Monday, July 10, 2006

Beautiful Boy

My friend has an 11 month old baby boy. When she was pregnant someone she knew was raped and we talked about the not-yet-child inside her. She didn't know whether the Frog was going to be a boy or a girl and we didn't know whether it was worse to raise a girl and be afraid that when she grew up she'd be raped, or a boy and be afriad that when he grew up he might rape someone.

Well he is a boy, and I still think about that conversation. I still want to protect him from what I'm afraid he'll grow up to be. Right now he's amazing and beautiful. He bangs on everything and anything. He snuggles into you for comfort. He made me read A Very Hungry Catepillar 3 and half times in a row once. He's a crazy, loving baby.

I'm so scared of what this world will turn him into. That's one of the things that the US soldeirs who have raped Iraqi women makes me think about. How our world in general, and the army more than anything, makes men into monsters.

At the moment we can protect him from all that. I can sing him songs of hopes and struggle and there ain't nothing can harm him. But that only works so long.

33 comments:

  1. I have two sons and a daughter and I think about this alot. I've really been struggling lately with "are men good or bad?", "Are they in control of their sexuality, or the victims of it?" (with regards to porn, infidelity), "Do I need to be *very* worried about molestation? More from men, or women, or equally?", "How do I get over my distrust of his (my sons') sexuality so I can teach him to be comfortable and respectful?"


    Meira
    voirdire.org/subculture

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  2. Don't worry. Just care for him as you're doing. You will keep letting him know how much he's loved. You will teach him how it is wonderful to love and to feel and it is all right to feel his other emotions. When he's angry, you will let him be angry and teach him how to express his anger. You will teach him to own and not be aftraid of his feelings. You will teach him integrity and self-respect and what it means to respect rather than control. He is going to be all right.

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  3. What Idyllopus said. I know I"m speaking from the idealistic perspective of someone who doesn't have kids, but I sincerely feel that if we raise boys right, they won't grow up to be rapists.

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  4. Congratulations to your friend on their new child.

    BUT:

    "or a boy and be afriad that when he grew up he might rape someone."

    Are you serious? I mean honestly, who has a newborn child that they fear will rape someone? Look after your child, teach it well, instill some good morals in them and I very much doubt that they will go around raping and pillaging.

    That is unless you prefer to live in a permanant state of fear and contempt of males.

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  5. a very legitimate concern...without resistance and interruption of malestream culture, it's not only possible, but likely that a young boy will have attitudes that may lead to date rape. One study says that over half of boys aged 9-12 think that it's okay to force sexual activity if he has "spent a lot of money on a girl."

    A lot of money, btw, i believe was defined as 15$. This isn't about barbarism, mike...the far greater danger is that a young man be responsible for an act of aquiantance rape.

    But the antidote is not impossible. teaching the value of bodily integrity, respect, and raising awareness of the function of gender in society gives this kid a fighting chance to be freed from that kind of thinking. He's lucky to have people like you in his life.

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  6. blech. i meant to actually link, instead of throwing out random statistics. It's an AMA study, found here: http://www.ama-assn.org/ama1/pub/upload/mm/386/sexualassault.pdf

    And frighteningly, the 51% majority i was referring to is for both boys and girls age 11-14. The rest of the findings are an interesting read, starting on page 22.

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  7. I'm (nearly) sure he won't grow up as a rapist. Most men don't.

    I know arguing from personal experience doesn't really carry much weight and I'm not trying to win an argument here. I'm just offering this as an observation. I really don't see a potential rapist in the majority of men I see everyday.

    I went to a birthday party for friends 3 year old daughter a few weeks ago. Most of the kids had two parents with them. I was pretty much the only mother there who wasn't pregnant or with a nearly new born baby as well as a 2-3 year old and, for some reason, I watched the fathers. And what I saw was sweet. They were so protective of their partners, while actively getting involved with the kids, and also friendly and welcoming towards me and my partner who hadn't met many of them before. One of them was particularly kind and sensitive towards my daughter who is shy with people she doesn't know, helping her to join in without making her panic.

    I know there are men who are rapists and bad fathers and abusive partner. And it is right to be aware of them and to fight against the norms etc that cause them. But sometimes it is good to turn your eyes away from that and recognise there are a huge number of good men in the world who are doing the best they can. And there is much to love and cherish about masculinity when it is not misdirected. And I also think, particularly, if you are a heterosexual women or the mother of a boy your life will really be easier and saner if you recognise this.

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  8. It's so sad that for so many women (and probably also for some men) we so often find ourselves looking askance at males in our lives and wondering.

