Kindergarten Rape Culture (Brock's in Training)

"I'm gonna marry her. I'm in love with her," said a little boy at my 6-year old daughter's school.

We were standing in line waiting to get the cafeteria lunch.

All I could muster up in that moment to that little boy was, "Nope. No, you're not."

I was trying to carefully choose my words on that special day. It was the first time I came to eat lunch with my daughter at school. All of the other mommies who don't work, do it regularly (as my daughter told me a hundred times). I wanted it to be a good, fun lunch. I didn't want to ruin it. I didn't want to make her uncomfortable.

But, as I gauged her reaction, she already was. Not with me. With him.

THIS is rape culture. This is the environment that allowed Brock Turner to grow into the monster rapist he is.

Later that afternoon when my daughter came home from school I inquired about her friend's name. I was trying to sound nonchalant about my questions.

What's his name?

What does he like to play at school?

I didn't want to be invasive. I didn't want to make a big deal out of something that might not be. I didn't want to come off as concerned (even though I was). But, you know kids, they can read right through that shit. Still, I was determined to get her to open up. And I didn't want to make her feel like SHE did anything wrong.

If anything, in all of my years of interviewing people as a journalist I've learned that if you start with the easy questions off the top, your subjects will quickly build a rapport with you - and spill their guts. It's human nature. And so - she went.

My daughter  looked at me quizzically and said, "He calls me 'sexy baby,' but I don't even know what that means."

By her saying 'I don't know what that means' with one eyebrow up - I knew she was baiting me. She knew what it meant. Maybe not the exact definition. But she understood the social cue. She knew it was sexual. She knew it was wrong. She knew it was inappropriate. My daughter was looking to me, for my reaction, to help her navigate through her own feelings about it. She was clearly trying to make sense of it too.

Naturally, I fucking exploded.

I explained to her that it was completely unacceptable for her classmate to be calling her "sexy baby." I told her that if she was feeling uncomfortable, she should tell her teacher when it happens first. Then tell me. My daughter interrupted me.

"I did tell my teacher."

I was blindsided. No one told me. The parent.

THIS IS RAPE CULTURE.

After my kid went to bed I sent a blunt but firm e-mail to both her teacher and the school principal. I explained that it's unacceptable for the boy to be calling my 6-year old daughter "sexy baby." I told them she's uncomfortable. And she obviously didn't like it because she told the teacher about it. I then asked what would be done to prevent this from happening again. I told both the teacher and the principal to call me ASAP.

Three days later I get a call from the principal. He explains to me that he can't tell me what was done to handle the situation because of privacy issues, but rest assured it has been handled.

THIS IS RAPE CULTURE.

ME: "Uhhhh, has it been handled sufficiently?" "How will I be able to judge if I think the situation has been handled, if you won't tell me how exactly it was handled?"

Principal: "If it were the other way around and it was your daughter that had a complaint against her of this nature, we'd call you."

That was my explanation.

To make matters worse, the principal offered his "expert" opinion on the matter.

"I'm sure he didn't mean it. I'm sure he didn't know what he was saying. Kids hear stuff on TV, in songs and they say it. They don't know what it means."

Right. With that, I cut the conversation off. I wasn't about to be mansplained about the influence of media on children. I got that brah.

THIS IS RAPE CULTURE.

A month later, my daughter comes home with a card from the same classmate. In it, he draws two stick figures holding hands. There are hearts on the card. He wrote "I Love You" in the inside.

My daughter bashfully hands the card over to me as we go through her backpack together at night.

"What's this?" I ask her.

"That boy in my class says he loves me. He called me 'mamacita,'" my daughter says with the same insecure, timid look as before.

"I explain - he's not supposed to be saying anything like that to you. Calling you 'mamacita' is not appropriate. I'm going to have to talk to your teacher again."

Mamacita is the perversion of "Little Mama" in Spanish when a guy says it to a girl. By calling her "mamacita" he's implying she's hot and sexy.

With that - I emailed the principal and teacher again and requested a face-to-face meeting.

At the meeting, I was fed more of the same bullshit I was fed on the phone. I was told the kid must hear it in lyrics. Or on TV.

THIS IS RAPE CULTURE.

I explained, "You do realize I cuss and use profanity FOR A LIVING and my kids don't go around school calling everyone bitches, assholes and fuckheads right?"

The difference? My kids have learned respect for other human beings. They know what is appropriate to say to another person, and what is not.

The clincher was when my daughter's female teacher tried to school me on the matter. She tried to belittle my claims. And invalidate my feelings on the incidents.

"You know, your daughter made a card for him too."

I said, "You're right. I remember. She made one for his birthday. She makes a card for ALL of her friends' birthdays."

THIS IS RAPE CULTURE.

This boy in kindergarten was giving UNWANTED attention to my daughter repeatedly. This boy was giving sexual attention to my daughter at 6-years old. HE was making her feel uncomfortable at school.

The principal was drinking some contaminated cultural Kool-Aid that blames this little boy's behavior on TV and song lyrics. I BLAME HIS PARENTS. THEY ARE RAPE CULTURE.

Clearly, they haven't taught their son to respect girls, women and human beings. They haven't taught him the right way to speak to a girl. They must be exemplifying and applauding this deplorable and damaging behavior at home.

Mister principal, after the second offense, why wasn't I brought in for a meeting with the little boy's parents? Why wasn't it even a consideration to have the boy removed from the class and placed elsewhere? Why are you not sending the message to the parents and to the boy, that this type of rhetoric and behavior will NOT be tolerated. That my daughter and her feelings MATTER. That her education MATTERS.

THIS IS RAPE CULTURE.

And female kindergarten teacher - You bringing up a birthday card that my kid made for her harassing classmate, and comparing it to the I-LOVE-YOU-RED-LIGHT-FUCKING-SPECIAL card he made for her - you are invalidating my daughter. You are not allowing her to be heard. You are attempting to invalidate me. THIS IS RAPE CULTURE.

Brock Turner, his tone-deaf father and the unforgivable judge have proven what I've feared all along. Women are second-class citizens. We will not be heard. The assaults against us will be twisted to exonerate the guilty. Our drinking, promiscuity and walking-while-being-female will be blamed.

And while the Stanford rape case has confirmed all of the things I'm afraid of for my daughters - it's also surprised me in a very good way.

WE ARE SPEAKING OUT. Our voices coming together, our stories and our solidarity with the survivor and all survivors, is the most powerful thing we've done. We're being heard. And we're loud. And it's great.

I see the outrage and I smile. Maybe, my daughters won't have to endure rape culture for much longer. Maybe the adults around them can learn how to conduct themselves properly. Maybe my girls can grow up in a world where they don't fear walking to their cars at night. Or fear the cable guy coming to the house to fix the internet. Or fear the boy in their class.

Maybe instead, the world fears US. And our voices. And shakes at the condemnation we will bring upon anyone, that fucks with us again.




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