The following conversation took place in Tess the Mule (our second Astro) while we were waiting at the dealership:
"Hey, Little Dude...?"
"If I have a bucket of popcorn and you want some, but I won't give you any, is it okay to help yourself?"
"No-o." He says it like it's obvious.
"Okay...but what if you're really hungry and really want some popcorn?"
"No." Duh, mommy.
"What if I tell you I have a chocolate bar and I'm going to share it, but then I don't. Is it okay to take it from me?"
"No. It's your chocolate bar. You don't have to share it if you don't want to."
"How about if I have been telling you all day how I have this chocolate bar and we're going to share it, and now you really want some chocolate?"
"It's still not okay."
"What if I tell you I will share with you, but then I fall asleep? Is it cool to take it then?"
"Because it's yours, and you can't share it if you're asleep, it's just me taking it."
"How 'bout if I have a bucket of quarters and I tell people I'm going to share them later, but than I don't? Is it okay to take them from me?"
"No, that's stealing."
'Suppose I am very drunk and say I am going to let you have my quarters, but then I pass out"
"Still no, Mommy." He's impatient, now.
"And if you ask if I will share the quarters and I say no, but then pass out, is it okay to take them?"
"And if I am asleep and you ask me if you can eat 27 Kit Kat bars and I don't wake up and say 'no' does that mean 'Yes'?"
"No. You have to say 'yes' to mean 'yes', Mommy." Again, duh.
"What if I am asleep and someone else comes along and asks me if they can have my quarters and I don't say 'no' and they take them?"
"Then I would tell them not to, because you didn't say 'yes' and that's not okay, and they shouldn't take what isn't theirs, it's stealing."
I bet YOU, dear reader, understood where I was going with this.
"So the same is true for sex, buddy."
"Some day you'll be interested in sex. Really interested. And sex feels good. And when someone says they will have sex and then changes their mind, it can be frustrating. But...even if you really want to have sex, what does it mean if they say 'You know what? I changed my mind.' and they don't want to any more?"
"It means no sex."
"What if you hear someone telling others how much they want to have sex, but then they are passed out, and you see someone taking them away because they're going to go ahead without asking?"
"Um...that's wrong, because just because you don't say 'no' doesn't mean you are okay with it."
"What if you say you want to have sex but then change your mind? It is okay for you to say know after you said yes?"
"Well...of course it is."
So...we have never discussed rape. We've talked about sex a little, about the biological imperative and body parts and the biological reason for sex, but rape? Not yet. I have not said the word "rape" to him or discussed sexual assault, rape, statutory rape, incest, or any of the like in detail...just made sure he knows that it's not okay for anyone to mess with his private parts or to ask or make him mess with theirs.
He simply has the good sense to know that when someone says "no", they mean "no". Even when they said "yes" before. And when someone cannot say no, it isn't consent. Silence does not mean it's okay. Unless there is a clear statement of "yes" in the moment, then...well...no. And when you see someone acting like they were told "yes" when they were not, you step up and say something.
How is it my kid knows this when so many grown and semi-grown people seem to have no clue?