10.29.2016

Asking for Consent / Teaching our Sons / Phineas Gage


The New Sex Ed Talk

As the mother of two sons, I am beginning to accept that I must introduce the topic of consent, consent pertaining to asking for a verbal approval prior to engaging in any physical contact with a future female romantic interest. 

I see this is a win-win: One, the basic premise is communicated and established that another person is in charge of his or her own person, not to be touched, moved or handled without her verbal consent. Silence is not consent; the cautionary note to all aroused young men.

e.g. "If you are feeling romantic and affectionate towards a girl, it's normal to want to touch her, but you must ask. Can I put my arm around your shoulder, kiss you...take off your sweater?" Yes, it feels Jimmy Stewart 1950's, but the consequences of being misunderstood are grave and we must impress that each and every person holds the right to yes or no over their body.  Might I add, if you expect your son to possess the wherewith to speak of such topics - with his romantic love - as birth control, STI's, and condoms, it seems equally reasonable that they should speak to issues of consent as well. The communicative family additionally addresses the importance of premarital sex and unwanted pregnancy as soon as their young adult is able to grasp the meaning. 

The second win here is that my son, if learned early on, will hopefully minimize liability and avoid the potential that he might be accused of malicious aggressive or unwanted advances. I want my kids to be real men, like, Be a Man! But not just any man, be the right kind of man. 

The influencing and determining qualities that hold men in success throughout their lives are self-control and impulse control. Prisons are made up of men who lacked in impulse control; it's the common denominator. Newspaper headlines and toppled ivory towers are made up of men, fallen from grace, who lacked in self control; that is what decimates one's financial, professional and psychological empire. 

Yes, it is obvious that I am motivated by a incidents that have occurred in over the last several months. Specifically, the news media reported the facts of a Stanford college student who has been accused and convicted of rape of a female college student while she was unconscious. The media uproar over his pitiful sentencing was enough to motivate me and several other attentive mothers and fathers to bring this conversation to the dinner table. 

There was a time when this kind of conversation would've been taboo. But I believe that ship has sailed and, in fact, if there's any silver lining to that high-media case, it is the idea that we can learn from it and incorporate ideals and expectations for model citizenry of our sons. Perhaps the first step is normalizing the power of sexual cravings, with the understanding that curbing ones desire in the moment is necessary and expected self-control. Anything less than self-control is impulsive and dangerous.

The other public reporting news incident has been along the lines of the presidential election and the candidates. While I cringe to think that my adolescent son is becoming acquainted with the Presidential election in such a cloud of language that feels dark and creepy ("groping," and "pussy," to name two) it is a fabulous opportunity to discuss the seriousness of unwanted sexual advances as well as the way we speak about each other when we're with friends and no one is looking, as well as the consequences of desire and infidelity. 

No matter which person is your candidate I hope that you are able to find some kernel of value in this muck swamp of an election to bring an open discussion to your young adults and implement values of your family. 

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Our Meditation for Everyone class just finished at Mira Costa College. What a great turn out, with 23 students! Here's a solid article on the beginnings of Meditation. Look for my next class, Spring 2017.

Here is an article on the most famous brain injury patient, Phineas Gage; we thank him for his critical contribution to the professional advancement of understanding human brain development and the field of psychology. 

In 1848, Gage, 25, was the foreman of a crew cutting a railroad bed in Cavendish, Vermont. On September 13, as he was using a tamping iron to pack explosive powder into a hole, the powder detonated. The tamping iron—43 inches long, 1.25 inches in diameter and weighing 13.25 pounds—shot skyward, penetrated Gage’s left cheek, ripped into his brain and exited through his skull, landing several dozen feet away. Though blinded in his left eye, he might not even have lost consciousness, and he remained savvy enough to tell a doctor that day, “Here is business enough for you.”