When Ryan Spelliscy read the now-infamous letter from Brock Turner's father lamenting his son going to jail over "20 minutes of action," he was disheartened. Spelliscy is the father of two young boys, 3 and 1, and he wants to have a different kind of conversation with his sons.
So Spelliscy and some of his dad-colleagues at advertising agency J. Walter Thompson decided to do something about it. Together, they formed the group #DadsWhoGiveADamn—with as straightforward a mission as ad dads can have. According to their website, 20 Minutes of Action 4 Change, they are "a group of dads with sons who give a damn: give a damn about women’s rights, and their right to say 'no.' It’s our mission to get more dads to sit down with their own sons and talk to them about sexual assault and consent and help put an end to rape culture."
The site was launched on Father's Day and not only encourages dads to talk to their sons about consent, it also offers talking points and resources for beginning the conversation.
Spelliscy told the Daily Dot there is an antiquated idea of "The Talk" fathers should have with their sons, "but The Talk has never really evolved." Today, Spelliscy argues that a sex talk should involve a discussion of boundaries, substance use, and the women's right to say "no."
"We always talk to our kids about 'my body, my choice,'" Spelliscy added, but we never tell them about, 'your body, your choice.'"
The conversation has to start young, Spelliscy notes. Parents are often given an outline about how to talk to girls about their body parts and their boundaries, but he says there are precious few resources for fathers (or mothers, or teachers, or any qualified authority figure, really) who want to talk to their sons about respecting and maintaining those boundaries. And this, argues Spelliscy, continues to put the onus on women when it comes to rape, not men.
The #DadsWhoGiveaDamn have great hopes for their site and hope to partner with a publisher to put out a children's book and work with other organizations to provide more support for dads to start these conversations about sex and consent.
"We need to do something different," Spelliscy added. "We need to question the script we've been given."