Wednesday, March 20, 2013

How Our Society Raises Young Boys



I've been told that I take things beyond where they need to go.

Getting up from a comfortable position on the sofa -- and living in Wisconsin, that means removing a warm quilt off my lap -- I will walk across a room and without saying a word, pick up the remote to change the channel if a commercial comes on that demeans women.

We won't watch it.

When the few magazines that we subscribe to come to the house, my three boys know I get them first, to check the pages for inappropriate portrayals of women. Sometimes only half the magazine is left when I'm through.

We won't read it.

If lyrics come on the radio while we're driving, screaming about what a woman is for and what to do to her, I'll push the button down on the radio to turn it off like I'm sending it through the dashboard.

We won't listen to it.



My children don't roll their eyes when I do this, because they're used to it. I've been doing it since they can remember, and telling them why. It is my way of showing them what we accept, and what we don't accept, when it comes to respect for women. I read, they read, we all hear things on the radio and we see the same thing on the internet. "This is society and its portrayal of women. This is our culture. This is how it is." The headlines report atrocities like Steubenville as if we're not even to examine this epidemic of toxic attitudes.

I can't control society, the images of violence against women, women being shown as a lesser worth, but I can make a visual statement of what I think about the things I see. I am the first woman my children have ever known. They look to me for what is right and what is wrong, and what I accept. I have always believed that children will watch what we do more than listen to what we say. So I'll keep doing what I'm doing, because it's my job.

Can I manage everything about my three boys, especially as two of them will be leaving our home for college, both within two years? I know I can't. But I am determined to continue with my one- household revolution.

Because there must be a revolution.

A revolution of what our culture accepts in what is right and wrong in the treatment of women. Our house is the first society my children see, and here at home, they will see respect for women and taking responsibility through action for what we allow to enter into our world. I'll keep taking things beyond where they need to go, as people tell me I do, because one day when my children are without me, the memories of my physical actions will ping at their conscience like a snapping rubber band. They'll see me, walking across the living room in search of that remote, tearing the pages out of the magazines, turning off the radio. Taking that stand against females not only in words but in deeds, when women are put in positions that objectify them, and I'll tell them why I do what I do. Because this is not acceptable.

My children may read, hear, and see, "This is how women are portrayed in our culture. Accept it, you can't change it," but in my small big louder than words way and in front of three boys who will one day be men, they will see, that no, we don't have to accept it -- not in this house we don't.

* * *


58 comments:

  1. Thanks, Alexandra. Thanks for raising boys that will get it. They will get it because of you. And because of you and moms of boys like you (and me, too!) my daughters will meet open, fair, and kind gentlemen someday, if that is what they choose to do.

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    1. Thank you so much, Shannon. What encouragement you always are. xo

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  2. And this is it, Alexandra. One household at a time. Each parent talking to each child -- boy or girl -- and explaining expectations, morals, right and wrong, hell, give fake situations to prepare them for what they might need to do but for the love of all the victimized people in the world, we have to keep talking to our children.

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    1. It begins at the breast. And the respect taught unto that breast. xo

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    2. I love this response, Alexandra - begins at the breast and the respect due to that breast. This was just a brilliant post, one that helps to make the world a better place and inspires us all to try harder! As Arnebya said, one household at a time.

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  3. Yes!!!! Thank goodness we at least have the say of what is and isn't acceptable in our homes! I do have to say that now that the teen years loom and the idea of girls showing up at our door, knowing the little gals around here, I AM SCARED TO DEATH! Too many parents don't care anymore.

    And it must be so hard to be a mom of girls these days. You hear all that crap, you can barely buy clothes that cover them properly, and it's just demeaning all over, and so that must make it okay, right? Um... no. I may be the only female in my house, but I will run it into the ground on how I expect my kids to treat females. Now they have baby girl cousins and they love and cherish them, so hopefully that will help the case. "They" say chivalry is dead. I say, let's resurrect it. :)

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    1. Yes, You and I: the mother of all boys. We are the female they see, and we are the firs one to model, not okay, boys. xo

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  4. Good for you. (And good for your boys.)

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    1. Thank you so much, Korinthia. We are the first society our children see.

