As the mother of a son

I am not really sure of how to start this, or where it will lead, but lets see where it goes.

The feminist that has been deep within has surfaced over the last few months where I have felt the strong desires to just charge forth with that so called “Girl Power” vibe. As the mother of a son I have had to tame that beast a little; not because I think he is a going to grow up to be a man and that is his privilege and he should be treated like he owns the world, but because word on the street and the reality is, he doesn’t.

As a mother who is trying to raise a respectful young man who may be one of the last gentlemen I might ever know, it does hurt a bit that he will always be assumed to be a typical man who just takes what he wants; that is how many men are seen these days. The patriarchy hasn’t only done Women an injustice, but many men too. Men are often taught to believe that they need to protect women, that they need to look after their families; and this isn’t because they believe women can’t do that, I know in my household the lads know who the real boss of the house is, it is me; but because its what is expected of them by society. It’s pressure and sometimes a tugging in different directions because the expectations aren’t clear. Depends who you talk to! I quite like chivalry and don’t wish it to die!

But that is not what this is about. A girl recently broke my son’s heart. No one is immune to heart break. But it just got me thinking about how unfairly boys can be treated and it is seen to be deserving because they are just boys and they just move on, but they don’t. They have to put on a facade and pretend they do so that they are not judged by their peers for being “soft”. This is not the case with my son; no facade there, just raw, strong emotion which has been overwhelming; for us both.

I always hate the saying; “boys will be boys”, but I was told that “Girls are just silly”. As a woman who was once a teenage girl, I am no stranger to the sharp sting of a girls words; they cut deep, they are personal and they are soul destroying. To see what my son has had to endure the last few weeks, in tears after every visit. I have to remind him that consent applies to boys too and when he says no, she must understand it is no. And I am not talking about sex here, they aren’t there yet, but just general affection and physical contact. When he is too scared to say no for fear of upsetting her, that upsets me. As a survivor of sexual assault, I know what physical violation feels like, I know that fear of not wanting to upset anyone by saying no; maybe it’s inherited trauma, but this is not about me, this is about a boy who is not respected. When her parents see all the affection, they wouldn’t ever think its their daughter initiating, the boy is always told to get his hands off.

As a mother of a son, I am teaching him what consent means (as in when someone says no to his advancements), I teach him about body autonomy and not just his own, but he needs to respect other people autonomy too. I teach him how to treat a girl with kindness and respect, always. Can mothers and father’s of daughter’s please do the same?

How many parents teach their daughters that when boys say no, its no? I wasn’t taught that, and I am sure many haven’t taught their daughters that either. What is taught that we can say no to boys and they must respect it; which is awesome! But it should work both ways. I had never thought about that until now for some reason.

As the mother of a son, a mother who wants her son to be a good, kind gentleman, respectful and caring… knows this is going to change him. I hope its going to change him in terms of showing himself the respect to walk away and make sure he gets treated with the same kindness and respect that he shows.

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