The Bearded Iris

A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

How Maroon 5 taught my daughter about rape.

One in three.

That’s the current global statistic about violence against women.

L-R: R. Vahey / D. Hunter / D. Richards - women star golfers at Kernwood Country Club, Salem

Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

 

One in three women around the world will be raped, beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. (2003 UNIFEM report “Not A Minute More: Ending Violence Against Women”)

Next time you are hanging out with two of your girlfriends, you can pretty safely assume that at least one of the three of you has been the victim of violence at some point in her life. You might not know it though, because the shame associated with it is so strong that the majority of us don’t ever discuss it or report it.

But this week In The Powder Room, we’re talking about it. We’re ALL talking about it…all day, every day.

I encourage you to join me and my colleagues as we explore various facets including how to raise our sons to not be rapists, surviving childhood sexual abuse, a man’s perspective, is a woman ever to blame?, what is a “Slut Walk”?, and many more tough issues. We all poured our hearts out this week and I hope you’ll get as much out of our work as we put into it.

I am truly so proud to be a part of this group of phenomenal writers and leaders.

Now join me, won’t you, as I share the story of how I accidentally taught my 9 year old daughter about the issue of rape, with unwelcome help from a couple of pop songs.

not lightly,

-Iris

25 Comments

  1. Thanks for writing this Iris.

  2. Incredibly important and poignant. Thank you for writing this.

  3. I think at for the types of questions and the age she is, you gave all the right answers. No need to get into nuances and grey areas. I’m a firm believer in parents being the “safety net” of solid rules that can be leaned on when confidence and peer pressure don’t match up well. I know that’s old fogey talk, but there you go. (I’ll leave this on the post as well!)

  4. Ok, lemme just say that I think we’re living (almost) parallel lives here Bearded One. My daughter and I had the EXACT same sex talk- “I know sex is a dirty word” and “green coloring” and “eww, you and Dad did THAT?!?!” last week. The only thing missing was the rape part, that’s where our conversation diverged from yalls’. This parenting thing is scary and I’m so thankful I’ve stumbled on places like this where I find other moms thinking “tha hell am I supposed to do now?” while keeping it real, yet funny. Sometimes, sadly or beautifully or brutally funny.
    Thank you.

  5. Kris the Colts fan

    April 3, 2012 at 11:31 am

    I am the one in three. And at age 43, I can say that this violence that happened years ago affects my life almost every fucking day. It’s a horrible thing to feel stuck in this cycle of leftover shame and self-loathing. I know one day Jesus will heal me and make me whole. But somedays I struggle to remember that I know He will do this for me.

    Please teach your sons that violence against anyone, especially sexual violence, is unacceptable.

    • I definitely will Kris; that’s a promise.

      Thank you so much for your hope, bravery, and trust. You’re in good company here and you’re not alone.

      Sending you the peace of Christ and unconditional love,
      Iris

    • I too am a 3. My best friends brother raped & beat me up when I was in the 8th grade. There are times when it comes back so clearly that I can’t breathe. I hope that I can teach my sons that a woman is to be cherished and never to use sex as a weapon. I pray that I can protect my daughter from ever having to experience or deal with the scars that rape inflicts on victims.

      God Bless you Iris for helping give a voice to helping prevent this violence.

      • Thank you Jessie. I hate that you had to experience such violence in your own childhood and I pray that our daughters will never have to experience such things. God bless you too and thank you for sharing your story and strength.

  6. Well done, Iris. Really. Raising kids is about getting them ready to be adults, and you did just that. Protection in the form of avoiding the hard stuff is no protection at all.

    • Thanks, Ninjie. I’m not good enough at thinking on my feet to avoid the hard stuff. Sometimes I wish I had a better internal 3 second delay, but I must have killed those brain cells in college. Maybe this will be one of those few times it actually works in my favor.

  7. Iris,

    Thank you for the reminder about the songs we listen to in the car. I have a horrible habit of playing the radio, not realizing that my kids are in fact listening to the words. I’ve heard that Maroon 5 song at least a hundred times and never have I actually listened to what the words are saying! I’m putting some serious thought into going back to the Baby Einstein classical music CDs during drive time with the kiddos.

    Thank you also for addressing issues that people are afraid to talk about. It takes a village.