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  5. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. xoxo

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    1. In light of your post today, I am without words. Only full of love for you. xo

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  6. everything I know, I learned from watching you.

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  7. I believe this works. I really do. It's easy to turn out words but not so easy for actions--and not even just for kids, but for everyone.

    I'm glad you do this. I'm glad for the girls they'll date and the girls they'll be friends with, and for your future granddaughters. All of them because you throw away chunks of magazines and go for the remote.

    Gah, I am glad I know you.

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    1. Know what's funny? I love knowing you. xo

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  8. I had no idea you did this. I love learning more about you with each post of yours that I read. This just goes to show you are even more amazing than I realized! Your sons are lucky to have you so vigilant teaching them the right way to interact and treat women. In the long run, they will lead happier lives and have happier marriages. Now if society would only take your lead!

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    1. Thank you, Chrisor. I finished the books you sent me, and am so grateful. What a mind vacation they were for me. THANK YOU.

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  9. I think many kids are raised well, maybe not as well as yours, but I'd like to believe thoughtfully, at least. But I fear that peer pressure and alcohol is a lethal mix when it comes to teenagers. Since their frontal lobes aren't fully developed until they're 25, it seems they can make choices that they don't even realize are dangerous.

    My Dad was an ex-smoker who was desperate for my sister and I not to pick up the habit. From the day we entered high school, he promised us $100 a year if we didn't smoke. I never did but my sister, my goody-two-shoes sister, got caught smoking in our own back yard because the girl next door smoked! AND MY SISTER IS THE MONEY GRUBBING ONE!

    After we left home, we both eventually picked up the nasty habit. I smoked for 10 years before I quit. Ditto my sister. You'd think my father drilling it into us about cancer etc would have worked but we both picked up smoking because "other kids in college smoked."

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    1. Sigh.

      We parents try, Suzy. We try.

      xo

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  10. Good for you! I agree with standing firmly behind something you're about and have passion for. This is an excellent for your boys, and I bet they've gained values that will help them so much as they leave your home. Respect for women!

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  11. This is why I treasure our friendship so much. You help me be a better mom and think of ways to have these conversations. Your boys are gentlemen who respect women.

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  12. I appreciate this post, Alexandra. So far I haven't had to do too much with media because my little guy has been playing in his protected little world of Legos and kiddie DVDs. But he's getting bigger/older, and my influence is going to be less. Knowing what you do at home just gave me some lessons in what I need to do from now.

    We did have our first lesson with the Oscar awards, though, as you know, when that kid host launched the show with the inane "We Saw Your Boobs" song. This bought out the giggles in my son, but we had a talk right away about what that song was all about, and his smile was wiped away in an instant when he understood what it really meant. I agree: start early at home and when they go out into the "real" world they will see just how screwed up it all is. They will have a good, moral reference point to always go back to.

    I am thankful I went to a women's college, where I saw things not as how they are but as how they should be. Some people argued that I was not living in the real world, but living in the "right" world where women were respected and had a voice was the one way I was able to identify all that was missing and wrong once I got out. Sometimes you are so used to the way things are that it just seems normal to you.

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  13. This is awesome. You go girl!

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  14. I read a post today from one of my new blogging friends. I could not comment, it was too close and a horrible person had left hideous comments. I have a son. He knows how women are to be treated. I taught him. Thank you for this post. Your sons are fine young men. I am sure of it.
    L. Hewitt

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  15. You and I are on the same wavelength. Of course, I had to write about it today too.
    One household revolt at a time, mama...
    That's how change will happen.

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  16. Absolutely..."not in this house"!

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  17. YES!! At the end of the day, "society" doesn't raise boys, MOMS & DADS do. Thank you for the inspiration to continue being the non-stop voice of how we treat people and what real strength and courage mean. yes yes yes!

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    1. Strength means being there for the weak. Strength means being the unpopular one and calling the police. Strength means protecting, keeping away from harm, and guarding against danger. I'm with you. xo

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  18. Yes!! I am with you on the revolt. That is how I want to raise my boys. To be gentlemen. To be good, kind souls.

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    1. I am positive in this, you will succeed. xo

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  19. I did the same thing when my kids were growing up, before they left home. (and still do it with just me here) What really surprises me, is that the three of my boys, all raised by the same two parents, are all so different, especially the oldest one that has two daughters. He's way more accepting and complacent with stuff than we ever were.

