I read a quote from a celebrity (cannot remember who) saying something on the lines of, “My daughters will never date, I know what boys think.”
Recently, a father was hailed on Facebook for a T-shirt that said:
RULES FOR DATING MY DAUGHTER
1. I DON’T MAKE THE RULES
2. YOU DON’T MAKE THE RULES
3. SHE MAKES THE RULES
4. HER BODY, HER RULES
There seems to be a general consensus that my sons are going to grow up to be teenagers who are going to manipulate girls into having sex with them or drug them into having sex with them or do whatever is needed to try to have sex with them. They will not respect “her” wishes and just bulldoze through her insecurities because once they hit puberty, I mean it’s pretty much a runaway train.
This, I feel, goes the same path as the myth that men want sex and women want to cuddle. Fuck that, we want sex just as much as the next man. And I was a teenage girl once, so I do know the truth. No one ever told me that I was going to turn into a sex-crazed nutcase when I became a teenager – but society is telling this to my sons. Yes, the statistics are there – most rapists are men – but should we brand the entire male gender as rapists? And is that really the lesson we want to give the future generation? Hey, you know you could be a rapist so let’s get the basics right, right away – there will be no rape. It’s like telling children that they’re all going to turn into serial killers and they need to pay attention now before it’s too late.
Let’s flip this. Let’s teach children to respect each other, regardless of gender. Gender bias is not just a one-way stream where women are getting brutalized every day – it’s also going the other way, leaving more than one man baffled that he’s supposed to be a “man” and what the heck does that mean anyway?
I have heard this from parents who will talk about their son in terms that seem perfectly normal in the society we live in. “He’s a sissy at times. He needs to grow a pair.” In effect, he needs to be a “man.”
If I told a strong woman, “You flat-chested bitch, grow a pair” I don’t think that would work.
I’m teaching my boys to treat girls like they would treat boys. I’m also teaching them that fart jokes don’t work with me (in all honesty they work with no one but I don’t want to judge a teenager’s sense of humor) and that if I’m carrying a heavy bag you can offer me help; you can hold the door and you can be polite.
I’m teaching them that girls are different from boys – but the same and equal.
I’m teaching them that they are free to make their life choices and that career isn’t the be all and end all of life.
I’m teaching them that they should find jobs and professions that make them happy.
I’m teaching them that they should be with a partner (man or woman) who is their equal and treat them as such.
I’m teaching them to pay attention to bullying and if they see a situation to do something about it – solve it or tell an adult.
I’m teaching them to be conscious of racism and take it to task the first instance they see it – if someone cracks a racist joke, you voice you dissent then and there.
I’m teaching them to be aware of gender bias and not accept it.
I’m teaching them that sex can be complicated even if it shouldn’t be because we live within a society that has made it complicated so they should pay attention to its complexities. And sometimes sex is just sex and eventually they’ll figure out what the big deal and what the small deal about sex is.
I’m not telling them that they will want to have sex oh so much more than girls – because that’s bullshit. I’m not telling them that they should not coerce girls into having sex because that pre-supposes that they will coerce a girl to have sex with them and they haven’t even coerced a friend into playing Minecraft if he or she didn’t want to.
I’m teaching my sons to be good people – who care, have empathy and hold the door. So stop telling them that they’re going to turn into sexual deviants. Stop telling them that you don’t want your daughters to date because my supposedly-sexual predator son is on the other side of the door with nothing on his mind except sex with your daughter, whether she wants it or not.
So here are my non-rules for dating my son:
It’s none of my business who my son dates.
My job is to raise him well and ensure he’ll respect everyone, including girls/women.
I hope he’ll find strong, intelligent, inspiring and articulate partners.