    I don't know about other women but I fervently hope that I've weeded out most of the possibly unsafe men in my life (of course you can't necessarily do anything about family), but sometimes you never know.

    Several years back there was a male friend who I never imagined could harm me, but then there was a weird night where he was incredibly threatening in a carpark, when it was just the two of us. Luckily I was inside my car, with the doors locked, and he was not. I'm sure his mum would never have thought him capable of this behaviour, when she could carry him around in her arms.

    Since that I've found it hard to fight my distrust - it seems to be a necessary part of survival.

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  9. I do understand the point that most men are not rapists... but just stop for a minute and think about all the women you know who've been raped. It's incredibly, astonishingly common. That means there are a lot of rapists out there. This concerns me to the point that I really hope I'll only have female children, because I feel a little more confident in my ability to instill good feminist morals into a girl child. Of course, I'd try to instill those morals into a boy, but in our patriarchal, porn-saturated society, that'll be really, really difficult -- even if Mother says one thing, the rest of society screams another (that female flesh is there for the male gaze, perpetually available for male pleasure, etc etc etc).

    As a less hideous example, think about how common porn usage is among boys. It would break my heart if any son of mine used porn, but it's probably virtually inevitable that most teenaged boys will use it at some point, if only just to find out what it's like. The thing is that a lot of kids simply don't know how to act when they're discovering their sexuality -- my own toes curl with embarassment when I think about some of my early experimentation. It's horrifyingly easy for some young guy, who's had a few drinks and doesn't really know what he's doing, to get carried away and touch a young woman sexually without her consent. that kind of thing is pretty hard to resist, especially for someone who's sexually inexperienced and curious. I just wonder what's the best way to send a firm message to sons not to give in to the urge -- even if they were practically sure they'd get away with it. (which, let's face it, most rapists are, when you consider how many reported rapes result in convictions.)

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  10. Problematically, there's much less a parent can do to protect their child from being raped than they can prevent their child from raping, simply because whether or not you're a victim of rape is more up to chance than good management.

    All you can do in either case is to teach your children to be respectful of other people's boundaries and to be strong about their own.

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  11. > we didn't know whether it was worse to raise a girl and be afraid that when she grew up she'd be raped, or a boy and be afraid that when he grew up he might rape someone.

    You are such pessimists!!

    > How our world in general, and the army more than anything, makes men into monsters.

    Nope its the testosterone. that an a couple of other chemicals.
    Besides that it depends a little on how you bring him up - must mostly the chemicals - thats why men rape more than women.

    Sofiya,

    > That means there are a lot of rapists out there.

    Only if you assume that each male only rapes once (in which case men are rally strange creatures!). More likely is that there ae men who push themselves on hundreds of women (in a date rape sense). I.e some men can't control themselves and others can.

    > It would break my heart if any son of mine used porn

    I'm inclined to sugest that would increase the chance of raping. Ie that while rapists are likely to view porn, viewing porn (because they were more sexually oriented) would be likely to reduce their danger (it drains sex of its specialness and it needs to be special to justify going to the effort of rape). Some might call it the "sad porn nerd" effect!

    > I just wonder what's the best way to send a firm message to sons not to give in to the urge

    I'd say outside of choosing a good father the next most importnat thing is the sort of friends he has.
    For starters I suggest ugly un-cool friends are good - it might mean he will be much older before he starts dating.

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  12. What, so ugly uncool people aren't allowed to fuck? Huh, that put me in my place :)

    I disagree about the porn issue. My personal feeling about porn is that it's a form of rape and violence perpetrated against women as a class. But then, I'm pretty much on the extreme end of the anti-porn spectrum... I accept that porn use is so common, and school-directed sex education so inadequate, that it's very likely teenagers, esp. boys, will turn to porn out of curiosity. But god help my future son if I ever find out he's been using it. I'll summon the ghost of Andrea Dworkin to yell at him until he promises on pain of death never to do it again. I just hate porn so much. I know for a fact that the guy who raped me when I was 19 was copying stuff he'd seen in porn. Since then I've hated porn with the fire of a thousand suns, because regardless of what people say about it taking the mystery out of sex, I think it teaches men how to be crap lovers, if not rapists. There's no love and intimacy in porn, and that's part of why it's so gross. I hope I'll be able to give my kids healthy, sensible, informative sex education that will discourage them from feeling entitled to objectify other people's bodies. I really, really hope so.

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  13. Boys get raped too. I'm astounded and shocked that this isn't even acknowledged - the penis doesn't prevent a stronger male overpowering. It is likely to lead to perverted outcomes if males are assumed to be the aggressors, but then who here has been a boy with a group of older girls deciding he would be who they would "experiment" with, whether or not he wanted to? Nobody believes boys when they are sexually abused, especially by others around their own age.

