30 August 2010
Day 156: The Curse of Chalion
One of the early problems that our hero Cazaril runs into is the disfigurement on his back. While he was a slave he was beaten and left with scar tissue. In his home country, this is the same punishment given to traitors and people who rape virgin women and young boys. Why virgins are singled out...well, it's all about property value I suppose. Anyway, as Cazaril makes his way home, he stops at a bath house and the young attendant sees the marks and asks if Cazaril is a traitor. He replies in the negative, being weary from the road and not thinking of what the next conclusion would be.
So here we have a man, who happens to have served his country quite well and who abhors rape of any kind, and even though he ends up marrying a younger woman* is still very aware of all the issues of doing so and has made a point throughout the novel of not pressing his suit. This man was refused service and almost had his reputation ruined in court because of somebody's assumption. And if you think we're over that pettiness think again.
I've had male friends who wanted to go and have gone into the teaching profession. They are very, very careful about how they present themselves to students, parents, and everyone else because they are terrified of being accused of improper relationships or sexual abuse. These are men who have the disadvantage of genuinely caring about our youth and matching the physical and/or social stereotype of "the creepy guy living in his mom's basement." They have weight problems or their facial hair grows especially fast (and patchy), their eyes are "too close together." Whatever. It's a problem. Because while we're watching these guys who are phenomenal with kids, who can really connect with them in a useful and positive manner, the guys who are after our children are getting away with it because they appear normal. Obviously, there are both types, but to me the ones who appear to be squeaky clean are the ones who are the most dangerous, because they're the ones people refuse to believe can do terrible things.
I don't think judging people on circumstantial "evidence," particularly when it's based on appearance, is helpful in protecting children. The best thing we can do is be involved in our children's lives and have open and honest dialogue with them every day. Only in this way can we be vigilant about potentially inappropriate behavior, and if something does happen to our child, hopefully they will have a good enough relationship to entrust that information to their parents. And we need parenting classes to help parents have these conversations with their children and do the things that are necessary to foster these relationships.
It needs to start young. By the time they're old enough to have these conversations it's too late. When they get to be pre-teens, not only will they have the idea that adults don't always have their best interests in mind, they'll be getting messages from the media that YOU, the parents, have no idea what you're talking about and there's no possible way you can identify with them. While that certainly feels true to every pre-teen and teenager, it is possible to counteract that message and be involved.
And before you ask, I am not a parent, and I have no intentions of being a parent because I know that I cannot possibly be involved enough, even with a partner, to provide everything my child needs and accomplish what I want to in life. But I'm only 8 years out of teenagerdom, and I remember it more vividly than some of my college years. This is something we can't leave to instinct or stereotypes; we need good solid information, and the only source of that information is our kids. If that door gets closed, it makes it so much harder for either party to open it back up. I know because it was closed on me and by me for years and has only recently started to creak open. And I have endured far more pain and heartache than I needed to because of it.
Finished yesterday and mostly agreed with the previous review on Goodreads.
*He was 36 and she was about 19.