So by now you’ve probably heard about the thoroughly depressing results of a survey that was recently conducted by the Washington Post. If you haven’t, I link so you can browse at your leisure, but the short version: One in five women who attended college in the last four years reported being sexually assaulted, either by force or when they were incapacitated and unable to consent.
One in five. Meditate on that. Twenty percent. One. In. Five.
Now, I know that most men will find that statistic as sickening and horrifying as I did. Most men are not rapists. #NotAllMen and all that. (But then again, why does anyone non-ironically tweet #NotAllMen and assume that this is in any way good enough? Why aren’t all these super-menschy #NotAllMen tweeters vocally and visibly agitating for the day when they can tweet, in all sincerity, #NotANYMen? But I digress.)
The point is, the Handsome Husband and I are parents of a daughter and a son, and they’re both at an age where we’re starting to talk to them about…stuff. We’re telling them that their bodies belong to them alone, and that they get to call the shots. We’re telling them — importantly — that other people’s bodies belong to other people and should be respected without question. As they get a little older, we will teach them that their dates don’t “owe” them anything, no matter how many drinks they’ve poured down the other party, and even if they and the other person have gotten together before. We’re telling them they can come to us with anything, ask us anything, and they will be heard and answered.
Nevertheless, poll results like One In Five make me want to lock Mini-Me in particular away from the world, forever. I mean, look how well that worked for the family of this asshole:
(That’s Josh Duggar, by the by. If you don’t know his story, go Google him, because I can’t even.)
So instead of locking her up forever in a room guarded by Vin Diesel, Jason Statham, Imperator Furiosa, and a pack of ravenous pit bulls, I decided to arm Mini-Me with information. She’ll be off to college soon enough, and while her dream man currently looks like this:
…it’s only a matter of time before she discovers wild parties, spiked punch, and cute boys who exist in the real world and not just on her teevee on Sunday afternoon. (I mean, I know Aaron Rodgers exists in the physical world, but the odds of an encounter between him and Mini-Me seem remote.) Accordingly, I waited for a quiet moment, and then mentioned the results of the survey. I assured her that most men were going to be…more Aaron Rodgers than Josh Duggar, but there are enough Joshes in the world that she’s going to want to be careful, and in particular she’s going to want to avoid getting blackout drunk, for a number of very good reasons of which this is only one.
I also joked that we were going to get her a pistol for her high-school graduation present. Mini-Me gave me the side-eye as only she can and said, “Wouldn’t that be illegal?”
“You’re worried that it would be illegal to use a gun to protect yourself from a physical assault? Aren’t you adorable,” I said. Well, okay, I didn’t actually say that. I may have thought it. But then she said, “Could I get a big knife instead?”
“Well, okay,” I replied.
“No, I know!” she said enthusiastically, warming to her subject. “I want a dagger. Like the Dark One has in Once Upon a Time.”
And I think that’s a fabulous idea. She can wear it in a little sheath around her ankle. We’ll have her name engraved on one side of the handle; on the other, we will engrave the weapon’s name. — That’s right, her dagger will have a name, just like Arya Stark’s Needle and Brienne of Tarth’s Oathkeeper.
I’ve decided that Mini-Me’s dagger will be called Castrator. College men of the future, pay heed: Mini-Me will only unsheathe Castrator if she absolutely needs to. But if she absolutely needs to, she will not hesitate.
Of course, I’d prefer that she never needs to. I’d prefer that the world will change, and I’ll be able to send her off to college in a few years securely believing #NotAnyMen. I hate having to warn her not to let her drink out of her sight, and advising her to always stick with her friends for her own safety. I hate having to tell her that most men she meets at college will be perfectly lovely, but then turning around and telling her that there are a few who…are not at all lovely. I hate that one in five young women have had to learn these lessons the hard way.
It’s just sick-making, and apart from making cynical jokes about arming my daughter when she leaves the house, I really don’t know what to do about it.