In this week’s episode, I was jazzed to sit down with my husband for a rare face-to-face podcast recording. We dove into the definitions of rape vs. sexual assault and how to distinguish the two. We also talked about the confusion that sometimes surrounds those definitions and sought to clarify them.
Zach and I compared our upbringings and the conversations, or lack thereof, about physical consent. Toxic masculinity, the role of a woman in a sexual encounter, messaging we receive, guys we dove into alllll that jazz. Ultimately, we decided that just because something is a societal norm doesn’t mean that it’s acceptable and we need to do our part to be a force of change.
We chatted about Aziz Ansari and how his example brings to light the need to go beyond verbal consent. We also need to look at and respect non-verbal cues. It’s important to be looking for signs that someone may not be comfortable with a situation. Even if it doesn’t feel sexy, it’s best to keep communication open and check in to make sure that everyone involved feels comfortable and safe.
How does this apply to tiny humans? We can lay the groundwork for this very early, much earlier than one might imagine. Teaching kids to be aware of nonverbal communication begins in toddlerhood. Teaching mindfulness around body language by pointing it out in books or in public. For example, you might point to a picture in a book and ask your kiddo, “What does their face look like? What do you think they’re feeling?” Teaching this mindfulness early will set the foundation for it to become a habit as they get older.
Zach and I talked about how building empathy and emotional intelligence with our tiny humans can prevent future instances of sexual assault and rape. If our kiddos feel safe in their big emotions and have healthy coping strategies, they will have the skills to maintain healthy sexual and physical boundaries. We also need to be talking to our kiddos about fight, flight, or freeze and the ways that the brain reacts when exposed to potential or actual harm.
Zach shared some insight about toxic masculinity and the ways that small moments can add up to a larger culture of harm. We talked together about how difficult it can be to speak up at the moment but how those small moments can really be a catalyst for change. Teaching our kiddos to stand up for their values and how to navigate the potential pushback is another important way to fight against rape culture.
We wrapped up our chat by discussing our hopes for our future tiny humans. The conversations we want to have, the values we want to share, and that ultimately we want our kiddos to be able to identify their own values to guide them as they make decisions.
We are also dropping a FREEBIE on consent in preparation for the holidays. Snag yours at seedandsew.org/resources .