Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What does Core Curriculum teach about Getting Laid?

Question: Does Core Curriculum have a position about getting laid? Just asking. One of this morning's Facebook links and my reflections is what prompted the question. Here's the link.

Son, It’s Okay If You Don’t Get Laid Tonight
Hey kid. You’re at an age where I’m pretty sure you’re about to have sex soon, or actually, you might even already be having it and you’re just *that* good at keeping it from me. I don’t really fret over that because I trust you. And because I trust myself and the job I’ve done as your parent all these years. Talking or joking about sex was never an uncomfortable, taboo topic in our house, and we’ve talked about protection, about your responsibility for it, about teen pregnancy, about abortion, about sexually transmitted diseases, about the role masturbation plays in keeping one from entering less-than-ideal relationships. We’ve talked about the girls you like, and I’ve always made sure to ask what it is about her personality that does it for you (is she smart? is she hilarious? confident? do you read the same kind of books or does she have different tastes? is she a gamer, too?) and her looks have never been the thing we focus on. 
We’ve also talked about rape and about rape culture. I’ve tried to show you how this pervasive attitude exists toward women as objects, or at best, supporting characters in a man’s adventure. And that even though that isn’t your fault and you didn’t make the world that way, allowing yourself to be a passive beneficiary of that dynamic is unacceptable. That you must be one of the many people to challenge that, to keep pushing on the outer membrane of this limited paradigm we live in until you’ve either moved us all somewhere else or you’ve broken through it. You must trust that if you are doing so in your little area, someone else is doing it in theirs, and another in theirs, and so on. Other mothers and fathers are teaching this to their sons and daughters somewhere. 
And yet, the reality is that even with everything I’ve taught you, you are still capable of committing rape. Not because you’re some kind of testosterone-driven monster on the inside, but because you’re at the center of swirling variables and messages.
You are friends with boys whose parents may or may not have taught their sons to respect women in the way you’ve learned. If those guys don’t respect women, I want you to be their thought leader. Show them a better way. Don’t laugh when they make a disrespectful joke or cat call. Lead by example. If you witness one of them objectifying a woman, make it clear (especially in front of that woman, if you can) that you think it’s utter bullshit. Females need to see that, even if it’s only a little at a time, guys are evolving. 
You receive messaging that suggests the guys you want to emulate are the ones who are getting laid. But the pressure to be “that guy” is what leads to so many bad judgment calls, judgment calls that end up with a girl raped or otherwise violated. Daisy Coleman in Missouri was lured, along with her friend, to a school mate’s basement, loaded up with alcohol, raped, and then dumped unconscious to freeze to death in her yard. So was her friend. They were 13 and 14. That’s just slightly older than your little sister. 
I’d like to get inside the minds of those boys in that basement. They were hanging out together, probably for the umpteenth time, bored, and thought, “there are no girls here, this sucks.” It DOES suck when there are no girls around and it’s a total sausage fest. NOT because then there’s no one to use for release of physiological needs, but because women can be awesome and funny and smart and bring something to a party or situation that is missing if it’s only dudes. Women are valuable people for reasons other than owning boobs and a vagina. But that wasn’t what those boys had in mind. They actually called this girl and planned to get her so messed up that they could use her as entertainment. And not one of the boys there had the courage to push back against whatever fucked up thing in their head made them interested in this (maybe because they wanted to see if real sex measured up to what they see in porn?). They didn’t have the courage to push back against that in themselves, and they certainly didn’t have the courage to make their friends stop. 
I’d like to think that would never, could never be you. I think better of you and better of your friends to think it would. But the reality is that all human beings are susceptible to momentary lapses of character and judgment, and in groups, it’s even more likely. More than anything, I want you to internalize this truth: it’s okay if you don’t get laid tonight. Or tomorrow night. It’s okay if you DO get laid and it’s with a girl who truly enjoyed herself, too, but then it’s okay if she doesn’t sleep with you again. It’s okay if it’s another year or more before you have sex with anyone again. It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay. What’s way more important than getting laid is pretty much everything. But specifically, you have core values that will always trump getting laid. Like protecting people. Like looking at every situation and determining what your best role is in it. Like rooting for the underdog and not siding with the people who have power in a given scenario. 
Those parts of you are why I think you will always be better than any pressure you experience to “get laid.” 
But because not enough kids get a roadmap, I’m going to give you one. 
Here’s how you can rule out sleeping with someone:
1. She’s hammered.
2. She seems unsure if she wants to (you should never have to talk anyone into it).
3. She’s passed out.
4. It seems like there’s any other reason she might regret it in the morning. (Even if it’s not rape, do you really want to be someone’s morning-after regret, when instead they can remember you as a total gentleman?) 
Here’s how you can be sure it’s okay to proceed with sex:
1. She is in control of her faculties.
2. She is enthusiastically willing.
3. Check in with her! “Do you want to be doing this?” is a great thing to ask when things are going to another sexual level. The worst thing that will happen is she’ll rethink it and say, no, she’s actually not ready. It’s important at that point to pivot to doing something else together, and not make her feel guilty for changing her mind. While that may feel like a bummer to you in the moment, what you’ve just achieved there is fucking badass. You’ve just put someone else’s feelings ahead of your physiological needs. You’ve just treated somebody the way you hope another guy would treat your sister. 
All of this is to say, I actually think you’ve got this. You’re going to do great things in the world as you fully inhabit your manhood, and I think the integrity you’re made of is going to come through in all kinds of situations. I really wish you a great, fulfilling sex life where you each mutually benefit and you each come away from it feeling fortified and better for it; not damaged, confused, or disappointed in yourself. 
So, if I really think you’ve got this and I really trust you, why did I write this? I wrote all of this out for you because that’s my job. To give you a chance in hell at navigating your way through this crazy, messed up world we live in and maybe even have a little fun while you’re doing it. Sexual power is one of the kinds of power. With great power, comes great responsibility. On the flip side, with no power comes no responsibility (h/t Kickass). And that’s why it’s totally okay if you don’t get laid tonight. 
Love and hugs and rainbows and all that,


