Sunday, April 7, 2013

For Moms of Boys

The Indian rape victim. The Steubenville rape case . The list of violent acts toward women and girls goes on and on. As a woman, this sickens me. As a mother, it terrifies me.

I have taken RADS (Rape and Aggression Defense Systems) and kick boxing, and I think I could do some serious damage--if the odds were in my favor. When the kiddo is older, I will sign her up for similar self-defense classes (and continue to keep a mama bear eye on her), which is all very well and good, but...

After reading the article "What Makes a Rapist", I have come to the conclusion that we need to work harder to teach boys what is acceptable and what is not. According to Dr. Mary Koss, Professor of Public Health at the University of Arizona, and co-chair of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Male Violence, "It’s hard to convince men—rapists or not—that women have a right to be treated as equal human beings in relationships, when there’s such a huge power differential between men and women in America. We have few top elected officials who are women, few parental leave policies that allow fathers to participate equally in raising their children, and few areas in which women can earn as  much money as their male counterparts.” We can't do anything to change Indian society (but judging from the protests, they are trying to do that themselves!), but we can change our own society.

Women are demanding equal pay and are attaining more jobs comparable to men; I know several stay-at-home dads, and plenty of dads who are involved in their kids' lives and have no problems with their wives holding full-time jobs.This is fantastic, and  I believe that society is changing, but unfortunately, not fast enough. We can't snap our fingers and instantly improve the role of women in the workforce or create more opportunities for stay-at-home dads, much less change the attitudes men have toward women. What we can do, however, is start teaching boys at a young age that everyone deserves respect and that women don't exist for the gratification of men.

It sounds like an daunting task, doesn't it? But one act of violence against a girl or woman can snuff out so much potential, crush a spirit, and permanently alter a life. I don't have a boy, but I am teaching my kiddo how to stand up for herself, trying to show her that there is so much more out there for her than princesses and Barbie and slavish devotion to anything pink, and emphasizing that everyone is important and that nobody deserves to be treated badly. I can only do so much, though, and hope that moms of boys do their part, as well.

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