Just as I was taking a couple weeks off to spend time with my family, I came across something that I wanted to share with you (and have a challenge to offer)!
Consent—what it means, how to give it, and most importantly, how to talk about it with our kids and teens—is a key focus of the work I do. I present on this subject to middle and high school parents, and feel so strongly that we could avoid many incidents of sexual assault, particularly at the high school and college level, if we as parents talked more openly and more often about what consent.
We should be talking about the legal standard, the gold standard, sexting, alcohol, pornography, and more impact our kids’ views of what is okay, normal, and healthy.
Are you having these conversations with your tweens and teens?
If you’re not, who is?
One of the easiest ways into these conversations is through various forms of media (songs, movies, books, articles, etc.). And this winter has given us the perfect opportunity to discuss.
Ever heard the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside?” On the surface, it’s a cute and catchy tune.
Look even a little bit deeper though, and it’s a little, well…rapey.
It’s all about a man trying to get a woman to do something she clearly doesn’t want to in which he spends a lot of effort convincing her to stay and admits to being opportunistic.
He tells her not to “hold out,” accuses her of “hurting his pride” in wanting to leave, and suggests he’s going to “move in closer” even without her permission.
At one point, she even has to ask, “say, what’s in this drink?” Roofies anyone?
There has been a lot of criticism of the song, and for good reason, particularly in the age of #metoo.
But here’s the fantastic news…John Legend and Kelly Clarkson have just come out with a modern, re-worked version of the song that is equally charming but sends a dramatically different message.
It has lines like:
“I ought to say ‘no, no, no sir’ (Then you really out to go, go, go)” “I’ve got to go away (but I can call you a ride)." “I simply should go (text me when you get home)” “What will my friends… think if I have one more drink (It’s your body and your choice).”
In short, it’s brilliant. And importantly, NOT rapey. It portrays a man that is respecting his partner’s wishes at every step of the way and making very sure he’s not doing something for which he has no consent and enthusiastic participation.
Not only do I recommend replacing the old version with this one in your home, I also ask: how can you use this to start—or further—the conversation about consent in your home?
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Listen to the original version of the song. Then read the lyrics with your tween/teen. What do they think about them? Did they like the song when they first heard it? Did reading the lyrics change their opinion of the song? What felt wrong or unhealthy about the story being told in the song?
Listen to the new John Legend version of the song. How has he changed the lyrics? How does that change the story and the tone of the interactions between the two characters? What do they notice about that? Do they like it? How does the male in the song work to make sure his partner is comfortable and respect her wishes?
Spend some time talking about the bigger issues here--what does consent mean? How can we all be more like John Legend and less like Dean Martin in our daily lives? How your child use the changes in the song to be more aware of their own behavior?
Whether you celebrate Christmas or some other holiday, this winter-themed song serves up the perfect means into this conversation. Go with the flow and listen to what your kids have to say about this, as you also share your own values.
So with that, I issue a little Savvy Parents Safe Kids challenge:
Have a conversation about consent using the two versions of the song over winter break. Email me the story at firstname.lastname@example.org about how you did it and how it went, and I will gift you ONE FREE MONTH inside The Heartful Parent Academy where you can access my entire 90-minute presentation, "Talking Consent with Teens!
Talk must be had and email must be received by Monday, January 11, 2021!
Wishing you and very happy holidays and a wonderful New Year!