Games Boys Play, Like Rape

in #psychology4 years ago (edited)

My daughter went to a party recently where she was the only girl. Allowing her to go was a tough call for my husband and me because she is just showing interest in boys and, well, we know things can get weird quickly when you're the "only" at any gathering. However, the friend who invited her is a great kid she's known since preschool. She went to the party and had a great time. It was only when she was noting a few parts that weren't fun that I grew concerned. She said sometimes the boys would play "boy games," and she felt left out.

This is the first event she's been to where it mattered whether you were a boy or a girl. Ages 9 and 10 are tough. Kids are gearing up to enter puberty, and pre-pubescence means absorbing everything you can about the social constructs of your culture.

Not the kids I'm writing about.
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For a minute, my daughter started crying. "I really didn't like their games. They're so stupid."

Hmm. "What games?" I asked.

"Games boys play. Like raping."

I work with men and women who have been raped. I have been raped. Rape is not a game, but there sat my daughter saying nonchalantly that "raping" was a "boy game." That her peers would drop on top of something or someone and dry hump them while saying they were raping it/them.


No no no no no no no. This is not okay.

Rape is not a game.

If this seems like it shouldn't be a big deal to you, you are wrong. The fact that kids who have no sexual experience at all are pretending to rape people for fun is a Really Big Deal. Kids are normalizing rape. They are making it casual. Acceptable. Silly. Fun. Through play. And what this means is they are buying toxic masculinity wholesale and selling it for a profit.

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There are reasons we can't let our kids play rape. For example:

It will never be okay for them to rape someone. But also. . .

If they are playing rape and then they are raped, how will they process their experience? Treating rape as a joke means they shouldn't feel bad about it. If rape is silly and fun, shouldn't they have enjoyed being denied the right to choose what happens to their bodies? And shouldn't they be ashamed if they are processing it otherwise?

That's what happens. When rape is treated as no big deal, that means if it happens and feels like a big deal, it's the fault of the victim. What we have here is rape culture.

What my daughter witnessed was the birth of rape culture from toxic masculinity within her peer group. Rape is a game that boys play because boys will become men and men have power. Boys pretend to rape girls and inanimate objects as a fun demonstration of power centered on their masculinity. Boys grow into men who do not take rape seriously.

We've seen this countless times. Consider Brock Turner, the Stanford swimmer who was caught in the act of raping an unconscious woman by a dumpster. Media portrayals of him as a competitive swimmer contributed to his meager 6 month sentence and ability to return to life post-jail (after only three months) while the woman he raped struggled to be taken seriously by the campus where the rape happened.

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I know you already know about Brock Turner, but let me say that again: He was caught in the act of raping an unconscious woman by a dumpster, sentenced to six months in jail, and was released after three all the while being commended for his academic and athletic prowess while the woman he raped was repeatedly silenced.

Is it any surprise boys think rape is a game?

I wish I had been surprised to hear that boys were "playing rape" at a birthday party. I wish my daughter had been surprised, or at least disturbed beyond the fact she wasn't included in the game because she isn't a boy.


When I was raped, I was 14 years old. I said no. I was scared and probably drugged because I was awake but unable to move my lower body even though I could feel the boy repeatedly jabbing me with his penis. He was hitting the wrong spot and not stopping so I finally shifted his penis so it would all end. It hurt. A lot. I bled. I recovered my mobility. I left.

When I tried to tell my mother what had happened, I was genuinely confused. It didn't help that she was yelling at me because she suspected I'd been "loose." We were in the car heading home. She pulled over on the side of the highway, locked the doors and shouted "Did you have sex?" at me until I said yes. Because I wasn't sure. Because I wanted her to stop. Because I was scared and hurting and I didn't know that he should have stopped when I said no. It should never have gotten to the point that I let him finish what he started simply so I could leave. I should never have been made to feel that helpless.

And as soon as I said yes, I knew it was rape, but didn't know if that still made it sex. So I suffered the consequences of my "looseness" by being heavily policed over the next three years. To the point I created false diaries with admissions of guilt to things I had never done because my mom needed something to punish me for. And, at least, if I made up the thing I was being punished for, I had some control over it.

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Maybe this strikes you as odd, but I didn't really break rules and the view of me was that if I weren't getting in trouble, it's because I was hiding something. So I fed the expectation. It had the odd result of helping keep my shame for being raped at bay. It also reinforced my identity as a writer.


