How We Teach Our Sons To Rape

This is why we need to take teaching men not to rape very seriously.


16 thoughts on “How We Teach Our Sons To Rape

      • “meri laaj main hoon, chunar bhi main hoon, chunar pe daag bhi main”
        “laga chunari mein daag CHUUPAOON KAISE” (the emphasis on hiding the fact of being raped)

        “ho gayi maili mori chunariya, kore badan si kori chunariya
        jaake baabul se nazarein milaau kaise, ghar jaau kaise”

        these kind of lyrics in popular cinema reinforce the shame of being raped.
        sorry Ihm some problem with the link,not working at all.


        • Once we can see how these songs reinforce the idea of shaming of rape survivors/abuse survivors, it’s difficult to hear them without noticing what they are propagating.


        • @ IHM too.

          Two things here:

          One, the original song is spiritual in nature and at the end there is a para that says ‘kori chunariya atma mori, mail hai maaya jal; woh duniya more babul ka ghar, yeh duniya sasuraal…’ So no, the original song isn’t about shaming of rape and abuse victims.

          Two, neither is this song. Listen to the lyrics, if you will….they reflect the internalisation of the shame that our culture inflects, yes, but given how the movie deals with the issue, it is hard to take this song as reinforcing of the notions of izzat and turn into a brilliant reflection of how women have internalised it. There is sexual exploitation in this movie, not rape. The age old story of sexual favours exchanged for money. And there is a rather sensitive exploration of how the notion of chastity
          becomes a crucial point of reference even internally.

          And you’d agree, I think, that the difference between an external ‘should’ and an internal ‘should’ is profound.


        • I absolutely agree with the spiritual/sufi interpretation of the song.But sadly I hope you would agree that the masses ,the majority would not understand and serach for the symbolic meaning
          but simply understand that a girl who is cheated into loosing her virginity bears the blame and is is no position to see her father(patriarchy) eye to eye.

          No one even once mentions taking a legal recourse and the perpetrator is shown to get away.

          Why is her loosing her virginity,whatever the circumstances such a big deal?
          why should she hide the daag?
          why should she say chunar ka daag bhi main?
          or baabul se nazrein milaoon kaise?

          But In the context of the film which was named “laga chunari main daag” and has this song,the main lead is sexually exploited in lieu of a job and then even more disturbingly is shown “to play their game at her own terms”,as one of the other character says in the film by transforming a small town simple girl Vibha into a highly paid escort.

          I have a huge problem about the message that sends to hundreds of aspiring girls in small towns as the girl’s father says in the film”badi chali thi beta banne”.

          My whole point was that we as a society not only condone sexual violence,but show the victims/survivors as the blame holders.We want our daughters to be like sons and because their are predators every where we would then suggest restrictions on our daughters and not sensitize our sons.


  1. “If you dismiss these boys as monsters, if you assume that these assaults are simply isolated crimes committed by teenage sociopaths, then you are part of the problem.”

    Really nicely written post. I totally agree with the above quote from the post.


  2. Everything in this post is accurate — but it’s only half the story. The current script for mating-behaviour is influenced as much by women and girls as by men and boys. Yes, we should tell our boys about consent, about respect, about mutuality. But we should *also* teach our girls. We should teach them that having sexual urges is not something shameful or bad, that they are have the right to say no, and have that wish respected; but *also* and equally important, the right to say YES. Not reluctantly and after repeated prodding, but enthusiastically and openly.

    Because this also contributes to the problem. Currently girls really do (sometimes) act reluctant or play hard to get, even when in reality they are not. Because they fear that saying yes would give them a negative label, would lead people to lose respect for them, or would lessen their worth as human beings. Some people still think a seuxally active 20-year-old woman is somehow less worth than a equally-old woman who is a virgin.

    It’s fine to teach boys to stop being pushy, to be more careful, to await consent. But we can’t do only that. Because today, the sad reality of the situation is that if a boy is NOT assertive. If a boy does NOT take initiative. If a boy waits for the girl to explicitly signal interest or consent, in all likelihood the only result is that he ends up bitter and alone. This is better than ending up as a rapist, but it’s still bad.


