Friday, May 27, 2016

To the Fathers of my Son's Future Partners...Don't threaten my boys

My oldest is ten years old now, so this is creeping up on me. He told me a while back he had a crush on a girl and while I did all my squealing and my son promptly left the room, I started to think about romance when you're young. I remembered the delirious highs and the soul crushing lows and started to worry about his little heart being broken and I get it, I get the instinct to protect one's young from harm. Believe me, I'm a Mamabear and proud of it, but there are some harms he is going to have to face that I cannot protect him from.
Your fear as a father protecting your young goes beyond a broken heart, I get that too. Totally. I am all over the rape culture society has and the dangers for women, particularly in intimate relationship. I have a diploma to prove it. I fear for the young women I work with when they talk about stupid things their partners say or feel entitled to. I want to somehow magically transplant at least some of the wisdom and entitlement I have as a woman to be safe in an intimate relationship. But as a worker, I can only do much and I try very hard to make sure that even from my position, they have the knowledge to be safe.
Pretty shitty world we live in when we feel like we have to do that to keep our girls safe. I won't deny the nature of society and that it leads to a belief that men are entitled to women's bodies. However I don't believe all men are stupid enough to think this way. Are teenage boys flowing with hormones? Most likely in most cases. Does this lead towards sexual activity? It can, because girls and women have hormones too. Does this lead to girls and women being raped? No.
Sexual activity and rape are two different things. Lets get rape out of the way. My boys are not being raised to think that "boys will be boys" is okay. They are not being raised to think that the best way to get a girl's attention is to be mean to her or call her names, or pull her bra straps. They are not being raised where it is acceptable to resort to physical violence.They are not being raised where it is acceptable to ridicule or berate or make someone feel unsafe mentally or emotionally. They are not being raised where they will not being accountable for their actions. All of this starts at home, in a loving environment where everyone is respected, even children. Does this mean they are undisciplined? Oh god no, I'm a pretty strict parent when it comes to behaviour expectations, and it shows. But I'm also a loving mom who basically believes in the golden rule. I'm happy to report so far, other than incessant squabbling between them, it seems to be working.
Oh, in case it wasn't clear, I'm a feminist too. If you're rolling your eyes, I'm confused because who better to raise respectful men, and don't you want that for your daughter?
So let me tell you something, if I caught any of my boys acting like a misogynistic, entitled brats, the wrath of Mom is almost as scary as the wrath of Mamabear. So with that being said, don't threaten my boys if they are dating your daughter. Seriously, don't. My boys aren't going to rape your daughter, and you are fully encouraged to respectfully interrogate them (I'll be doing the same, don't worry), through that you will (hopefully) understand that they aren't going to bring that kind of harm to your daughter.
Will they break her heart? Maybe, maybe she will break their hearts. I will be working tirelessly to make sure that while relationships may not work out, they still need to be respectful and compassionate. Essentially, I'm trying to teach my boys not to cheat or be mean when ending a relationship. I truly hope you are doing the same thing.
Will they have sex...I know, you're shuddering, so am I, believe me, they're my babies. But I'm also realistic and that is a possibility. As such, I will be teaching them the importance of doing so in a respectful, compassionate and most important consensual manner.
If you are inclined to threaten my boys because of this, I've got news for you, you do not own your daughter's body and that is exactly the kind of attitude that feeds into rape culture. So as a woman, as a counsellor for abused women, as a child and youth worker, stop, and challenge your own thinking about that. You are no more entitled to have say what she does with her body than anybody else. As a Mamabear, just don't, because you are crossing a line that you would not be okay with if I threatened harm on your daughter, so you show the same amount of respect and we should get on fine. Don't assume the worst right off the bat and start what could be a positive relationship with the threat of violence.
Dear fathers, I truly, deeply understand the urge to protect your young. You have invested a lot of time instilling values, raising them well, loving them and hopefully passing on some wisdom, I've done the same. You will be able to tell this by sitting down with my kids for 15 minutes and talking to them. So what I ask is that you respect my kid, respect your kid, respect that you've done your job and respect that I'm doing my job and we should all get on fine.

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