I didn't tell my mother it was rape until I was in my late twenties. By then I had been through therapies and was on medication and she had grown enough as a person to hear me. She was horrified, but it only took her a year to turn my admission around into a different story which other members of my family were fed. My history was altered, including the moment my mom drove me over to that boy's house. I sat in the car while she told his mom "what these kids have been up to." The boy exited the house, smirked at me (and consequently I loathe that word), then went on his way while his mom heard out mine.

Would my mom have blamed me for my rape if she hadn't been indoctrinated by rape culture? Not a chance. The moment when I shared with her what had really happened, she was there for me. It was such a relief to be living in the truth for once. And even though she has again altered my narrative, it is because she has not yet reached the point where she is capable of living with my truth. That's okay. I have.

I also live with the truth of many other survivors, male, female and otherwise identified. I hold space for it and teach how to write about it. I honor individual growth. The saddest part is I never run out of people to help. Because rape is common. Rape is acceptable. Rape is a game. A game little boys play on trampolines in their back yard. A game that makes rape the fault of the victim.

We need to teach our boys not to play rape, and not just because boys get raped too. We need to teach them so they can become survivors if they are raped and so they do not become perpetrators as they grow. And we can do this by making sure our girls know "playing rape" is a dealbreaker, and by sharing with our fellow parents what has happened when it does without judging them. After all, it's no one person's fault this is happening. Rape culture and toxic masculinity are social constructs. We are all part of society. We are all responsible for speaking up.

In fact, let's begin right now:

What would you say to a parent whose child was playing rape? What would you say to your child about being part of the game or witnessing it?

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I just wonder where do they get all that from ?
I will not comment anything, because it is obvious from only one sentence what I think about it.
As for that 'rape game' , it is obvious that somebody installed those things into their boys, they have no clue what they are doing.
A violence is not just rape, and not only a male thing or proving masculinity, it is not the whole-gender included either.
The both genders facilitate the sociopaths, and in many cases the whole society is included in violence towards the certain groups, usually in the cultures that are specially ( artificially) designed to deprive women of any social influence.
This in my opinion is work of the Devil, because when you decide to devalue 50% of a community you are actually destroying 50% of the community resources, without even taking a inhumane component in the account.


when you decide to devalue 50% of a community you are actually destroying 50% of the community resources, without even taking a inhumane component in the account.

Grandchildren are 13 and 10 and never in a million years would I think we would worry about a GAME of RAPE. Will advise their mom right away. Thank you for alerting us Nana's, parents and mentors.

As to how I feel? I will go with the "No. Nonononono!"

Right? It's a truly terrifying idea, and a worse reality!

Oh mine!
Rape game?
Never heard that before.
It should not be allowed amongst our children atall.
Am so sorry for your rape ma'am. You must have been hurt real bad.

I am safe and healthy now. Thank you. But the game did give me a bit of a scare and brought some hard memories to mind. I'm glad we agree this is not an appropriate game.

This is horrifying! Toxic masculinity and rape culture must be stopped.

That is learned behavoir.
So who's teaching them?
Rhetorical question.

Oh, Shawna, I am so sorry. Sorry about what happened to your daughter, sorry about what was done to you by the rapist and by your mother. I think it's incredible of you to even still have a relationship with her.

Now, to your very difficult question. I am not a parent, but I am an uncle to both boys and girls. To a parent of a child who did such a thing, I would - well, first I'd have to get past blind rage because that rarely helps communication - but then I'd start with just telling them. I would hope they'd be horrified and take it from there. If not, I would try and explain the harm. The harm their child could cause in a few years. The harm their child is suffering.

To a child... I honestly don't know how I'd tackle it. It is beyond me.

It's very difficult. I never want to be that mom who is communicating negative things about someone else's child. Especially because I know these kids and they are not malicious or anything like that. They've just picked this up somehow (maybe from the president?) and are working it out through play.

Thank you. I'm sorry to. As to my mom--I understand her motives and intentions. Nothing is cut and dried, and we barely have a relationship right now, although it has nothing to do with what is shared here.

It's negative, but it's also something they NEED to know, I think. I'd want to know.

I would too. I'm always grateful. It takes a village.

First, I found the link for this post on discord and was curious enough to seek it out. For all the talk about finding great content on steemit, I must say that it's not really working for me because of all the other things involved. But this - is a topic I would read anywhere without any incentive, and your passion for what you've written just shows through.

I saw your allusion to boys picking "the rape game" from the president and that is really so sad. Parents have a lot of education to do for their kids because the models the society has set up for them are just bullshit and kids absorb so much at this stage!