    If children are raised to first and foremost believe they have control over their bodies and they have no right to control anyone else's, then it gets you there. It isn't just about rape, it is about all forms of violence. Male violence against other males is just as bad and crippling for the victim, his penis doesn't put up much resistance against another penis, or a fist or a foot.

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  14. Sofiya,

    > What, so ugly uncool people aren't allowed to fuck? Huh, that put me in my place :)

    Sorry Sofiya I thought I was just talking about myself ;)

    > My personal feeling about porn is that it's a form of rape and violence perpetrated against women as a class.

    maybe it is in a sense - but it may still be the lesser of two evils. (for a testosterone charged man)

    > I know for a fact that the guy who raped me when I was 19 was copying stuff he'd seen in porn.

    Yes I expect he was. I might be being stereotypical but I imagine a rapist is a bit of a "sex addict" who has such an urge to have sex that it overcomes the normal things that stop rape in most people (including fear of punishment). On a day to day basis he might use porn and masturbation to reduce his stress.

    Then again it might work the other way - I guess that is something for experiments to prove.

    > I think it teaches men how to be crap lovers, if not rapists.

    Prior to porn were men better lovers? I hear anecdotal stories that they probably were not - but I can see a pretty good argument that masturbation would make sex quicker (no point being slow if it is only you - and you then get in a habit).

    However sex books and sexual empowerment of women might make it longer... Would again be interesting to see evidence.

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  15. I wondered how long it was going to be before a men's rights troll started griping that men get raped by women. Yeah, yeah, feminists condemn any kind of sexual assault and abuse, but it's pretty wilfully obtuse to ignore the fact that women comprise the overwhelming majority of rape survivors, and that rape is one of the weapons patriarchy has used since the beginning of time to oppress women. Gack.

    Gotta disagree with you about what causes rape, Genius. I don't think it's sex addiction. I've known a few sex addicts, and I'm fairly confident they don't go out raping anyone. I think rape is a hate crime perpetrated by men who have no respect for women. Where do they learn to hate and disrespect women? Well, from pretty much anywhere in patriarchal society, but I believe porn is an ultra-concentrated form of patriarchal misogyny that epitomizes what is wrong with patriarchy.

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  16. I'm surprised that power hasn't come up in this thread yet, although sofiya touches on it in her last comment. I believe rape isn't really abuot sex, it's about power and control over the person being raped. Which would go some way to explaining why rapists are usually someone you know, rather than a complete stranger, too.

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  17. Sofiya - re-read libertyscotts post again and get over yourself.
    For a start the main point was that men also get raped - I think he even mentions by other men more than what he does by women.
    And it is a typical left feminist troll thing to do to cry about how women's rape statistics are under representative of the actual incidence due to the shame etc, but then ignore that mens rape statistics are even more under representative due to the same reasons magnified by their so called place in the patriarchical hierarchy.

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  18. > I've known a few sex addicts, and I'm fairly confident they don't go out raping anyone.

    Hopefully hardly anyone you know goes around raping people! (if they do please report them!)
    Anyway - I still think my position is defendable - I know lots of men don’t go around raping people and yet that doesn’t stop "being male" (or “having testosterone” if you like) from obviously being a major factor. The question is "are there many rapists who don’t care about sex?" (Seems like an odd concept to me - but I'm open to evidence).

    > Where do they learn to hate and disrespect women?

    I would say people learn correct behavior - after all take a tiny child and they will pull a cat’s tail or whatever without understanding. The question then is "where do they learn NOT to disrespect women." Or more generally "not to exert their power via negative strategies." (Which would also help to protect the ugly and the weak!).

    Span,
    > Which would go some way to explaining why rapists are usually someone you know

    I would have thought that might be to do with that if you are a rapist you will spend more time around people you know than people you don’t know. So more chance to rape the former (as obvious as that sounds)

    I would guess many rapes are continuous (in the mind of the rapist) with some sort of courting - i.e. date rape or even where in their mind there was a date but in the mind of the victim there was no such thing. At some point the guy then says "sex comes next" and pushes the girl into the next step.

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  19. My rapist was the son of a well-off, respected, supportive, two parent family. He was intelligent and well-educated, with many friends.

    My abusive husband came from a poor, single-parent household, but his mother was a very sweet and supportive person, who had firm pro-feminist beliefs.

    I look at what I experience at the hands of those two men, and I can't help but feel fear surrounding any hypothetical male child I may have one day. I can't see anything that was done "wrong" to make those two men abusers, any more than simply growing up in our society. How does one prevent that same outcome in their child?

