I don’t know about you but the ‘Mollis’ audio of what I am convinced is rape, is still lingering in my mind. The reaction of the society I live in – yes us – is really troubling. So many people thought that the idea of a man pursuing his pleasure regardless of his partner’s feelings and blatant protests was funny. So many men and women were willing to celebrate this man and his violence.
Months ago I sat next to a former school mate at a dinner function. We didn’t talk for too long, but she is raising two boys and I asked her what it’s like. And she said what concerns her most is how to raise gentlemen. Society, and here I mean globally, does not celebrate gentlemen. Sensitivity, ease with affection and feelings are quickly beaten, belittled and ridiculed out of our boys. The words ‘sissy’, ‘baby’, ‘girl’, ‘soft’ and other synonyms let boys know that their behaviour is not manly. To be tough, to be strong, to express only anger and later desire for success and female bodies... these are the attributes that we celebrate in boys.
So how in this world do I raise a gentleman? How do I create a space where my son can express his feelings and be affectionate without fear of ridicule? I have a few ideas:
- Look at my own prejudices: I would like to think and even pretend that I stand outside of the society that branded Mollis a hero, but the truth is I grew up in it, and it must have rubbed off on me. Am I as accepting of the image of a crying little boy as I am of that of a girl?
- Admit that I am afraid for my son: I am scared of raising the class victim, the boy that others pick on. I do not want pain in his life… so will I concede to the laws of the jungle we call nursery school and teach him to dominate others? You might laugh but kindergarten is a jungle of sorts – the animals can fight, they have reason to (toys, space, attention and social standing), strong emotions and very little language.
- If I want to raise children, male and female, who are okay with being vulnerable and having others be vulnerable with them, then I have to model this for them. I have to be vulnerable.
- Ask how my son is feeling and accept his feelings.
- Remain affectionate so that I model successful and affectionate relationships for him.
- I will also have to teach him how to cope with standing out and being a little different. Just because I have decided that he can express himself does not mean that the world is waiting to see and accept that self-expression with open arms. He might also not want to stand out.