I treated myself to the bus from the train today instead of walking the 20 minutes. I sat down a few seats away from a couple of teenage boys who were chatting, trying to seem tougher than they really felt. They were talking about girls but in a pretty low key way. My ears perked up when I heard "rape."
Nope, it didn't go the way I thought I was going.
"If you get enlarged then it can't be rape. So you can't really get raped."
Yes, it went wrong in an entirely different way. I had an impulse to speak up immediately but swallowed it while I thought about the sort of things that would need to be said. It turns out I didn't have the chutzpah to discuss the subtleties of direct stimulation, blood flow, and their relationship, or lack thereof, to desire with two teenagers I'd never met before. There are arguments to be made that I was right not to do so and arguments that I was wrong.
I grew up in the 1970s. It was a time of encouraging children to use the technical terms for body parts and to be comfortable with sex and reproduction. From my perspective the '70s were all about knowledge being power. My mother was fully on board with this movement. She was always happy to provide a book, explain a situation, and encourage feedback. She still is! Sometimes I question her methods but then look at me, I'm comfortable talking about sex and other bodily functions with people, just not with my mother.
As I got off the bus I wondered where those kids were getting their basic info and who they might be able to talk to. I wish I'd at least had some sort of calling card with the contact details for Scarleteen* on it so I could have told them that their take on rape of men wasn't strictly accurate but it was understandable and there was a place to get answers.
Where did you get your questions answered as a kid? Where do you get them answered as an adult? Do you wish things were different?
*Scarleteen is in great need of donations in order to keep providing quality sexual health assistance to young people. If you have a few dollars to send their way, please do.
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