Pranks and the Rape Culture

[Trigger warning for bullying/child abuse, incest, sexual violence.]

Yesterday, I wrote about a school-sanctioned parental prank at a high school in Minnesota, in which sports captains were blindfolded and promised a special kiss from a classmate, but were instead kissed by their parents. In the video of the incident, parents can be seen planting big smooches on their kids; one parent-child couple rolls around on the floor, and one mom grabs her son's hand and puts it on her butt. The entire scene is played for huge laughs.

Shaker Demivierge dropped into comments the link to an editorial in the local newspaper, which runs interference on behalf of the school and parents. There's a lot of minimizing and excuse-making and finger-wagging at anyone who takes issue with the "prank," and then there's this pathetic admonishment not to believe your lying eyes:
The parents hammed it up as they played their part. At least, we assume nobody was making out as intensely as the video seems to show. [Rosemount High School principal John Wollersheim] and others who were there say they weren't, and we tend to believe them. Parents have taken the opportunity at many other RHS pep fests to make their kids a little uncomfortable, but we suspect they'd all draw the line at the kind of passionate kisses the video seemed to show.
Just casually assuming that every parent would "draw the line" at sexual intimacy with hir own child is absurd. I also wrote yesterday about the CDC survey which found that "Nearly 1 in 5 women (18.3%) and 1 in 71 men (1.4%) in the United States have been raped at some time in their lives," and, of those survivors, 42.2% of female victims experienced their first completed rape before age 18, and 27.8% of male victims experienced their first rape when they were 10 years of age or younger. Over half of all survivors reported being raped by someone they knew.

Some of those children who were raped by someone they knew were raped by their parents. And many more will have been subjected to inappropriate sexual contact that doesn't meet the technical definition of rape.

Do the editors of the Rosemount TownPages believe that a parent who sexually abuses hir child will self-select out of a public event at which they have been given license to make out with hir kid? Because that's not how abusers work. That there was even a chance that a parent who's sexually abused hir kid just got an official stamp of approval from mandated reporters to go for it should underline how incredibly inappropriate this incident was, irrespective of what it "looked like," or what we might like to assume.

And, listen, I'm not a parent (but I am a daughter), and it's my impression that most parents, even the best ones, sometimes forget what it's like to be a kid. That's not a function of parenting; it's a function of human nature. I forget sometimes what it's like to be a kid, inclined as are we all to cast our minds backwards and look out through the eyes of memory with perspectives and instincts formed in the intervening years.

But I suspect that what constitutes a not-passionate kiss to me now, as an adult woman, would be very different than what constituted a not-passionate kiss to me as a teenage girl. A standard good-night kiss with my husband would have turned my legs to jelly when I was an unsophisticated kid, so new to the world of sexuality that when the math teacher on whom I had a crush gave me an entirely appropriate kiss on the cheek at the end of the year, I nearly fainted. (Or jizzed in my pants. Or both.)

I guess I'm just not sure that what feels not-passionate to a parent who knows zie's kissing hir kid definitely feels the same way to the kid who doesn't know zie's kissing hir parent. And that's is, suffice it to say, a problem.

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