UVa was chosen as the focal point of an article about rape culture that exists in universities across America. There are a number of things that should be learned.
I thought that I should preface my thoughts by saying a perfunctory ‘this is not about blame.’ And I mean that, it’s not about blame, that’s not my job, but it is about learning. From UVa’s President and Board of Visitors (who have their own troubled past as a group back in June of 2012) all the way down to RAs and lower level assistant deans, there needs to be learning and change of policies to facilitate the well being of the university’s youngest community members. University policies must be changed to facilitate the victim’s willingness to reporting these crimes. Focus groups are not even a beginning. Action is required. Suspending the Greek societies yesterday at UVa is a good first step. But this is just one step on a long journey.
There are lessons to be learned by federal and state legislators who have enacted laws that are protecting perpetrators of these heinous crimes. When it became known that the accused abductor of Hannah Graham had a history of sexual assault at CNU and Liberty, those schools told us they had to protect student’s privacy. These laws need to be reevaluated and changed appropriately. Now. But neither of us, you, my dear reader, nor I can do anything about any of that.
But there is one area that we can do something about and that is the area that I focus upon here. I have a question that comes from what I call ‘the dad paragraph.’ Here is that paragraph from the Rolling Stone article.
“Before Jackie left for college, her parents – a Vietnam vet and retired military contractor, and a stay-at-home mom – had lectured her about avoiding the perils of the social scene, stressing the importance of her studies, since Jackie hoped to get into medical school. Jackie had a strained relationship with her father, in whose eyes she’d never felt good enough, and always responded by exceeding expectations – honor roll, swim team, first-chair violin – becoming the role model for her two younger brothers. Jackie had been looking forward to college as an escape – a place to, even, defy her parents’ wishes and go to a frat party. “And I guess they were right,” she says bitterly.”
Let me zoom in on one phrase “…she’d never felt good enough….”
Let that sink in.
Of course, I don’t know Jackie’s dad. I cannot pretend to imagine how He feels. I have great sympathy for him as a dad. This is not about him. It’s about us. We who are dads of girls and younger women, I have one question:
What have you said or done today to help your daughter know that, in your eyes, she not only good enough, but is amazing. No matter her flaws, her rebellion, the fights she has with her mother, you make damn sure she knows that in your eyes she is an amazing young woman who is unconditionally loved. That is your most important job with her. If you are a follower of Jesus, you have received this unconditional love, the love of the Father who gave His ONLY son, for you.
If she knows that she is amazing in your sight and is loved unconditionally, you may very well have a voice into other areas of her life.
And you can do that even when you can’t give her all the rest of it: clothes, expensive education, etc. Give her that foundation of unconditional love that will cause her to actually hear your counsel and warnings.
Not a dad? Encourage one who is. Maybe even send them these words or give him yours.
Culture is not changed by university presidents, protesters or legislators; culture is changed one life at time. YOU have the ability to affect a life and change culture. When they talk about a culture of this and that, remember, you can affect lives.