Just minutes before I started writing this blog, I watched this video of President Trump laughing at a female reporter. https://twitter.com/ava/status/1046811645115289602
Did you know that 1 in 5 college women have been sexually assaulted, but very few report, being afraid of blow back from their peers, their administration, and fear of being victimized for a second time. What the hell is going on with these young men? A researcher and alum from the Harvard graduate School of Education was on the Harvard Campus recently and relates this anecdote." I was walking on campus and a male Harvard student walks by and says to me: "Damn, you're a sexy bitch." And this is one of our "best and brightest." So, I guess this is the way young men say hello to women now.
Yes, we need colleges to set better policy about sexual harassment but that men feel permission to speak like this to women, starts wayyyyy before they step onto that college campus. Here is what I think.
- Read the article with your sons, and have them watch this video with Trump trying to humiliate a very accomplished reporter. Don't lecture, but ask them with no expression in your voice, "What do you think about this? Have you seen stuff like this going on in your school and with your friends? How hard it must be to stand up to guys doing this and acting this way. A lot of boys love their power, but this is what happens when power goes unchecked." You will probably get a lot of grunts and groans and denials. Keep bringing these kinds of stories and articles to read or watch with them, no matter the eye-rolling. The only way kids learn is through repetition. This is not a one and done kind of conversation. Think of how you taught your kids to say please and thank you!! You repeated these rules of politeness many times a day, for many years, until it become integrated in how they behaved with you and in the world.
- Now that kids are getting smartphones at earlier and earlier ages, (getting one at 8 years of age is no longer an exception) boys now have easy access to pornography at a very early age, way before they even have access or readiness for the actual experience with a real live girl of their own age. Research has shown that these early images and sexually provocative language can literally make brain connections. Just like learning a new language, this now becomes their language of sex, and communication with women.
- Now that kids can download apps where they can use extremely sexual language when texting each other, that disappears in 5 seconds, safe from parental supervision, sexting has become the norm for communication. As in "hey sexy bitch." Do this starting at age 8 or 10 or 12, it becomes your go-to language.
How surprising can it be then, for boys who have had the freedom to look at misogynistic porn and use misogynistic language talking to their "bitches," think this is how women like it! And by the way, adding fuel to the fire, these "bitches" think hearing that language from boys is no biggie,
This is where you come in. Your kids need you desperately to let them know this is not alright, and not safe. They need you to monitor what they are writing so when you see this kind of language, you can talk to them about it and let them know it is not OK. You might need to say to your teen; Hey how would you like it if I said to your mom, hey bitch you're f##kin hot, Or mom might say: "how would you feel if your dad talked to me that way." Don't mince words or language when you are talking to your teen. Say the words they are using, say them out loud, make them uncomfortable and embarrassed, how else will they hear how demeaning and ugly sexually explicit can sound when it is used as a "hello, what's up?
If you want your teen to go into life acting respectfully towards women or demanding respect if they are a woman, that takes work. It means saying no to apps that allow them to develop bad habits because no adult is giving then the other side of the story. It means disabling safari on their smartphones for young boys too young to understand and too impulsive and horny not to access porn without your knowledge.
I wanted to thank everyone for sharing this blog. I can't tell you how many messages I received from parents thanking me for giving them a roadmap into how to talk to their kids about the troubling times we are living in. There is nothing that makes me happier than knowing that I can give tools to parents struggling with these uncomfortable and challenging topics. Again I ask that you share if you feel that your friends could use some help and strategies in teaching their boys to become compassionate men. It will benefit all of us in the end!