    • Absolutely, A few years ago when I was a research scholar and in my first job as a lecturer in a university here and in a long-term relationship I realized that so many other ladies who were even engaged to be married soon or in a relationship for many years would not acknowledge not being virgins or sexually active.
      As if having said “yes” would label them promiscuous. Pre-marital consensual sex between two adults,marital rape,child abuse,sexual perversions,sexual abuse,paid sex,pornography anything that uses the word SEX is taboo even for urban,educated,independent middle-class “good girls”.
      Once a colleague asked me what qualities I liked in my then boy friend now husband and I had mentioned the word “desirable” ,oh there was such a scandal and this happened in an elite college staff room of a modern city where all the ladies sitting had a masters degree or even more !!


      • Agree with Agrajag very much. Yes the article is well written and I agree with the author’s views, but we must teach our daughters how to be assertive, and not fall into stereotypical patterns of behavior such as ‘playing hard to get’ and ‘saying no while your eyes and smile are saying yes’.

        I don’t have a daughter, I have 2 boys. I’ve always practiced straight talk with my husband and my sons. I always say what I mean. If I’m upset, I don’t sulk, I try to communicate my feelings. If I have a need, I don’t try to charm, impress, or manipulate my husband to get it met. If we can teach our sons that women are capable of being logical, rational, straightforward, then they will see girls their age as having a mind of their own.

        I blogged about this at


    • I think it all boils down to this: stop teaching boys and girls that they are vastly different from each other. Yes, there are certainly biological differences, but in the end, men and women are more alike than they are dissimilar.
      Encouraging them to have friends from both genders is also important.
      I say this as someone who grew up with no brothers and no male cousins my age. I really didn’t even have legit male friends till I was about 14 or so. However, despite the late start, I did end up being friends with enough boys/men to realise that we’re all pretty much the same.
      I think that’s important.


    • “We should teach them that having sexual urges is not something shameful or bad, that they are have the right to say no, and have that wish respected; but *also* and equally important, the right to say YES. Not reluctantly and after repeated prodding, but enthusiastically and openly.”

      I cannot agree more with that!


  3. I mostly agree with the overall message of this article regarding teaching boys about consent. However there are parts I don’t agree with:

    “When my son is a teenager, he will almost certainly go to parties. He will drink. He might experiment with drugs. He will try to rebel against authority figures, myself included. He will test boundaries. This is what teenagers do. These things are normal.”

    This may be ‘normal’ for many American teenagers but it doesn’t have to be the norm for your family. There are ways to avoid the drugs/drinking culture/irresponsible sex culture – by actively talking to your children about drugs/drinking/irresponsible sex, by giving them an education in life, by discussing values such as honesty, responsibility, and respect in relationships, and by practicing those values yourself. And most importantly – by giving them alternative, healthier ways to socialize with their peers.

    My son is 14, turning almost 15. He interacts with girls his age in healthy, positive environments. At the basketball camp where he volunteers to teach special needs kids, he meets lots of teenagers, boys and girls who give their time and talents to help these kids. At his Kung Fu class, he meets boys and girls who compete all year round for the next ‘belt’. After class, they hang out at the Baskin and Robbins (ice cream place) next door.

    He doesn’t lead a restricted life. He has fun, is a ‘normal’ teenager, along with tons of other ‘normal’ teenagers in this group of kids, normal but without the drugs/drinks/irresponsible sex part.

    “Do I necessarily want him to do these things? No, not really.”

    If you don’t want him to do these things, you do have the power as a parent to inspire him to be a responsible person.

    “It won’t matter whether or not I give my son permission to do these things; he will lie to me or otherwise deceive me and do them anyway.”

    Yes, this happens when we try to restrict children in the name of protecting them. When we punish boys for being interested in sex, when we restrict girls to dress and behave in a certain way to ‘protect them’, we are paving the way for lies, deception, or rebellion.

    If we can educate our kids, have honest communication, make sure they fully understand the consequences of irresponsible behavior, allow them to fail in smaller ways, in safer environments, they will be able to pick themselves up, and will not be compelled to ‘experiment’ with devastating consequences.

