What Do We Tell Them Then?

by Lori Dwyer on October 21, 2013 · 10 comments

I can’t even write too much about this. It makes my teeth grit in anger and brings up all kinds of justifiably furious states.

If you missed, it starts with Mia. And one would hope it ends with News With Nipples, who summed it up more eloquently than I’d ever will be able to.

But I’ll say this… One day, I will tell both my daughter, and my son, not to drink to excess. Because it makes you look like a tool.

I’ll tell them both to be careful with what they do, how they behave. I’ll teach them the best ways to minimise the risk to them, whatever situation they may be in.

And I’ll tell them the truth– that sometimes, awful people do horrible things. And that’s never okay.

But I’ll be damned if I tell my daughter that something she does effectively makes her prey to those people. As Kerri said on Twitter, there’s a very fine line between ‘Binge drinking makes you too vulnerable’ and ‘That short skirt makes you a target’.

Because if we keep telling our daughters these things, if we keep perpetuating the myth that it was something they did that caused a sexual assault…

If we tell them to be ‘good girls’, and they are, and the worst still happens…

What the f*ck do we tell them, then?


Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Warwick October 23, 2013 at 10:09 pm

As I said in (what I felt was) a good conversation with NWN on Twitter, I’m a father of a 9yo girl, and three boys (16y, 12y, 17mo). I intend to teach my daughter what she can do to reduce the risks of being the victim of an opportunist. I have already started the conversation with my 16you, and intend to have it with my other two boys: One of the things is boils down to is “Don’t be an asshole”.

Although, for the 17mo, it’s “Don’t eat crayons”, but I digress.

I see it as “the before” and “the after”. In the before, we teach our children what they can do to not be the bad people, and what they can do to avoid the bad people.

In the after, God forbid, the victim needs one thing. Compassion. Nothing else. It’s not their fault that the criminal did what they did. What’s done is done. Loading them up with blame doesn’t fix anything and only increases the burden they carry.

For the victim, compassion. Just compassion.


Drea B October 22, 2013 at 6:23 pm

For those who don’t understand why telling girls how to avoid being attacked is an issue, how many boys get told the same thing? How many sons are told what not to do to avoid violence, because young men are victims of violence.

Making it solely womens’ responsibility to avoid being attacked is wrong. I read a comment by someone yesterday where the girls in their high school year all had to do a term of self defence. The boys had nothing. No self defence and no words about consent, about avoiding binge drinking, avoiding fights etc. The girls have to defend themselves, the boys dont’ get todl what their responsibilities are.

I also read this yesterday – When Israel was experiencing an epidemic of violent rapes and someone at a cabinet meeting suggested women be put under curfew until the rapists were caught, Golda Meir said back, “Men are committing the rapes. Let them be put under curfew.”

Women have to stay in, dress ‘properly’, don’t drink, don’t flirt…the list goes on. Men don’t get those instructions, not even to avoid violence amongst themselves. Point me to where a guy who got king hit was blamed for it, was told what he was wearing made him vunerable. Where he was told that by drinking to excess he helped make it happen and if he’d just been a ‘good boy’ he’d have been fine.


Kristina October 22, 2013 at 4:06 pm

I confess, I do not understand this… I don’t see how teaching people that they can take steps to protect themselves means that they are at fault if someone does something awful to them, even if they didn’t take those steps. If I don’t lock my vehicle and it gets stolen, that’s not my fault — it’s the fault of the person who took the car. If I walk through a lousy part of town and someone kills me, that’s not my fault — it’s the fault of the murderer. If I have too much to drink and someone rapes me, that’s not my fault — it’s the fault of the assaulter.

This is from the perspective of having been there. I was sexually assaulted by someone I knew, and there are things I could have done differently that would have prevented the assault. Things I wish I HAD done differently. Even so, I in no way think that it’s my fault. I never did. It was his fault. And I don’t believe that I’m extraordinary in my ability to know the difference….

But if I don’t tell people about what you can do to help keep yourself safe, and they wind up assaulted under similar circumstances? Then I’m pretty sure THAT might be my fault.


Whoa, Molly! October 22, 2013 at 11:18 am

“One day, I will tell both my daughter, and my son, not to drink to excess. Because it makes you look like a tool.”


And instead of teaching girls not to ‘get themselves into bad situations’, we should teach EVERYONE about what consent looks like, about how to be a responsible drinker, friend, man, woman. How to take care of people and look out for friends. How to make good decisions. About how to be a decent human being.

