To Protect Our Sons, We Must Destroy Their Innocence: Raising Sons in a Rape Culture World

To Protect Our Sons, We Must Destroy Their Innocence: Raising Sons in a Rape Culture World

I am so sorry, my sons. I wish there were another way.

But it is our responsibility. I have convinced myself if we are to do our job right -- if we are to protect our sons -- we must destroy their innocence.

Sons, yes, love is wonderful BUT you are not allowed to love. Not wholly. Not without restraint. You must check your feelings at the door because every action you make as a male will be held against you. You are guilty until proven innocent, and are always on probation. It’s not your fault. Your purest intentions, your deepest respect for others, will simply not be enough.

We’ve tried our best to prepare you. We’ve raised you to believe in the ideas of equality and fairness but this world we are giving you is broken and chaotic. In all these years, this country still doesn’t grasp the concept of real equality. We debate human rights like we get to choose who has them. We confuse our youth by empowering them to embrace their sexuality and then we shame them for it. We reward violence. We fail to protect our most vulnerable. And you, my son, have to survive in that world knowing the truth. We do not have the luxury of waiting for you to learn about life one day, one experience at a time. There is no Santa Claus. You can never touch a rainbow. Wishes don’t come true. You are male. You have to pay for the sins of those who came before. You may not be the enemy but you look like him and so you will be treated like him until things change.

This is how parenting a son can feel some days. It’s profoundly unfair. I love my sons. I love being a mother to sons. They give me hope. They deserve so much better than what this world offers young men. They are each strong and compassionate people who will in some way change the world where they are for the better.

They are NOT the enemy.

Go, sons. Embrace life. Embrace love. Do the right thing. Be a force of change so your sons and your daughters will never know there was ever an enemy.


K.M. (Kelly) O’Sullivan is a writer, blogger, and unapologetic feminist mother living in the Midwest with her husband, their three boys, and the cats. Kelly writes about parenting, politics, feminism, body image, and more. Read more from Kelly at and connect with her on Facebook ( and on Twitter (

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