    Hugs,
    Tracy

    • Damn those catchy pop songs! We actually listen to a lot of classic rock and oldies because that’s what I grew up listening to and the lyrics are generally much more love-based and less sex-based. GENERALLY. Of course there’s always the risk of some Donna Summer “Love to Love Ya Baby” with the audio-orgasm part interrupting our wholesome family dance along, but what are ya gonna do?

      I have friends who listen to the Christian rock station in the car for this very reason, but those songs creep me out and remind me of the movie “Saved.” It’s tough. The older my kids get, the more they want to listen to what their friends are listening to. Sigh.

      Thanks for being here honey and commenting on such a heavy post.

  8. http://projectunbreakable.tumblr.com/
    Iris, this is a really great website that I support because it encourages rape victims to take back the words that were once used against them. It also helps victims who choose not to send images by letting them know they’re not alone. When I was raped, my mom called me a whore and told me it was my own fault for being promiscuous. For the longest time, I was convinced it wasn’t rape because of what she said. Later, I came to understand it for what it really was, and I realized that I NEVER said yes. And yes, that is rape.

    • Hi Jessica. Thanks for sharing that link and your story. That website is SO powerful! And no, you’re definitely not alone.

      Ugh…parents. I choose to believe that most parents respond they way they do to information like “I was raped” out of their own feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and fear. I’m glad you were able to get beyond your mom’s invalidation and accusation. How awful that our loved ones’ words can be even more damaging than the physical violence so many of us endure in our lives. Sending you love and peace.

  9. One in three is embarrassing.

    Not a lot of men comment around here (I’m a speech-language pathologist who got hooked on The Beard after hearing what a bad-ass mofo I am) but I want you ladies to know that there are dads who are raising their boys to respect themselves and the girls in their lives, and raising daughters to know they deserve to be heard, respected, and—sometimes—feared. After months of encouraging my 5-year-old daughter to tell her younger brother to STOP [chasing/teasing/pummeling] like she is in charge and he has no other choice, I see her gaining the confidence to assert her right to safety. I love your defense of Ps in Vs as a potentially beautiful thing because our boys and girls need to know that, too. Your children are going to love reading your essays when they are older!

    • YAY! Fresh ‘Bad Mofo’ meat in the hizzy!!!

      Hi Greg! You’re right…not a lot of men comment around here. (Booooo!) I probably need to write about more manly stuff like bacon and boobs. Wait…I already do that! Thank God for my friends Bernie and Mike and my Stepdad who do comment pretty regularly. Perhaps it takes an extra special guy to hang out with the funny chicks. And in that case, you totally qualify. You are raising some awesome kids there with your parenting style.

      P to the S, you totally cracked me up with your “Ps in the Vs” reference. I always think of Super Bad when I hear that! (One of my favorites!) And I love how you said you got “hooked on The Beard”!!! Make my day, why don’tcha.

      Thank you Greg for taking the time to comment (and so beautifully) on such a tough subject. You are welcome here any time! -Iris

  10. I agree with you 100%. And I don’t mean to minimize your cause one bit because I believe in respect for all people. However, there is the less talked about side of this issue and it’s the abuse of men. I was subjected to years of verbal abuse from my S2BXW. But I wasn’t ashamed, I just did my best to work through the problem…unsuccesfully. Some people are just plain mean.

    • It’s okay – I don’t think your comment minimizes the cause. You’re right, the abuse of men is less talked about, and no less important. I believe the current statistic for sexual abuse is 1 in 6. I try to talk to my boys frequently about not keeping secrets and feeling safe enough to talk to me and their dad if someone ever makes them feel uncomfortable or threatened.

      I’m so glad to hear you are moving on from your relationship with someone who was abusive with you. I wish you much happiness and peace in your future!

  11. Going over now. It’s never easy writing about it.
    x

  12. Three different men violated me between the ages of 7-14. I just recently found out that i was conceived as a result of incest. At 38 yrs I’m still trying to figure out who I am. Its the stuff that messes with your head for your entire life. I’m happy to proclaim myself as a helicopter parent if there ever was one because so help the sorry man (or woman) that dares to hurt my girls. My therapist thinks I ought to write a book about my experiences but I’m not gifted in that area. I do hope some day I can find peace within myself about my past. Until then I will continue to protect my girls the best way I know how. Thanks for posting.

    • Hope and peace…in the same sentence. I like that. I’m so glad you (and your mom) survived it/continue to survive it. Thank you for sharing your story!

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