It’s just so hard to not be angry when people have a platform and they don’t use it to promote actually helpful messages instead of the same old tired messages.
Whoa, Molly! recently posted…Story FailingMy Profile


Karyn October 22, 2013 at 9:15 am

I have 2 boys. No girls. Man I wanted a girl. But … I can still pass onto my boys what I would have passed to my girls. That sharing a bed with a mate, even fully dressed with no intention of doing more than sleeping cause you’re too drunk to drive, is not an invitation for sex. Thankfully the mate listened to me say “no”. But it so very well could have gone a bad way.

So we tell our kids our learnings. Our mistakes. And hope to hell they listen.


Ailene October 22, 2013 at 4:19 am

I don’t see how it’s perceived as blaming the victim to warn girls that drinking to excess can cause them to be more vulnerable. It also causes boys to be more vulnerable. Bad things happen to good people all the time and I think it’s wise to warn kids/teenagers/college students that there are people in the world who will take advantage of them. I have two teenage girls and live in a small town. I want them to be aware they will meet people in the world who will take advantage of them. You only increase the chance of a better outcome by not being so impaired that you can’t help yourself. Men who are impaired get taken advantage of also. I don’t think this is a case of blaming victims or blaming women. Anyone can be the victim of a crime but I want my girls to be aware of how drinking to much can put them at a further disadvantage in what might be an already vulnerable situation. P.S. Lori, I love your blog and your raw truth. You’ve been through so much but your rocking it out. You’re a great mom! Love from the states. Ailene


Areta Y. October 22, 2013 at 10:02 am

The problem is that females are told this all too often in the media, yet there is a complete lack of stories telling boys that it’s NOT okay to force themselves on anyone.

Why is the focus being put on the way that females behave?

Also, I’m all for a discussion around behaviours that put both sexes at risk of being taken advantage of. However, these stories are pretty much always aimed at females.


Marianne October 22, 2013 at 12:43 am

I told her not to talk to strangers when she was little…to NEVER follow someone she didn’t know (“Hey little girl, want to see my puppy?”)
When she started driving, I bought her police-grade mace to have in the car with her.
I told her to always have someone walk her out to her car in the parking lot after dark
I’ve told her not to get snot-slinging drunk…and I brought the point back up a few months ago when the circus media de jour was the high school girl that the two football player boys took advantage of while she was passed-out drunk. I have repeatedly pointed out how the boys involved deserved the prison sentences they received. BUT THE GIRL IS STILL RAPED.
I’m just saying…you don’t deserve to get ‘jacked and raped and/or murdered if you decide to cross the darkened parking lot by yourself after work…but you cut the chances of it happening down if you have security or your manager walk you to your car.
Marianne recently posted…GiftsMy Profile


Helen King October 21, 2013 at 11:56 pm

But I don’t Mia said that at all. Clearly, the rapist is fully to blame -but I do not want to see my daughter, who has the right to drink if she wants to (although she could get really sick, etc), but the fact is that, for those who are raped by people they know, or in heading home, they are less likely to fend off an attack (and that might be by a friend, someone unknown, a relative, whatever) if they are impaired at all – particularly if they are not as physically strong. Great to be right -cold comfort when recovering from rape (and pressing charges can also be a degrading experience -again, very wrong, but lawyers and the guilty will use whatever they can to weasel out of what they have done). I will definitely be teaching both my son AND my daughter not to drink or use to the point that their judgment and physical abilities are impaired, to respect others (particularly my son – he’s only 8, but knowing some teenage boys as well as some men who don’t show a lot of respect to women, peer pressure is a real issue). The fact is, not everyone is brought up with these values. Yes -both need to be tackled – but you’d be stupid to put yourself in danger too. I didn’t think the article you linked to was very convincing – it argued against points Mia didn’t make. Anyway …


Sarah October 21, 2013 at 10:36 pm

I got lost in the vortex of the twitter discussions but viewing this as a mum and someone who has worked with victims of crime for a decade the role of looking to attach blame, to seek ways where a person can work out where it all went wrong brings the cycle time and time again back to the victim. If we don’t send our conversations back in the other direction where we question the perpetrator, their motivation, their punishment then how do we stop the cycle? Ill teach my girl how to respect herself, that’s a given, but this (^^^) is a total other issue. She, just like her mum, is not responsible for the behaviour of others. In other news News without nipples is a fab blog (and yes Ill be in touch to talk to you in real life soon Lori…x)
Sarah recently posted…he ain’t heavy.My Profile


Previous post:

Next post: