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Politics

It will be cringeworthy, but you need to talk to your kids about sex

Esther J. Cepeda on

CHICAGO -- The #MeToo movement -- specifically the recent conversations about consent sparked by one woman's description of her terrible, horrible, no good, very bad date with writer and comedian Aziz Ansari -- has sure increased the amount of sex talk at my dinner table lately.

My poor son -- just 16 years old, quiet, shy and yet to meet his first girlfriend -- has been part of some extremely frank discussions about sexual respect and propriety.

But our first slightly uncomfortable chats pre-date the now-infamous Babe.net tell-all about Ansari, as well as many of the daily accusations against powerful men in this post-Harvey Weinstein era.

In fact, I can tell you exactly when these conversations became regular staples of mealtime talk at our house: It was on Oct. 22, 2017.

On that morning, I was reading an article about mothers who were "willing to do everything and anything" to defend their sons against accusations of sexual assault. I ran across a comment in the article from a self-described lifelong Democrat and feminist who believed her husband and two sons were "super respectful" of women: "We don't really need to teach our sons not to rape."

That hit me like a freight train.

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Sure, on its face it seems reasonable -- you raise sons and instill your values of respect and empathy for all. You teach them how to talk to the women in their lives, how to be a nice guy.

But is this enough?

My husband, son and I were out to breakfast at our local coffee shop when I turned to our boy and said to him, in all seriousness: "Don't rape women."

"Thanks mom, I know that," he responded dryly.

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