force your attention, be it physical or verbal, onto someone who does not want it, then it is abuse. You are crossing a boundary that you have no right crossing.
ITV recently started a six-part series called Liar about Laura, an ambitious teacher, and Andrew, a widowed surgeon. They are both very attractive and successful. Laura teaches Andrew’s son, and living in a small village, they run into each other socially. One evening, they decide to meet up for dinner, and one thing leads to another: they go off to bed happily with each other.
But in a scene that was not shown, something changed between the pair. The next morning, Laura accuses Andrew of rape. Andrew protests vehemently that it was consensual, and the last scene of the couple flirting would lead viewers to the same conclusion. You can read about the storyline here.….worth a read!
But what is rape?
As the law goes, a person is allowed to cry rape even if he/she voluntary goes to bed with the other party, removes his/her clothes readily and engages in foreplay but changes his/her mind at the last moment. Because no is always a no.
On the other side of the coin, there had been several cases in the UK where women have been charged with falsely accusing men of rape out of vendetta, vindictiveness or revenge. The accused’s life and career are ruined by the accusation and public trial, whilst the accuser is always protected by law guaranteeing anonymity. This law was intended to encourage rape victims to come forward but has, on occasions, been misused.
And almost always in rape cases, it is one person’s word against the other, and there are always two sides of the story.
But rather than be embroiled in another pointless (and potentially damaging) duality of male-vs-female, right-vs-wrong, etc, I would like to share some thoughts about how we can teach our children about boundaries:
- I think parents have to model it. Forcing a child to eat when he is full is crossing the boundary.
- Don’t force a child to kiss relatives he is not familiar with/reluctant to.
- Encourage children to speak confidently about what they find uncomfortable or unpleasant.
- Allow them to have space.
- Teach your child, if his or her friend does not want to hold hands or cuddle, leave the friend alone.
- If you have teenage children, explain to them about the rights of the other party. Discuss.
Main photo: Main characters of Liar (ITV)