Aside being re-educated at home, how else, where else can they get the right education? Perhaps the right literature/media? Let's point them to them. Let's be selective, there's need for some control in this area and it must start early. All the so-called models are projected thru the mass/social media. Please continue to be careful with your daughter because even though the party supposedly went well, just look at this other side! I think you should let the parent of the boy that invited her know (even find out how active he was in the 'play'), perhaps they could speak with some other parents and then the chain goes on. Hopefully our kids can protect themselves to an extent and affect some of their mates too when they can tell the difference.

Wow, that is totally crazy. I cannot believe that the kids invented the game of raping! I would definitely talk to the parents and let them know what was going on. I'm sure that they didn't know or they would have put a stop to it...right? I sure hope they didn't know! I am so sorry for what happened to you as a teen and how you were treated. Thank you for telling your story and putting this out there. Rape is not acceptable at all, much less as a game played by little kids. It is so sad that they even know what that is....even if they don't really know what it is.

I could barely read this, the rage filling my brain was too loud. Being a parent of young kids was so terrifying for me at times, because of things like this.

I keep trying to think of how to reply and I just keep deleting my words. You are a strong woman.

I do a fair amount of scanning of posts, but I just read that word for word. Critical. My son is 8, so addressing things like this are becoming a part of my reality more often. Rape hasn’t come up yet, and I’m not sure how I would address so something like this. We talk about empathy a lot, partly because that is part of my own mission to keep my son from becoming a menace. I think I would start there — that rape is perhaps the ultimate lack of empathy, so definitely not a game. It is just sickening to imagine kids that age playing rape, partly because it’s hard to imagine that they can do so and not know what is at stake. I’m sure they have no idea how serious it is, and the significance is likely beyond them, but they still must know what sex is, and I agree that it has something to do with power/domination. So, given those thoughts, if I sound out my son was prticpting I would have to assume it was time to start having honest conversations about sex.

Empathy, exactly!!! And education and conversation, absolutely!

Holy crap!!! They learned that from somewhere!! :'(


I work in a high school, and today we had Melinda Tankard Reist come and talk to the boys at our school about the way men and woman are cultured via advertising, media and porn into viewing woman in a particular way, through a lens of objectification and violence. She asked them to be heroic, like the boys who caught that swimmer (she mentioned that) and stand up and say no, it's not okay if people make rape jokes, or treat woman in a particular way. She wanted them to critique the culture that manipulated them to view sex in such a way, to treat woman in a particular way. I spoke to the boys afterwards and they were quite shocked, as the content was just terrible - rape culture, violence, video games and the sexualisation of children and so on - but they also felt angry that they were being socialised by media in such a way. It was NOT okay for them. They don't want thier mothers, sisters, future wives, children hurt in such a way. There are great people, like Tankard Reist, saying no to this.

I was raped. I dont want to go into it. I know exactly how you feel. Lots of us have been - for some, it defines their entire lives from that point on. I dont feel it does me, now, but far out it makes me angry. I'm glad you are okay now.

I guess what I'm saying is that it's up to us to educate boys, to pull them aside and tell them what it means and why it might be hurtful. To teach them to empathise. I dont think the young kids here at to blame, so they should never be reprimanded, only educated.

Thank you for this resource! I will be looking in it for talking to my 12yo son, and probably recommend it to the school. I love that the children were made aware of how they were being socialized to view women. We need more awareness.

Normalising rape?, not so good of an idea. I think it's better that children are educated on rape and as you said making them understand that rape is not the fault of the victim. "Playing a rape game?" I didn't know such a game existed. Has it been there for long or was it these kids that just invented it. Either ways it's definitely a bad idea. The more rape becomes casualised, the more it looses it value and the anyone can just do it disregarding the intensity of what they've done. That's what I think.

I agree. And I think this game has been around for awhile. It's a control/dominance thing. Kids are always testing boundaries. It doesn't make the subject matter acceptable, but it makes the idea a smidge more understandable.

Not having kids of my own, but having had close relationships with a number of kids over the years, the first thing I would do would be to make certain that the lines of communication stayed open, and that they knew they could come to me with anything.

Beyond that, an honest discussion about what rape really means, and why it is never okay, and not something to be taken lightly, much less joked about. As a previous poster said, it is the ultimate in lack of empathy, and young kids are typically pretty naturally empathetic; once they are shown how harmful it truly is, I think the majority would decline to play rape games going forward. I hope.

I've been raped. It messed me up for a long time, and like so many women, I told no one. Not my mom, not my sister, not my friends. And I blamed myself for allowing it to happen, even though I said no, clearly, emphatically, and repeatedly.

I'm sorry for what happened to you, for how your mother increased your victimization, and for how many young lives are harmed by rape and sexual abuse, through no fault of their own. We have to change societal perceptions, which won't be easy, but is vitally necessary.

