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Fri Nov 30, 2012, 09:53 AM

The truth about what young men knew about rape years ago. [View all]

In 1959, when I was about to start high school, a skinny 6'1" kid with zits on his face, my father sat me down to give me "the talk." Not the one about reproduction. I had learned about that from the book my parents gave me when I was about 10. No. This talk was about responsibility. The take-away from that talk was that men had no right to have sex with anyone. My father was very clear about that. What he explained was that, unless there was eager, enthusiastic consent from the other person, engaging in any sexual activity with that person was simply wrong. Eager. Enthusiastic. Those were his words. That was "the talk."

And he was absolutely correct. I knew it. I understood it as soon as I heard him say it. And that's how I approached sexual activity in my teens and beyond, into adulthood. I listened to my father, because I knew him to be an honorable person and because what he said had the ring of absolute truth in it.

Now, did that talk keep me from being sexually active in high school? Not at all. Eager and enthusiastic partners in canoodling weren't all that scarce, really. But, it did keep me from ever forcing, wheedling, or emotionally coercing any sexual activity, even minor sexual activity, from anyone. As my father said, that would be simply wrong.

Maybe some boys didn't get that message, but it was not an uncommon message. Most boys didn't rape. They simply didn't.

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