If you’ve been on Facebook at all in the last 24 hours, then you might have seen a blog post being shared by a large number of well-known mom bloggers. The post, titled, “Why I Told My Daughter To Kick Your Son In The Balls,” which has been burning rubber across the land of interwebs, was written by Mandi Castle, author of the blog, Cellulite Looks Better Tan.
In it, Castle argues for parents to condition their daughters to defend themselves from boys who participate in rape culture behaviors like pulling hair, snapping bras, and name-calling under the name of flirting or “boys will be boys”-style antics. For Castle, though, these are more than antics — they are dangerous behaviors. Still, she realizes that if daughter defends herself from them, it may land her in the principal’s office. In that case, Castle has a plan.
Recently, Castle’s daughter, who is in first grade, got upset about boys chasing her at school. After realizing that her daughter wasn’t exaggerating or being overly dramatic, Castle stopped in her tracks to listen closely to what she had to say.
In her post, Castle writes:
“‘Tell me exactly what happened, ‘ I said. She went on to say that some boys were hitting her butt on the playground, and when she told them to stop, they called her chubby and laughed at her. That’s right. Two boys put their hands on my daughter, and when she told them to stop, they called her fat and made fun of her. Let that sink in for a second.”
So, like any fierce mom, Castle gave her daughter the following advice, which has moms everywhere giving fist pumps of approval.
“‘NO. You will not let two boys ruin your free time. You will not allow them to take your fun away. They are breaking the rules. If they do that tomorrow, you say, ‘Keep your hands off of me.’ If they do not stop, you tell the teacher. If they continue to bother you, you turn around and step on their feet, or kick them in the shins or their business, and if you get in trouble, go ahead and tell your teacher to give me a call.'”
The underlying theme in this post that striking a serious chord with parents is that rape culture exists. I reached out to author Mandi Castle to get her take on why this post has gone bananas online in the last few days.
“There’s a quiet tolerance of male entitlement, the kind where men (and apparently boys) think they have some sort of ownership of our bodies,” Castle told Babble. “Where a man can literally say he grabs women by their genitalia and still get elected to the highest-powered office in the United States. Where at my husband’s 20th year reunion, his classmate feels like it’s acceptable to grab my ass without apology — and I say nothing because I don’t want to cause a scene. A world where women are blamed for what they wear and how much alcohol they’ve had to drink when they are held down and forced to have sex against their will. We allow girls to be sent home from school for wearing what a school deems as inappropriate clothing because we can’t distract a boy from his learning with knees or shoulders. Rape culture most definitely exists. Sharing experiences like my daughters give us an opportunity to talk to our children, both our sons and our daughters, about respect and consent and how important both are at any age.”
Statistics back up her claims about rape culture. According to RAINN, every 98 seconds an American becomes a victim of sexual assault, stating, “On average, there are 321,500 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States.” With numbers like this and the prevalence of a “boys will be boys,” mentality, it’s no wonder that Castle is not only worried for her daughter — but is teaching her how to defend herself at such a tender age.
“Hearing my daughter tell me that a boy groped her at school filled me with rage for her and brought back memories of all of the times that I was groped and did nothing but laugh it off as ‘boys will be boys,’ or worse, ignore it completely,” Castle told Babble. “At that moment, I knew I had to empower her to defend herself, and the more I thought about it, I realized I never felt that kind of power myself, so I hoped in writing about my daughter’s experience, it might open up some dialogue between parents with their sons and daughters about how to handle a situation such as this one on both sides of it.”
Needless to say, her story has been shared all over social media and is popping up in news feeds everywhere. Said Castle, “I’m a little overwhelmed with how relatable this is with so many women and men. I’ve received countless private messages from moms (and dads) who applaud me for teaching my daughter to defend herself.”
The Internet also has a lot to say about rape culture and machoism.
“Some have shared stories from their pasts where they were in the same position but didn’t feel strong or brave enough to stick up for themselves,” said Castle. “Even some of my non-feminist mom friends (and I have a lot of them) have rallied behind me on this topic. I think it’s resonated with so many women because we have all, at one time or another, been in this position, and in a lot of cases, we didn’t defend ourselves, but in teaching our daughters to defend themselves, we can help break that cycle of males feeling free to touch our bodies without consent.”
As a mom of two boys and one girl, I for one applaud Castle’s bravery for writing this strongly worded essay with such a clear message about bodily autonomy. Well done, Mama!