    I understand your fear, Maia, even if some commenters do not.

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  20. hexyhex,
    we all grow up in that same society too...

    But if your just saying "I don't know what to do to be sure" then I guess we are all in that situation, and as other posters have said all we can do is to try to get all those little things right and hope that is enough.

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  21. I teach 1,000 teenage boys. They are many things: goofy, funny, silly, stupid, crazy, smart, stupid, lazy, violent, sissy, kind, mean. I could go on. My older ones I've had for three years. Some of them are blooming into these amazing human beings, some of them are heading down a bad path. Some of them bob between the two of tome. In the right conditions, we all have the power to be equally amazing and equally monstrous.

    I don't think spending your life worrying about whether your offspring will grow up to be raped or a rapist is the right way for anyone to spend their time. I do the best with what I got, and hope that the conditions aren't right for the monster to come out from within.

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  22. "I wondered how long it was going to be before a men's rights troll started griping that men get raped by women. Yeah, yeah, feminists condemn any kind of sexual assault and abuse, but it's pretty wilfully obtuse to ignore the fact that women comprise the overwhelming majority of rape survivors, and that rape is one of the weapons patriarchy has used since the beginning of time to oppress women."

    Sofiya, you no doubt hate being stereotyped, but stereotyping me is fine? I am no men's rights troll at all, so easy to dismiss another view by stereotyping. I just wanted it acknowledged that boys - children - get raped, by men. The thread started by a view that a baby boy is thought of as a potential rapist (true) and a girl a victim (true), but a boy can be a victim too and it IS just as devastating.

    I am not ignoring or reducing the preponderance of rape, I know rape victims, both sexes, and I don't minimise it at all. I was simply making the point that I found it rather shocking that someone doesn't acknowledge that a boy is at risk of being raped or abused.

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  23. You are a sad case Maia. I've a 12 year-old son and the thoughts you entertain have never entered my head. Now I am thinking about it I'll tell which boys are going to grow up a threat to women. Those that are surrounded predominantly by females with not much good to say about men.

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  24. i think you have nothing to fear my dear – my bet is that your gender confused son will not be able to maintain any form of erection after graduation from womyns studies 101.

    the penis is dirty, and so are boys… the vagina is sacred. girls are always good.

    maybe all expectant mothers should terminate now to prevent the 50% chance of having a ***RAPIST*** psycho killa baby boy soldier prowling the hallways of your local playcentre.

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  25. "At the moment we can protect him from all that. I can sing him songs of hopes and struggle and there ain't nothing can harm him. But that only works so long."

    I know how you feel. I too sung songs of my hope to my then young son. He is now proudly gay and involved in many activist causes. He is an incredible man, not that he likes to be identified a man. I taught him to never assert himself and he has become my closest friend and has forgone friends and career to take care of me now that I no longer work. There is hope for you friend. Continue those songs of hope and you too might have a son as sensitive as mine.

    Spirit Sister.

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  26. Again Maia has started more of her man-hating rants. On that reasoning I am wondering if my future daughters are going to commit infanticide?

    Or possible be a teacher who have sex with their younger male pupils?

    I feel sorry for your son if this is the nonsense he has to grow up with.

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  27. That should read, I feel sorry for the boy if he has you being an influence in his life.

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  28. it is very nice that they didn't condemn the child since there are so many cases where in the mother of the child doesn't want her kid anymore because of the tregedy that happened to her.. there are guys in wealthymen_dot_com who made a shelter for babies who were abandoned by their parents for whatever stupid reason they have...

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  29. If you tell someone not to do somthing enough times (particularly when they are young and can't internalize the concept of "not") they will have great difficulty avoiding doing it.

    Maybe it is this sort of problem that leaps to the minds of many when they see maia's post.

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  30. stellar - I don't have a clue what you're talking about.

    Genius - thanks for the advice - we'll have to stop telling him not to bite.

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  31. Hey Maia, I have been thinking a bit about this post, in the context of what has happened in the last few days:
    http://spanblather.blogspot.com/2005/07/you-will-conform.html

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  32. can't wait for my girl to start understanding words!

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  33. Maia,
    I understand your fears and share them about my nephew. They aren't irrational or whatever some of the posters are trying to say. I think all caregivers worry about how thier children are going to turn out, it's if their not worrying that I would be concerned about their parenting skills. Those who think that they are absolutly right and could never EVAH possibly do anything wrong in regards to raising their children, are the ones I worry about. All we can do is love and nurture the best we can, and hope they will turn out alright.

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