To my darling boys,
I hope when you read this, you groan and roll your eyes. I hope to hear you say, “I know, Mom” because your father and I have spent your whole lives consistently delivering this message to you both verbally and in our actions.
Your body belongs to you.
No one can touch it, touch you, without your consent.
Ah, consent. A word that has been used quite frequently in our household. Consent means “to permit, approve, or agree; comply or yield” by the dictionary definition, but in our house, it means to “to permit wholeheartedly and lucidly, without manipulation or coercion.”
We have taught you about consent, my loves, because it is a concept that our generation seems to have a problem understanding, specifically those with privilege. Yes, another word you have learned very well.
You are privileged because you were born white males in a society that deems white males to have the highest worth. You have more social power than any other group, and we hope we have taught you the responsibility that comes with it. Remember, everyone is born with a cup of beans. White, heterosexual men were given the most beans. White women, people of colour, LGBT+ people, and disabled people have fewer beans, to different extents.
Because you have the most beans, you have a choice. You can decide that your beans aren’t enough, that because you have the most beans, you deserve even more. You can decide that your wealth means that you have power over those with fewer beans and can take from them. After all, they aren’t worth as much (bean-wise) as you are. You can take beans from other people. And some people will applaud this, thinking that it is natural and masculine.
Or you can decide that your beans are worth sharing. You lend your support to people with fewer beans. You decide to help change the world so that your children will have fewer beans, but live in a country that has bean equity. You can use your bean wealth to advocate for people who are bean poor. This is what your father and I hope you’ll choose.
Consent and privilege can intersect in an awful way, my sweet boys. If someone with privilege choses to use their social power to override someone’s consent, we have a tragedy like the one last year that prompted this letter. Rape is a despicable thing and occurs when someone with privilege believes they are entitled to consent. But let me tell you something:
No one is entitled to consent.
No one is entitled to your body and you are not entitled to anyone else’s. Even if you’re dating. Even if you’re married. Even if someone is drunk or high or incapacitated in any way. Even if you have more social “worth” than they do. Even if you’ve consented once or twice or a thousand times. Even if her clothes aren’t “modest.”
My boys, I’m telling you this to protect you, and to protect others. I don’t want to see you victimized. I also don’t want to see you the perpetrator of this heinous crime. I will always love you and because of that, I will always take this seriously. Because your body belongs to you, you are responsible for the actions your body takes.
So, please, my little loves, I beg you to take this lesson to heart. I want you to be safe and to be someone that others can be safe around.