I added my name to the #MeToo legions in the recent social media round. I’ve had my share of hurtful experiences with men over the years, at school, in the workplace, on city streets…
As the mother of two young boys, I’ve recently been thinking about my parenting mission through an additional prism. Following the fall of Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein and so many others, I’m wondering how I’ll be able to raise boys who will be respectful, empathic, loving, and other-centered. It’s always been a goal, and now there’s an additional emphasis.
One of the most helpful analyses I’ve read recently on the topic was a 11/2/17 piece in The NY Times by David Brooks: “Lovers, Prospectors and Predators.” It’s well worth the time to read. He explores the trajectory of a man from a boy who is taught of love, of getting to know a person you care about, to a teen who is counting his prospects, who begins to see sex as something to get rather than share, with a small percentage continuing on to be on the prowl, where sex becomes mixed with power not pleasure, where sex is something you take.
One key problem Brooks highlights is that we’ve lost a “positive vision of how sexuality fits into a rich life, how it flourishes in the private sphere as a (very fun) form of deep knowing.” We can tell men what not to do, but we must also have a cultural discussion about what to do.
David Brooks article:
Our boys are too young to talk about dating in a practical way, although it’s not too much longer (yikes!). In the meantime, I frequently talk with them about being respectful and kind. I won’t let them watch an Adam Sandler movie unless they agree to sit with me after and give me examples of poor behavior of the men in the movie toward the women. I would like to find some books for them to read and movies to see that they would like that have examples of loving, mutually respectful relationships between young adults. Maybe someone has a suggestion?
Like so many of these important topics, the main thing is to keep the conversation going. I’ll just keep bringing it up and pointing out examples of positive behavior and examples of poor behavior as I come across them. It can feel awkward for a mother to talk specifics about sex and sexual treatment of others with her sons, but it’s imperative.
I don’t have all the answers, but I’ll keep on doing my best. I don’t want my boys to ever be the reason someone writes on her Facebook #MeToo.