Monday, November 23, 2015

Taking Responsibility for How We Raise our Boys (and Girls).

Awhile back while scrolling through my Facebook I found a link to an article written by a mother who declared she refused to call herself a feminist for the sake of her son. At the time, I was questioning my own identification with feminism, simply because I was having a hard time finding my place or my voice with certain supposedly 'feminist' individuals on campus. I was searching for validation to either claim the name, or just claim something else altogether. Even then, in all my anger and frustration, I knew this article had gotten something wrong, it was completely missing the point.

The module on violent masculinity, specifically Sandy White Watson's paper: Boys, Masculinity and School Violence: Reaping What We Sow, brought this experience and this article back up in my mind. Upon reading it again it suddenly clicked to me what was so wrong about it, and what so many people get wrong and as a result give up on feminism. Many of the points in the article focus on the fact that they want their boys to grow up to treat women right and be nice, and smile and be 'gentlemen'. What the article misses is that they can still do that, by all means please lets teach our children to be kind to one another, but the key word here is respect. Our sons shouldn't put their own desires to be 'nice' and pose their opinions, even if they are positive, on a young girl if she doesn't want it, and that should be respected. There is an underlying notion in the article that completely erases the realities of what its like to be a girl, and completely undermines the issues that we are very much fighting for.

In a specific part of the article the author complains that her son shouldn't be branded a potential rapist simply because he has a penis. I don't even know where to begin with how problematic this is. In this particular instance I recall how Watson discusses that it is our duty as parents to make a change in how we raise our children, but how hard it can be. This is a perfect example. It's not about ones specific son being attacked, its about recognizing the truth of the society we live in and educating our children on how to be prepared and change this climate. It's this exact defensiveness that leaves no room for conversation of change, which is truly sad. Our children can grow up to be the kindest, non threatening individuals, but as they say for bystanders in cases of victimization, if you're not helping the victim, you're ultimately helping the perpetrator.

While I do offer some slack to the author, as it's completely normal to feel this way especially regarding someone you love deeply, my sympathy wears off quite a bit when she continues to actually bash on women and young girls subtly, but enough to notice, throughout the article.

Check out the article here

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