Donald Trump, pussy grabbing and teaching my kids about consent

When I heard the audio of Donald Trump saying he grabbed women by the pussy, it triggered a memory that I buried deep down inside, which is my usual, albeit not very healthy, coping mechanism following traumatic events.

I was twenty years old and on a run, with my CD-man awkwardly strapped to my arm, headphones on. As I ran past a man who was leaning against a building, he suddenly reached out and grabbed me by the pussy. There is literally no other way to describe it.

I screamed and jumped away from him, while making sure to continue moving, now running backwards to keep him in view. I’ll never forget the expression on his face: he looked confused. Could a man who grabbed a woman by the genitals really be surprised that she had a negative reaction? In some ways, his facial expression disturbed me more than the violation itself.

I feel incredibly lucky that this is the worst physical violation I’ve ever experienced. I’ve had to push several men away who tried to kiss and grope me uninvited; I’ve had men grind on me at dance clubs uninvited; I’ve been verbally harassed by men countless times; I’ve had male friends touch me in ways that are inappropriate. But the one time I found myself in a sexual situation where I was no longer feeling comfortable, the man I was with heard my “no” loud and clear and stopped all physical contact immediately. Again, I feel lucky.

Over the past few days, I’ve spoken to many of the women in my life and read the words of many women I do not know. It is not an exaggeration to say that 100% of women have experienced some form of physical or verbal harassment by a man. I don’t consider myself a victim of sexual assault (which is pretty messed up actually) and my heart has been aching listening to women who are survivors of sexual abuse and were triggered by Donald Trump. He is toxic masculinity personified and I feel all sorts of way when I think about what he represents in this country.

But I don’t want to talk about Donald Trump. I want to talk about consent and children and how we as parents can do better so our sons and daughters don’t have to live in a culture that downplays and normalizes rape and sexual assault.

The concept of consent is already big in my household, and my children are only 4 and 2. We say things like “when someone says ‘no’ or ‘stop’ or ‘I don’t like that’, you stop immediately.” My son can repeat this mantra and we try to make sure he gets consent from his friends before engaging in games, particularly games that are aggressive in nature.

My husband and I also make sure to model consent with our kids. So if we’re playing a tickling game, for instance, and they say “stop” while laughing, we immediately stop and explain that we heard the word “stop” or “no”. If they ask us to keep playing (which they usually do), we ask them for explicit permission to tickle them again and explain that this is called consent.

But consent isn’t just about verbal agreement; there is so much that can be gleaned from body language. When I notice another child looking upset, but not speaking up I’ll call my kid over and say something like, “do you think that child is having fun playing this game?” or “does that child seem scared when you are playing chase?” or “how do you think that child feels right now?”  Teaching empathy and learning how to read facial expressions is just as important as learning to respect the words “stop” and “no”.

As with all parenting, teaching our kids about consent is a work in progress, particularly with the sibling dynamics currently at play in our household. But we will keep at it, because I want both of my children to deeply understand the importance of verbal and nonverbal consent.

For more strategies on how to teach kids about consent, check out the article, This is How You Teach Kids About Consent.

How do you talk about consent with your children?

P.S. Pussy Grabs Back, November 8th

 

 

 

 

 

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9 thoughts on “Donald Trump, pussy grabbing and teaching my kids about consent

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Yep, I was about 3 weeks shy of my 9th birthday, and a complete stranger grabbed my pussy as I waited for my friend by the bikes at the miniature golf course. Thank you for writing this. And thank you for sharing your experiences.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mike says:

    I don’t mean to deflect from Trumps comments, they were everything you said them to be. But I was wondering what is your opinion regarding the multiple allegations against Bill Clinton and Hillary’s subsequent treatment of the women – ? Why do you think that those who would normally never question a woman’s account will suddenly dismiss multiple women as part of a “conspiracy” and even worse “looking for attention” ?

    Sexual assault should always be above partisan politics, and from what I’m seeing I fear that it is rather confined as to when it is politically convenient.

    Interested in your response. Thanks!

    Like

    1. strivingshannon says:

      Hi Mike, thanks for writing. Bill Clinton’s affairs were scrutinized and investigated by the department of justice. I believe any individual who is running for office or who holds public office should expect scrutiny and be held accountable. Sexual assault is sexual assault, no matter your political affinity, with this I agree. But Trump is running for president, so again, he should expect to have his past (and current) behavior examined.

      Like

      1. Mike says:

        Thanks for responding, Shannon. With respect, you’re conflating Bill’s adulterous past with criminal sexual assault allegations–more famously the cases of Juanita broaddrick, Puala Jones and Kathleen Willey, and less famous cases such as Eileen Wellstone who said Clinton assaulted her after they met at a pub in oxford. Read more here: http://www.albertpeia.com/oxfordassault.htm
        The fact that he was investigated and cleared by the Justice Department is as much proof of his innocence as the other 97% of rapist who never spend a day in jail.- even less so considering his power and status. Also consider, much of the allegations were never scrutinized and investigated by the Justice Departments investigation that focused mostly on Bill’s affair with Monica,

        How does this relate to Hillary and this election? A) as a couple Bill will re-enter the White House along with Hilllary into a position of influence. B) The women claim that Hillary harassed them and intimated them to silence – some of which is well documented – lest they interfere with the Clinton’s rise to power. C) Hillary has said that victims have the right to “be belived and heard” , it is quite shameful that she makes numerous exceptions for her husband if this is indeed her position.

        There is a lot to be familiar with here, but that isn’t what I’m asking. To my original question, on the social aspect, do you think we’re sending survivors a dangerous message; that you deserve to be heard so long as we don’t find your case politically threatening – ?

        P.S. I supported Bernie Sanders in the primary and will absolutely not vote Trump. I find the silence from progressives genuinely disheartening. There is no ulterior motive.

        Like

      2. strivingshannon says:

        Sorry, for some reason your comment went into a spam folder, so I just saw this today. You’re right, I’m unfamiliar with the cases you site and honestly do not have the time today to do a deep dive. I’ll try and take a look later this weekend. But I wanted to respond since it had been several days since you wrote.

        I definitely agree that politics/power/class have far more weight than the truth when it comes to our criminal justice system and this is a disgrace. And I agree that sexual assault/rape cases have pathetically low conviction rates (and so many go unreported to begin with). As for your question, I think it’s clear that survivors are rarely heard in high-profile cases without being dragged in some way. I do not like the message that powerful people are given a pass because they have the social and financial capital to make it happen. We have a lot of work to do.

        Like

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