Let's talk about the way we address bullying and teasing. Let's talk about how we address it differently with our boys vs. our girls. Let's talk about how we can best serve our sweet babies. How we can best help them to become strong, independent, compassionate humans. It's time. Past time really.
My friend recently shared on FB that her daughter was teased at lunch. So much teasing that she cried and felt ashamed of her lunch choices.
Many well meaning people responded to the post. The responses fell into one of three camps:
1. Poor girl, I'm so sorry that happened.
2. Poor girl, I'll come over and scare the crap out of those boys. (really?!)
3. Poor girl, but probably the boys like her and they're teasing to get her attention. Boys will be boys. (nope-ity nope nope!)
We have a problem. We are either accepting the narrative of our boys as aggressors, or we are attacking them with our own adult aggression. They're children. Stop it! Really, stop it!
Our boys need to be shown as much compassion as our girls. We need to teach our boys how to relate, how to make friends in ways that don't involve aggression. When we meet boys with violence we're teaching violence. I don't believe any of those well meaning protectors of my friends child would actually hurt or even threaten another child, but that we even rely on those old fashioned and outdated tropes is misguided and dangerous.
I KNOW, boys are more physical, boys play in different ways than girls, I KNOW! I hear you. That doesn't mean they can't be kind humans as well. That doesn't mean that they don't understand what it means to be a good friend.
Come on, let us, communally, give them a little credit. And while doing that, let's teach them about emotional intelligence. The same way we teach our girls to search out the meaning in someone's body language, in their lowered eyes, in their softer voice, or their raised voice, let us teach our boys. We owe it to them.
Let us show them that it is not weak to be kind, it is not weak to reach out to someone less fortunate than you. It is not weak to show empathy for your classmate. Teach them that it is strong and brave to stand up to a bully, not by offering more violence or meanness, but by offering kindness to the one being bullied. That it is strong and brave to turn your back on the bully, that it is strong and brave to NOT BE THE BULLY!
Let us change the narrative for our boys.
Here's what we're teaching our girls when we suggest that we'll beat up their tormentors or that their tormentors like them and just don't know how to show it.
We're teaching them two things: 1. that they need a protector, or 2. that affection doesn't always feel good, but they should accept it, because, well, that's how boys are. Aren't you lucky he likes you?!
No! Gross! I reject these messages. I will teach my girls something different. I will teach them that they do not need a protector. They are in charge of what they will accept and not accept in the way of treatment from others. I will teach them that they have value. That they are strong and powerful young women. I will teach them that they can walk away whenever they damn well please.
"Fuck the haters", is what I will teach my girls.
Not in a mean and aggressive way,
but in a you do what you want, girl, kind of way.
In a way that says you own your body and you own your feelings.
In a way that says you are not defined by what someone else says about you.
In a way that says surround yourself with people who lift you up.
Be one who lifts others.
This is what you deserve, child.
We need your help.
#metoo has shown you the depth of this sickness. But this is not a women's problem. My voice is not the solution. This is a men's problem. And your voice is the solution. We are asking you to stand with us, to see us, and to believe us. But even more, we are asking you to speak up. We are asking you to become leaders in your communities of men. Around the poker table, at the gym, in your office, out hiking. Wherever it is that you spend your time.
I've seen a lot of lists for men. Lists of how you can support women. How you can be an "ally". They are good lists. But there is just one thing on my list.
1. Speak up.
I have no doubt that all of the men I know would step in if they witnessed physical or sexual violence. I know that you good men in my life would never tolerate violence in your sphere. I know.
But what I'm asking is more difficult. When you hear jokes about a woman's looks, or her weight - Speak up. When a man uses our gender as an insult to other men - Speak up. When it is implied that my worth is dependent on the size of my ass - Speak up. When a joke is made about the potential/impending hotness of my 10 year old girl - Speak up. Speak up. Speak!
Practice phrases like, "Hey, that's shitty," or "Dude, not funny." Say it in the mirror. Be ready.
I know that this is not an easy ask. You men have a lot of pressure to be a certain way. To fit in and be tough and "manly". I know that what I'm asking my alienate you from your community. It may alienate you from family members. I'm asking anyway. I'm asking you to break the paradigm that is holding women down. That is allowing for a culture where men's violence is tolerated. Understood to be part of the norm.
We are deserving of equal treatment merely because of the fact of our shared humanity, but while that is self-evident to me, it is not evident to all. So, remind those men that they have sisters, mothers, and daughters who all deserve to not be scared, embarrassed, and demeaned.
As we diminish our tolerance for the small aggressions and harassments, we will also begin the bigger paradigm shift. We will help men and boys begin to see women as whole humans, deserving of the same rights and the same treatment as men. As we make it socially unacceptable to demean a woman for the size of her breasts, we will also be teaching our boys that women and girls are not play toys, here for their amusement and sexual pleasure.
Please. Speak up.
I'm Molly. I'm all in for parenting. I'm all in for good food. All in for big and small outdoor adventures. And really only partly in for homemaking. I want a Martha Stewart home and meal, but the truth is, we mamas just can't do it all. Not really. This shit is tricky!
This is a collection of musings and missives about parenting like you mean it. I mean really mean it. About how you can pull off a really mostly decent meal, keep your house kinda clean, do some of your laundry, and also even remember to usually feed your pets. But mostly about how being a mama is hard and we can totally rock it, but maybe that dream of perfection has got to give a little.