Good Enough Mother:
On Rape, Racism And Teachable Moments
Every so often something happens that makes you, as a parent think.. I’m doing something right.
I had one of those moments yesterday and I want to share, even thought it’s a bit heavier than our usual fare.
As you know, it’s been an interesting news cycle lately. There’s been all sorts of stuff internationally – but of course, it’s a couple of big stories, Ferguson and Cosby, that have dominated the news cycle stateside.
Cosby: As in Bill. The much beloved and now embattled entertainer is facing multiple accusations that he drugged and raped women for years.
The other day, on my Facebook page, I was talking about the aforementioned cases with a friend of mine and about his opinions on the Cosby case.
My friend (well, now, ex; he unfriended and blocked me after the story I am about to tell) Cody Williams is no stranger to us here; we gave him space to talk about battling is most formidable opponent, ALS. You can read his story here.
He and I have had our differences lately, especially with regard to some of the things he has said about women, Bill Cosby and rape in general (he has gone on record multiple times saying that rape is first and foremost about sex, which flies in the face of what we know rape to be). At one point, he said he would want the women in his life to come to him if they had been raped.
I asked him why he thought, based on his writings, they would feel comfortable talking to him about it. This was his response:
“Damn, what did I say. Imma overly sensitive fag to most guys I know.”
That prompted one final message from Cody to me:
“Rene Syler For someone who NEVER uses that word it rolled off your fingertips way too easy for me you self absorbed psychotic bitch.”
“Self-absorbed psychotic bitch.” The words hung in space for a minute as I read them on my phone. Really? I mean . . . REALLY?
Later in the day, I drove my 16-year-old son to the DMV to get is learner’s permit. It was a long drive so it gave us time to talk.
I told him about the exchange and I could see him bristle a bit upon learning that a man had called his mother a bitch. But it was the perfect entree for us to have a discussion about some tough things.
We talked about what it’s like to be black in this country. I went over behavior that is not just accepted, but expected by his father and I.
Then we talked about rape.
“Cole, you do know that no means no, right?” I said. I was treading lightly, not because I was shying away from the subject matter but because I didn’t want him to get embarrassed or to clam up.
“Yes, mom.. I’m not an idiot.”
I went on.
“So, no matter where you are in the situation, if you are with a girl and she says stop, you stop. Are we clear?”
“Yes. Of course.”
We continued driving in silence for a bit, when my 16-year-old man-child turned to me and said, “Mom? How can your friend say he’s sensitive but still use the term fag? Doesn’t he know that he’s NOT being sensitive?”
In that moment, I got all warm and fuzzy inside. Look, I am Good Enough Mother; I have screwed up plenty while raising these kids and myself, for that matter.
But every so often a gem like this comes out of their mouths.
“Yes son.. and I hope someday he realizes that.”
Yesterday was a good day. And Buff and I are raising a good man.
What about you? Have you had any “teachable moments” with your kids? What were they? How did they make you feel?