Spinning The Wheel

Even at this physical distance, I am still trying to process what happened in Toronto this week.

As the mother of two sons who have diagnoses on the autism spectrum, and equally the mother of a daughter, and a grandmother of a lovely, sharp female toddler; I may well be stumped for the right words, too.

Marc Lepine. Elliot Rodger. Alek Minassian. The misappropriation of the term incel.

At the risk of overstating the obvious, Western culture really hasn’t learned a damned thing or made the tamping down of misogyny a priority. Who, or what, can we blame? This is a world that welcomed a perverted parasite to the Oval Office with open arms, and everyone else who can see the emperor for the naked criminal he is are no closer to evicting him, try as they might. He’s all about his base, and it continues to be a dispiritingly strong one.

I also think parents still aren’t talking to their children about consent and entitlement in personal and romantic relationships. Look: it’s never a bad time to do it. And a child’s level of ability, or disability, shouldn’t even play into it. I am signed on to take a workshop next week on the topic of sex and disability, to help me bring my younger son up to speed, in a way he will hopefully understand, but I know there will be a need for remediation based on his personality, if only to remind him to keep his hands away from the front of his pants in public.

It is also incredibly important to keep top of mind that autism did not rent a cargo van and mount a sidewalk this week. Autism is not facing ten counts of first-degree murder and thirteen fourteen counts of attempted murder. Autism does not leave a breadcrumb trail of YouTube videos and a lengthy manifesto rife with vitriol towards the women who turn it down for sex. Autism does not radicalize itself.

We need to start with that, and prioritize conversations about mental health, generally, at home, at school, and in the workplace. Places where people gather, as a matter of course, on a daily basis.

And, since the personal is also political, we must reclaim the base. I am surprising myself by agreeing with Kanye West: self victimization is a disease. No one’s interests are served when it’s the practice to mollycoddle people who routinely behave badly and have learned that there is no real, lasting consequence for it.

If it is my job to teach my children how to get along in the world, why are so many others not out there doing the same? It’s time to get real.

It’s time to replace blame with basic human kindness. It’s time to turn the wheel.

In Ontario, Sex Ed Is A Hot Button Campaign Issue, But Here’s Why It’s So Much More Than That And Should Be Left Alone

It is a truth often painful for parents to acknowledge: our children, lawt help us, will one day reach an age of their choosing and become sexual beings.

The sex-ed curriculum implemented by the Ontario Liberals in 2015 may not be perfect, but for many kids it’s better than not hearing about the mechanics and implications from their parents. Not every parent is like me, who stood up at the kitchen table armed with condoms and bananas, eliciting embarrassed laughter from my older kids.

The if we don’t tell them and hopefully they remain ignorant approach is foolhardy and presupposes a level of immaturity that sells kids short. They will figure it out, purity rings and waltzes with their fathers be damned.

If you want to protect your children from the dangers of sex, here are some suggestions:

1) Teach your sons and daughters not to commit sexual assault. That no means no, regardless of when their partner says it.

2) Teach your sons and daughters that they have the right to say no to any act that makes them uneasy or uncomfortable.

3) Teach that sexual abuse from anyone, priest, parent, relative, or other predator; is wrong. Make sure your children know they can come to you when something happens, without further physical or emotional abuse from you.

4) If you can’t be that person in your child’s life, then someone else will. And it’s going to happen either in the classroom, or on the school yard. As the adult you need to choose wisely and out of fairness for your child that honours his or her autonomy and personhood at every age.

5) And while by no means an afterthought, if your older children don’t know the names Rehtaeh Parsons and Amanda Todd, to mention just two, then they probably should.

Ultimately, however, this post is my plea and call to arms, that little is done to tamper with the current programming in Ontario’s elementary and secondary schools, by whoever forms the next provincial government.