I would not want to be family or friends of the Stanford Rapist right now. Not only would I be way too closely connected to a disgusting piece of trash, I would also be part of the problem: excusing boys from gender-based abuse.
Standford Rapist Who Can Swim
There is a hell of a lot of passionate opinions around regarding the Stanford Rapist Who Can Swim, and rightly so. It’s not just the vicious crime he committed, but his total lack of remorse and the complete injustice given for the victim. Serious WTF moment which I am GLAD is going viral. It is prompting a discussion that needs to be louder and longer. Clearly, public outrage is not enough, or it would have stopped after Steubenville. FFS, how many rapes need to happen before we, as a community, stop comparing a boy’s future to a girl’s past? No. Don’t answer that.
One of the contentious issues are the letters from the Rapist’s family trying to excuse the Rapist’s actions. Apparently, this whole “ugly affair” was too much for the Rapist and his family. Apparently, it was all a consequence of alcohol. Apparently, he could even claim a defense of “affluenza”–an inability to understand the consequences of his actions due to his financial privilege.
THIS is part of the problem. Complete disregard for the impact on the victim. I would say this kind of “excusing” and entitlement has been going on for some time in that family. The Letters of Excuse was a family affair: parents, grandparents, a sister, a cousin, a friend. All part of the problem. All complicit to the crime after the fact.
So how early do kids learn it’s okay to have this level of gender-based violence?
Answer: Far earlier than you think.
My Personal Example
Let me share my experience from earlier this week. Yes, just this week.
I have been checking out a local playgroup for 2-year-old Zaltu. She’s not old enough for preschool but she is in need of a bit more social and intellectual stimulation. Local playgroups are often good places to start.
A few weeks ago, we attended the local group. During the session, I noted two boys (about 4 years old) riding trikes around. They started circling and intentionally crashing into a slightly younger boy. Multiple times, with no parental or staff intervention.
That is until I stood up and told them to give him space. Only then did one of the parents approach me and excused “he had a rough night and is just a little over-excited today.”
I thought, weird, but let’s just keep observing. Zaltu had fun, and we left after the session thinking nothing of the minor event.
The next time we attended was this week. Zaltu was excited and kept asking all the way “Are we there yet?” It’s a 5-minute walk filled with 50 minutes of toddler anticipation.
There’s a glass door separating the foyer from the playgroup area. As we walked up, the two boys from last time rode their trikes right up to the glass door and crashed into it.
First reaction: Watch out, kids!! You could break the door! But there was no parent saying that, except me.
And then they crashed it again. And again. Intentionally.
One of the kids then looked directly at Zaltu through the glass door and yelled “I’m going to kill you. Kill you!! I’m going to get you!”
The second child echoed him, “Yeah. Kill her. Get her.”
Zaltu is verbally advanced enough to know exactly what they were saying and know exactly what those words mean. She was terrified.
Of course, I approached the parents (one being the coordinator) straight away and told them what had happened.
Fortunately, they recognized how wrong this was.
Unfortunately, their response was you know how boys are.
You Know How Boys Are
There you go, folks. These boys were already learning at 4 years of age (at least) that intimidating a girl, telling her you are going to kill her, is okay because they are boys.
You Know How Boys Are
Already, these mums were teaching their boys it was okay for them to act in an abusive manner because others will forgive them because they are boys.
You Know How Boys Are
And these mums were showing my daughter it was her fault, and she was not understanding enough because her abusers were boys. Essentially they told her to expect abuse like this from boys because they are BOYS.
Zaltu has two older brothers. They all muck around together, a lot, but never abusively. Ever. We don’t allow it. We don’t care what genitalia they have, we don’t allow it. Put that energy into taking over the world instead.
Our boys have never acted like THAT, ever. Because “boys” DON’T do that. Kids lacking in empathy and consequence act like that.
Australia has an excellent ad campaign currently on TV: If you think Domestic Violence is a big problem, stop it when it’s a little problem.
No. That is NOT How Boys Are
We are NOT going back. I would rather drive 15 minutes to the next playgroup than take any child back to a toxic, negligent environment. And, yes, I have raised the issue with the Playgroup Association.
I cannot express my disgust enough regarding the dismissive nature of the playgroup parents. While they did at least recognize the impact on Zaltu at the time, they did nothing to neither correct the behavior nor prevent it from happening again. And again. And again.
Imagine if this same situation happened to the Stanford Rapist 15 years ago, at his own playgroup. Now let’s imagine his parents telling him to properly apologize to the girl he intimidated. Perhaps his parents then told him no more trikes or took him away from the play area, rather than sending him back to play without opportunity for remorse or change.
Perhaps the parents could have prevented him from later raping and abusing his victim. Perhaps she would never have to write a letter to explain the impact of his actions.
I would not want to be family or friend to the Stanford Rapist. He is rot. But those closest to him are not helping either. They are not recognizing the need for proper punishment, remorse, and rehabilitation. If they are not helping, then they are feeding the rot.
They are rot too.
4 thoughts on “You Know How Boys Are”
Thank you so much for writing this. I think it’s vital to have an open discussion about these kinds of things. As a father of a 19-month-old boy, I have to tell you the idea of the future and the possibility that my child might behave like that haunts me at times. “What can I do to make sure he never behaves like that? What can I do to make sure that he is one the students stopping the event?” Those are questions that go through my mind and I’m glad that’s it’s being openly spoken about and not just some taboo topic.
The fact you are asking those questions for your son shows you already many steps towards him being a “hero on bikes”.
No sincere parent wants their child to grow up violent, however some parents really have no idea of the impact their words or (in)action has. Having this discussion in the open helps them too.
I don’t know why people think it’s ok for males to behave that way when they’re younger. I have a son and I have reprimanded him for behaving inappropriately toward ANYONE.
Unfortunately not everyone does this and my daugher (who is 5 years older than my son) was the target of several attacks by neighborhood boys. When I confronted those parents – the same stupid excuse would come out of their mouths “It’s just boys being boys” I shot back “If you did this to me, you would be in jail sir. Think about it. You need to teach your son to NOT attack girls just because they seem weaker. She has a green belt in Taikwondo and literally could have come back at him.” Of course they did nothing, no apologies or anything. I told my daughter that if she was attacked again that she had permission to use her skills – as I would rather her be uninjured than hurt and in a hospital. The attack was very brutal – two boys had tackled her and restrained her on the ground in-between two cars and were pummeling her – the children were all about 10 years old at the time. A neighbor had stopped the attack and taken her to our house.
My son hasn’t behaved this way towards girls in general but has misbehaved toward smaller children and I have punished him (he has had favorite toys taken, playtime taken, groundings – you name it) and made him apologize. I just wish that others would do the same. If our sons KNEW that the parents didn’t approve of the behavior – they might think twice about it. When my husband tries to excuse poor behavior with “It’s just boys being boys” I usually tell him that isn’t a good excuse and he needs to take responsibility for his actions. Plus – do you want him to end up in prison?
I am so sorry to read what happened to your daughter! That is awful and your advice to her most deserving. It is so frustrating when others continue to limit our kids potential, not just in their stereotypes but also in their social responsibility. Each time I hear of a parent like yourself, I regain some hope that change is happening.
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