Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Being Paige's Mom

This is my first blog, but. A lifetime in the making. I started out wanting to name this blog "Being Paige's Mom," but decided that I am, and will be, more than that. But for today, I'm writing as Paige's Mom.

Most strangers know my daughter, Paige, as the "other girl" in the Daisy Coleman rape case which is getting national attention.  Paige was sexually assaulted at a party with her best friend,  Daisy, January 8, 2012.  The case has been highly publicized due to the politics involved in the case. Few people know the story of what happened that night. The only people who really know for sure are the girls.

I am not writing this to capitalize on the events of that night. I want to write, for now, about being the mother of a young woman who was sexually assaulted.

I was thinking today as I spoke with a friend of mine, about the reality of the world in which we live. A world where two young women, girls at the time, could leave a house with boys they considered friends, to be assaulted in the basement of the home of one of the boys then dumped in the cold like trash. The world which subsequently turned on the girls, blaming them for doing nothing but being teenage girls.  Now their every action is subject to critique and judgment.  The way they dress, talk, and act is under public scrutiny as people try to place blame on the girls for what happened.

Having once, long ago, been a teenage girl myself, I remember having put myself in the same position the girls were in that night: drunk, at a party, looking for the attention of boys. The difference between myself and the girls is this: I was with teenage boys who had respect for me and themselves. If the difference between the situations lies in the character of the boys present,  how can we place blame on the girls?

Here's how. If this horrible thing happened to these intelligent,  independent, beautiful young women,  it could happen to anyone. To anyone's daughter or sister. That is a scary prospect for anyone to understand.  Especially me. Paige knew the dangers of drinking, strangers, dark alleys and unfamiliar territory.  She was not prepared to deal with an attack by a friend.  By young, small-town, all-american boys. This is why it is so easy to blame the girls. We don't want to address the fact that the "bad guy" isn't always a stranger. He isn't always ugly or mean. Sometimes he looks just like your brother's trusted friends. How can we prepare to defend our children against that? How do you warn your child about the dangers that you, yourself, do not wish to confront? Until we accept that rape is caused by rapists and not clothing, and accept the fact that rapists live in our own neighborhoods or homes, we solve nothing.

I have racked my brain today, thinking of why my boys would be different than those boys who raped the girls. Honestly,  I can't come up with any tangible answer. I hope I have raised my sons to have respect for women. Hopefully their senses of right and wrong are well developed.  Hopefully they don't feel entitled to treat people as non-human. I think that is where intervention should lie. Instead of blaming the victim and teaching our daughters to grow up and be afraid, we need to teach our sons as well.