This tumblr post is not what I expected. It's excellent advice, presumably from a Mom to her son, but worthwhile reading for any young person old enough to read the language. As I read this -- and this is slightly off-topic, but perhaps not -- something I came across yesterday kept drumming in the background of my mind.

An educational concept called the Core Curriculum is being rolled out across the country and is getting almost as much resistance and opposition as the Affordable Care Act. Opponents are objecting to a variety of aspects of the program and picking apart the materials being disseminated. They are still a mathematical minority, but opponents are getting organized, very much like the Tea Party people. Something tells me that many of the same people are also Tea Party people and I'm forming a sneaky suspicion that the anti-vax crowd shares many of the same fears -- mostly about the threats of Big Government and "other people" trying to tell us what's best for us and for our kids.

To that end there is now a Facebook group called "inappropriate Core Curriculum" something or other which has over two and a half thousand members. A web search returns hundreds of similar results, many organized by state, which appears to be a cottage industry of opposition. A quick survey of headlines, taglines and bullet points reveals the same anti-Obama, anti-health care reform, anti-Liberal, anti-Welfare, anti-public schools themes that typify the extreme, even reactionary Conservative thinking that has spread for the last ten years like ants and flies at a picnic.

What specifically reminded me of these groups as I read this "letter" were two items I saw at a couple of the sites I checked. The first, headlined something like "Core Curriculum teaches my child to use profanity," was prompted by a reading list of books that could be found in any good library, which of course included a few that have bad language and reference to unsavory social themes. And the parents, many of whom cited children as old as middle school age, were railing in the comments about how their kids didn't need to be "exposed to " this kind of trash. As I read I had flashbacks of movie scenes of book-burning, or hyper-ventilating, flag-waving extremists in Tea Party videos. These people were not engaged in any kind of reasonable discussion (though there was, I must say, a sprinkling of reasoned arguments trying to balance what was plainly an over-the-top blind hatred of anything associated with Core Curriculum.)

The other was a copy of a reading comprehension exercise in the form of a short paragraph followed by several questions about the content intended to prompt the readers to think about the unsaid, unspoken implications of the paragraph. This was clearly aimed at teaching more than testing, forming a springboard for discussion for any student who's responses indicated he or she didn't catch the drift of what was being read. The paragraph depicted a scene in a home in which a woman, obviously a mother, was cleaning up a bedroom and came across a hair barrette with a few strands of hair of the wrong color, indicating her husband was having an affair. I think she may have been having a conversation with one of her children but I don't remember the details.

But that's not important. What's important is that the parent who was objecting to this reading assignment was indignant that it was part of the Core Curriculum to which her eight grader was "being exposed" and she found it to be inappropriate for this kind of stuff to be discussed in a public school. Never mind that TV, movies and everyday life overflows with such issues.

The more I look at this opposition to Core Curriculum the more I realize it is mostly another angle to the misguided, arch-conservative drift in public opinion responsible for the recent government partial shutdown and confrontation over the debt ceiling. I don't think it is a stretch to suggest that this letter, this truly excellent and sensitive message to boys and men in general, would be anathema to the groups I have been describing. I so want to be wrong about this. But something dark inside tells me this is not magical thinking on my part.

No comments:

Post a Comment