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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

My Body Belongs to Me!


Amazon Prime Day is a beautiful thing. I didn't intend to buy anything more than what we absolutely needed, but when I saw this My Body Belongs to Me! by profamilia and illustrated by Dagmar Geisler, I knew we absolutely needed it.

Clara is a young girl who understands that from being a baby to being a small girl, her body has changed and she is becoming different as she grows. She also knows that sometimes it's nice to touch other people, like sitting close to a friend, hugging her family, and sitting on her grandmother's lap. But Clara most importantly knows that she is the only one who gets to decide who touches her and when they do. She has the right to tell others to not touch her, and to decline when others offer and she does not want it, even if it is someone she knows well, like her parents. And if she tells someone no and they don't listen, she can always go get an adult she trusts, because she gets to choose when and how someone touches her.

One thing that is very important to us in our household is that our child does not have to touch anyone he doesn't want to. I ask him to give high fives, hugs, or kisses to people we know and love, and sometimes he just doesn't want to. It's not a problem; in fact, quite the opposite. Sometimes he doesn't feel like it, even at 16 months old. It's his right, and we want to encourage bodily autonomy with him. I ordered this book for exactly that reason; I wanted a resource that we could read to him that says this very thing.

Over 90% of children who experience sexual abuse and assault know their victimizer. All of this brouhaha over the last few years about transgender men and women using the bathroom of their choice because it puts kids in danger is a bullshit, and not just because of the primary reason that we should respect people's choices with their own bodily autonomy (and, frankly, if you are going to look over my stall to see my genitalia, I am absolutely going to call the cops and report you for sexually inappropriate behavior). The statistic at the start of this paragraph should alarm you, because it's NOT a stranger in the parking lot, but someone your child -- and YOU -- knows. It's someone you might very well trust.

Sex education begins young. It begins when babies are teeny tiny. It's a constant education, not just a single sex talk. It starts with making sure that children know that their bodies belong to them, and they have a right to say no and to be listened to when they say it. I love this book, and the culture of consent that it reinforces.

There is an introduction from the International Center for Assault Prevention recommending this book and providing information as to how to use it with your children to discuss bodily boundaries. There is also a list of resources at the end for parents if they need them. I would also like to point you to RAINN, another great resource if you are in need of help or other resources.

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