“It’s okay to force a girl to have sex if she has been flirting with you.”
That’s what an astonishing 1 in 7 Australian boys say.
There’s a survey out today, from the White Ribbon Foundation, about domestic and family violence (press release PDF – 104KB). The statistics are appalling (there’s a surprise!), but it’s the attitudes that have me in despair, especially the attitudes of boys. The other beauty – 1 in 3 Australian boys think it’s okay to hit a girl.
These attitudes are strongest among 12 to 14 year old boys, which either suggests that older boys have grown up a little, and thought longer and harder about how to interact with girls, or that they have learned how to hide their attitudes, and come out with the socially acceptable platitudes. I hope it’s the former, but given the incidence of rape and violence in our societies, I fear that it’s the latter. 1 in 3 year 10 girls (year 11 in NZ), that is, girls in their eleventh year of education, aged about 15 or 16, say that they have experienced unwanted sex. That would be rape, of course, but we daren’t use that word. But that suggests that the boys learn to say that it’s not okay to force a girl to have sex, but their actions are quite different. And whatever they are doing, they are not conceptualising their actions as rape – it’s ‘forced sex’.
When will boys and men learn that ‘No’ means ‘No’, and forcing a woman or a girl to have sex when she has said ‘No’ is rape.