Thank you for sharing this. (#metoo) I’m glad we are doing this work together. We are talking to our daughter and her school about this. I am still trying to figure out how to feel safe addressing this to the parents. Sooner is better than later. :/

I agree, best to handle it quickly, before the kids morph the story into a more sanitized version. And definitely best for all parents involved to know what they're up against.

What a f***ing gut punch. Thank you for this piece. As a dad to four girls (and a baby boy now!) this scares the shit out of me. Also, as someone who was sexually "traumatized" as a boy (still wrestling with owning my vernacular: assault, abuse, rape?), I really really appreciate your perspective here on how this sets the stage for fragmentation when a boy or man is raped.

The fact that kids who have no sexual experience at all are pretending to rape people for fun is a Really Big Deal. ... They are buying toxic masculinity wholesale and selling it for a profit.

It is a big deal, and you're right, it should not be surprising in the culture they are steeped in. I honestly don't know how I would respond, but this is an important reminder for me to not simply wait and hope that day never comes. EVEN IF my kids are not exposed directly to it, their friends will be and the conversation needs to be had. You can't live in this world and be unaffected by rape culture.

Lastly, thank you very much for daring to be vulnerable (#BrenéBrown). It means a lot and helps others.

This response is deeply encouraging. Thank you. I’m sorry for your trauma and glad you felt represented in this conversation.

You’re right. We can’t wait until the topic comes to us.

This really upset me, hearing that rape could ever be seen as a game, how has our world come to this. Where have those boys learned this?
It really is up to the parents to educate their children. We are living in a world where everything is available to be seen just at the click of a button. But children need to be aware what they are seeing, parents need to be open about sex and body image and really place value on the word no.

Placing value on the word no. Emphatically agreed! We do a lot of practice around consent with tickling—we only tickle when permission is given. We always stop if we hear no or stop or if someone’s face or body shows they aren’t enjoying the game. There are so many ways to respect “no.” And it is our job as parents to teach them.

Definitely 100% behind you in educating our children about the value of No and the many different ways to respect it, just hope other parents feel the same.

I guess you experiencing that sexual assault did put you through a severe trauma
at that early age...sorry for the pain it caused you. In my opinion rape is seen as
a social misfit and it shouldn't be tolerated in our society...Desisting from the
game of rape
will be my strong advice to my kids if i'm to be in the parent's
shoes. I really admire your courage #strongwoman for letting this emotional
trauma out. @shawnamawna.

Thank you @emmanuelacheamp. When we raise our voices as a community against games like these, we are raising awareness and making the world safer for us all.

My heart breaks reading your post. I appreciate your honesty about what you have faced, and I appreciate your stance on this matter.

I have 5 daughters. I want each of them to know that their bodies are indeed their own until they willingly give their bodies to their husbands some day. We have talked about loving, committed sex. We have also talked about fight off attackers. I will be sure to talk with my wife about this matter so that we can approach this important topic more in the coming days. Thanks again and blessings as you teach and guide your daughter.

Thank you for educating your daughters about consent. It eases my worried mama heart to know you are de-stigmatizing assault through body empowerment. 💕

I don't know which is worse, the casual way the word is bandied about or the age of the kids.

I'm also at a loss.

I remember my parents caring for a group of boys for a sports event and they began telling each other that they'd "rape" one another, not actually knowing what they meant. My mum explained what it meant using a local movie they've seen and they were horrified. Needless to say, they must have heard and repeated something without being corrected. The boys are teens now and I hope they realize that rape is no fun and games.

I’m so glad they were corrected with context!

It makes you wonder where they got this from. I remember a rather odd moment when playing with my sister and she decided to play being a man raping me, by lying on top of me and I had to try and escape. It only ever happened that once and I can only surmise that she was trying to get some things worked out in her head. I dont remember our ages at the time.

I dont like to label things as toxic maculinity personally, as I feel like it claims that all masculinity is toxic and can be a broad brush that paints all men. However, rape and sexual abuse is unnervingly common and does seem to point to a culture of acceptance.

I mean, it's in all types of media, but you do begin to question peer influences or parents. I am still struggling with it having happened at all.

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A very brave, and incredibly important post. I only wish I had more steempower to have a more impactful upvote.

What is wrong with this world. I am sorry that your daughter had to go through that. I am sorry that it is just the beginning of her journey through a world infested with toxic masculinity. I am sorry that our generation and our mothers generation, and our grandmothers generation couldn't change it in time for her, despite our efforts.

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