    “But these are the things that I did when I was in high school.”

    Just because you made some mistakes when you were growing up doesn’t mean your son is condemned to repeat them. Many of us growing up in India have no idea what parenting is. When we had our own kids, we’ve had to learn, from scratch. Many of us grew up in a deeply patriarchal society. When we became adults, we had to unlearn these beliefs, learn to be adults, learn to live our lives with dignity, respect, and choices. Some of us who’ve had this type of realization don’t pass on these ideas to our kids or dismiss such ideas as ‘normal’. It is possible to change, to break the cycle.

    “My son will grow up with books, films and music that teach him that sex is a conquest, rather than something that is born out of mutual desire and consent.“

    Yes, I’m all too aware of this ‘sex as a conquest’ concept in North America. While popular media may reinforce these ideas, again it is very much within our power as parents to have a positive influence on our children.

    I’ve always limited TV time for my kids. In their free time, they had 2 choices – they could go outside and play (I would actively play with them) or they can stay inside and read. We did a lot of field trips with them. Now, at ages 14 and 10, they LOVE reading and sports. They don’t crave mindless TV shows or violent video games. Their favorite outings are to aquariums and museums. My older son loves reading – and we discuss and share everything we read – including controversial topics – no taboos here.

    Without restricting our children or protecting them from the negative stuff, if we can expose them to lots of positive experiences, they will make good choices, responsible choices. And it will not be forced, it will come from their hearts, they will ‘be good because they want to be good’, and not out of fear of being caught. And they will base their actions on their own internal value system, one we helped nurture, as parents.


  4. @psharmarao

    I am not a supporter of dumbing-down books, movies etc so that the masses may understand. If plain statements can’t be understood by some or many, then it is because of a cognitive bias and there is no cure for that. People see what they want to see.

    And while we all have the freedom to interpret a message sent out by a movie in any way we wish, I have great trouble wrapping my head around the thought that anyone (small town girl or not) would take this movie to mean that sexual exploitation is fine or the cost of acceding to it is just fine and dandy. And while the movie does show how the blame is traditionally attributed and internalised, it also shows that the notion is balderdash and not necessarily accepted by all today. There is plenty in the last bit that drives the point home – from the protagonist’s younger sister, to the man she is engaged to, to the cameo of the kothewali…plenty that says that what matters is how you are as a person and not the state of your hymen. I find that a pretty good message to send out.

    And while I do get your point, and agree with it, I find this particular example a poor fit – simply because it drives home the point that the victims are not to be blamed, that they are neither to be shunned nor berated, regardless of what the traditional patriarchal values hold as true and sacrosanct. And I’d rather have that than either silence on the issue or a fantasy where what is is not shown.


    • @ Ritu,
      thanks for showing me another perspective on the issue.My example here was not about the post directly but yes about how our popular media reinforces the gender stereotypes for both boys and girls,and my core problem with this film was how a girl needs to find validation from men and society at all junctures of her life and keep striving to “be like a son”
      these are lyrics from another popular folk song which again has many versions:

      agle janam mohe bitiya na kijo

      “hamare sajanava hamara dil aisa todan
      woh ghar basaaya hamaka rastama chhodan
      jaise kee lalla koyee khilauna jo paave
      do chaar din toh khelan phir bhul jaave
      ro bhee naa paave aisee gudiya naa kee jo”

      “Agle janam mohe bitiya na keejo
      Bitiya jo keejo tou phir aisa keejo
      Bitiya ke jaisa bhagya na deejo”

      “Bachpan main babel ke aangna main dooli
      Yuvan main biran ki booli main booli
      Laaya jo doli usiki main holi
      Marzi ka apna na tanva na manva”

      “Sita bhi bankar satayi gayee main
      Ansuyia ban kar jalaye gayee main
      Chuasar main pasaa banyee gayee main
      Chinti banayeo ya chidiya banayeo
      Naari banane ka kasht na kijo”

      Thanks Ritu for making this a thought-churning discussion.


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