Slaying the Tickle Monster

I no longer attack my daughter with tickles.

She doesn’t like it because she says it makes her feel like she is going to pee. Sneaking up on her and attacking her with the “tickle monster” while she was frantically telling me to stop, seemed to me to all be in jest. That is until I realized that I was giving her voice no power. She was saying “NO, STOP, I DON’T LIKE IT, OR WANT THIS.”

By continuing to tickle her, I was saying with no words at all, I can overpower you, I can do what I want to your body and person and I don’t need your consent. How awful is that?

In social development a clear understanding of consent must be learned at a very young age and it is important that as parents, and responsible citizens, we teach it. I think we ought to be even more cognisant of how young boys deal with consent. A boy being tickled, or wrestled with more often than not, has his voice ignored. Just a little rough housing has no harm, unless said boy doesn’t want it. A boy, just like a girl, needs to know if he says no, it means no. If he hears no, it means no. If we as adults, reject his voice, how can we expect him as a grown man to respect the voice of someone else?

This past school year a group of boys tried to kiss girls in my daughter’s class. Why the boys wanted to do this is irrelevant-what mattered is many of the girls didn’t want to be kissed. The boys would chase, girls would scream. What might seem to be 5 year olds being silly kids is a root to a much deeper problem. The understanding of control of your body, respect of another’s and fully understanding any advancement towards another person is not acceptable without their consent, is fundamental in social upbringing. Why is this such an important lesson that must be instilled consistently, and from the start?

Rape. Just writing it makes me cringe. Having two young daughters I am more aware of rape culture than I ever used to be. The fact that rape culture is even a description of an epidemic sweeping our society is an awful reality, but is a reality that cannot be ignored.

Unwanted sexual advancements and assaults, especially in schools (places that should be held in the highest regard in society), are occurring at staggering levels-with many cases never being reported at all. We cannot be silent about it. When you have college campuses draped with banners proudly boasting appalling messages of RAPE, you’ve got a major problem on your hands.

It is not all in good fun to flaunt “thank you fathers for freshmen daughters” or “fresh meat” or “you’ve been her daddy for 18 years, we’ll take it from here” or the worst of the bunch, “NO MEANS YES”.

No should be the most powerful word anyone can say to another person. NO doesn’t just mean NO, it means STOP. The problem is somehow, especially with a mob mentality, consent is seen as an ambiguous concept that is up for interpretation. When in fact, consent should be and is the clearest damn thing that exists. If a person doesn’t say yes, then they have said no.

Let’s make sure our little boys and little girls know this while learning their ABC’s and 123’s and if you have to slay the “tickle monster” to help teach this lesson, bring out the sword.

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