Tuesday, 24 July 2018

“Have a great day boys and remember: don’t rape any women!”

On the weekend my ten-year old son and I were walking down the street and I noticed him glaring and looking back at a man who’d walked past us.

What’s up mate?”
“That guy was PERVING AT YOU.”

He said it really loudly so the guy would hear him. Mr Perver was about 50 years old so basically what we have here is a young child calling a much older male out on his behaviour. I’m so proud of my son .. proud of ALL of my sons because here’s the thing: through all this public discourse about men’s violence towards women, a lot of the time the conversation ends with “.. we need to teach our sons not to rape.”

Ok so .. how do we do that? 

I can only go on the way I’ve brought my sons up .. I’ve called bullshit on everything since day dot. A tv ad comes on with a woman sexily biting into an ice cream cone and I’ve pointed it out. “Hey guys see her pout and skimpy clothes .. the whole ad is designed for the woman to act all ridiculously sexual to get you to buy the ice cream.”

Whenever any inappropriate magazines featuring women wearing lingerie or a bikini on the cover: straight to the recycling bin.

Somebody gave my then-eight year old son a pack of cards featuring topless females: in the BIN. (Seriously!?)

I’m outspoken and cranky about a lot of things in the world, which means my sons have grown up with me giving a running commentary on anything. I’ve told all of them that one day they’ll be at parties and if there’s drunk girls there .. to be the guy who makes sure the girls get home safely. That other guys might want to take advantage of the girls in that state. All of my sons nodding furiously. “Of course, mum!”

There’s only a limited time when our children are growing up to impart our knowledge and wisdom into them. I’ve used every available opportunity I can to teach my boys to have respect for women. Told them (and showed them) that women are STRONG. We’re not less-than. We’re not the weaker sex. As they’ve gotten older and started dating it’s been heartening when they’ve told me about a new girlfriend because they’ve often said: “Actually, she’s a lot like you!” (Silent fistpump.)

In no way am I anti-male .. how could I be? All of my sons are sensitive, empathetic, caring, funny and bright young men. The reasons behind my brothers suicide taught me that the patriarchy damages men, too. There’s a LOT of expectations for males - to be the provider, don’t admit weakness, earn money, be a MAN. 

I was taking about this to my 16 year old son yesterday, his views and opinions were such a welcome relief. He thinks the current state of music has a lot to answer for. A lot of it is all “Get bitches make money.” .. with video clips to match. The vacuous and empty lyrics of hip-hop nowadays makes me despair .. it’s supposed to mean something! I believe if you’re an artist of any kind and you have a fan base or following or platform .. you have to use it wisely.

Lately I’ve been despondent and scared at the relentless violence, murders and rapes of women. Is it getting worse? It seems to be everywhere .. and anywhere. I just don’t know.

What I do know is that on the weekend a young boy defended his mums honour as she was being leered at while walking down the street. *That* makes me so, so proud. It gives me hope for our future. 

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Write to be understood, speak to be heard. - Lawrence Powell

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