Something's wrong with the way we raise sons

Something's wrong with the way we raise sons

Food for thought on the way we might be raising our sons -- that they become misogynistic, thinking that women are beneath them or even that rape victims deserve it because it probably was their fault. Or is social conditioning to be blamed? Read this provocative article that will make us think twice about what we expose our children to--if we can help it.

Here’s a thought-provoking piece from Daphne Ong’s Facebookpage. She is a actor, writer and editor:

Guys, give me (more) hope

Kids these days

Kids these days

I used to be ‘one of the guys’. After emerging from 11 years in an all-girls school, I found myself more comfortable in the company of male friends in JC and in university. While I maintained close friendships with female pals, I found the dynamics of a group of guys more suited to my taste.

And it was then that I found out what comes out of guys’ mouths when they start to forget they have a female in their midst. The gossip becomes vicious and prolific, and the misogyny flies off the charts.

On a particularly unlikeable girl: “She deserves to be raped lah.”

Gossiping about a girl who had dated several guys from the same hostel: “What kind of sl*t is that?”

On the uptight administrative auntie we had to deal with: “She just needs to get fuc***.”

The best gems were actually from a boyfriend I was dating in my final year:

On taking a smoke break with a guy friend during the exam study period: “I’m so stressed, I’ll rape ANY girl who walks by right now!” (whereupon the resident butch walks by and greets them).

The guys start making small jokes about sex. Then it moves on to rape. Then it quickly becomes them guffawing over a list of steps to commit rape, right down to what type of van they’ll use to kidnap the girl and who will drive the van.

Sometimes I laughed with them, sometimes I kept quiet, uncomfortable but not mature enough to know why. But by the time that last one about kidnap-rape came out, the guys eventually noticed the seething glare from my side, and they fell into a guilty silence. Later, as we were all departing, one guy tried to placate me: “We were only joking.”

I even tried the “What if  your sister or mother had been raped before?” line of reasoning. You know what else I found out? Empathy isn’t always their dominant trait.

Most guys will not break the brotherhood code of silence or even realise anything wrong with what they said, and they will not tell others that this kind of talk took place. Imagine how much of this kind of misogyny is proliferated in casual conversations every day, and no one notices.

These were guys I liked and enjoyed the company of. They were funny, smart, kind to friends. It boggled me how guys like that who would do anything for a friend, who loved their girlfriends, with whom I’d shared countless nights of supper and talk, could speak of women as if they were meat packages placed on earth for men to fu**, unload on, disrespect, discount, pigeonhole, brutalise, blame.

I couldn’t say it was because they were bast***s, in spite of one of those guys telling me that “all guys are bas***ds”, because they weren’t for the most part. I couldn’t say it was because they came from homes with mothers with severe mental illness who were violent and caused them to grow up hating women, because they didn’t. I couldn’t say they were stupid, because they obviously weren’t. I couldn’t even blame it on ‘dirty minds’, because I have one too.

(Say what you will about female complicity in misogyny and sexism. Even a woman who will call another a “sl*t” won’t say that she deserves to be raped and beaten simply because she is unlikeable.)

There’s something wrong with the way we’re bringing up our boys. I don’t believe it’s their mothers who bring up their sons to view women as objects. I believe it’s the way society is bringing them up, and it’s the result of thousands of years of civil evolution and the ways that the valuable reproductive imperative has been viewed and handled. It’s so ingrained that many men who do not consider themselves sexist will still think and speak like one on occasion.

It’s such a part of us that when a young woman is bring groped in full sight of a hundred people and a video of her resisting her violators goes viral, the community is torn between those who cry foul and those who insist she asked for it. And I find myself living in a country where law enforcement places ads on buses that tell loan sharks to quit it, that tell gamblers to seek help, and tell women to not be groped –> sure we can, if we’re psychic.

I do not believe all men are dumb, di*k-driven creatures who can never resist the female body. I do not believe all men actually believe women should be raped, even those that say it sometimes. That has not been my experience with them. Plus if it were true that scantily clad women are asking to be raped, we’d have one hell of a problem at swimming pools and beaches.

Misogynistic words are symptomatic of social conditioning that tells men that women are beneath them, that to have any feminine traits is a bad thing – often, the worst insult one can hurl at a man is to tell him he’s a sissy, a pussy, “like a woman”. It is a fragilisation of men’s virility, and a rejection of women’s. Which is really stupid, because most men I know would be absolutely delighted to know his partner is virile and horny, so why are people so appalled and call women names when they gawk at the humongous bare male body hanging above A&F, but don’t even blink when bikini-clad girls splay themselves over boats and cars?

It is all the men out there who recognise their responsibility for their own choices, who recognise that victim-blaming is wrong in any crime, who show themselves to be intelligent and empathetic, who speak up against the injustice, who recognise that gender equality benefits both genders, who march alongside women to protest violence against women, who love their female family and friends too much to debase them with misogynistic language, who are secure enough in their manhood to not feel affronted when others associate them with ‘female’ traits, that give me hope.

I want more men and boys to give me more hope in the future.

Here are other articles that you might like:

Dad sells kids to pay off debts

Discipline vs. punishment: what’s the difference?

A child’s perspective on discipline

 

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