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  20. Oh Alexandra, how I adore you.
    Thank you for teaching the next generation of moms of boys (like me) "HOW".

    while my 5 yr olds get a lot of talk from me about how to treat girls, they are still a little young to get the full message, but when it is...I am going to remember every word of this post...and put it into action.

    NOT IN THIS HOUSE,NOT IN THIS FAMILY.
    xoxo

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    1. Thank you, Kir. I've been accused by people watching me that I over react but BIG actions -- BIG notice, especially by little eyes.

      I love you, Kir.

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  21. As a mom - and as a boy mom - I have started the "in our house" discussions and how we do things "in our house" may be different than what others do. I want to raise boys that are empathetic and accepting - and above all, know that everyone deserves respect.

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  22. I love how you have addressed today's "hot button topic" without directly mentioning the place, the names, the incident.

    Because it's not about protesting what happened in Steubenville.

    It's about what we do during the rest of our lives when we aren't hearing about these atrocities on the news.

    It's about what you do EVERY DAY YOU ARE A MOTHER.

    Love you, lady.
    You're doing it right.

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  23. Found your blog through a rabbit trail of others. I appreciate what you're doing with, and for, your sons and wish more people would take a stand like this. Thanks for sharing and making a stand for the reasonable and respectful treatment of more than half the world's population.

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  24. Yes, yes yes! This, "No. Not in this house it's not." Is absolutely true. I hate how people are okay with accepting it. Because its too uncomfortable to talk about, because somehow they believe their children know better. They only know better if you teach them better. Society isn't going to do that. The media is going to do that. WE have to teach them better. We have to teach them that its not okay that women feel like its their fault when their raped. Because its NOT. Because the victim is a VICTIM.

    I'm getting all riled up about this again.

    Thank you for teaching your boys better.

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  25. I do a lot of this sort of thing, too. In the car, when my kids are with me, my thumb stays on the toggle switch for the radio stations so I can change the station at a moment's notice. The kids just accept that we will NOT be listening to songs that talk about strip clubs for instance. And yes, they are 16 and 19. But although they think I over-react, they both identify as feminists so I figure I've done something right.

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    1. The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. xo

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  26. Well now I know that if we move, I want to come live by you. And then I want my girls to marry your boys.

    Thank you!!!

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  27. Bravo! One day the lovely ladies who enter your sons' lives will thank you. :)

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    1. Let's hope so!! (how are you???xo)

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  28. This is pretty amazing. I hate how women are portrayed in our culture but I certainly have never thought to take a stand against it in that way. Now that I'm about to bring another male into the world, teaching him how to respect women has been on my mind a lot. Thank you for the inspiration.

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    1. You always make me smile when you stop by. I need to catch up. I love knowing that I can inspire you as you begin this tremendous journey of mothering. xo

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  29. I have decided that the most important thing I can do as a feminist is raise my sons with the clear awareness that women & men share our society & our world, neither of which can function without the full participation of all of us. I too yank pictures from magazines, patrol the radio & television. Heh heh heh: and it's how I get Husband to be more, shall we say, "domestically engaged." I say: do you want your sons to grow up assuming that some woman is always going to do the housework?
    Works every time.

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    1. I miss you.

      When Listen To Your Mother is done, May 5, I can come back and see all my favorite bloggers (that would be you) xo

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  30. This..but in my small big way and in front of three boys who will one day be men, I can say, "No. Not in this house it's not."..I loved this.
    "In my small big way." I'm going to hang onto that. We can all do something in a small big way.

    A resounding yes to this post...to your inspiring words, my friend.

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    1. Thank you, my dear Heidi. Now I need to come over and catch up with you, dear lady. xo

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  31. If only more people would approach life like this....

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  32. I love you and all of your beautiful words and shares and encouragement. You inspire me to be a better mother, and you give me ideas to make that happen. My son will be a better man because I care enough about him to take these steps too.
    xo

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    1. Kristin, you: LOVE seeing you. Thank you. xo

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  33. I'm right there with you. I'm a boy mom, and I'm glad I'm not alone. Sometimes it feels like I am tilting at windmills. Today, I feel encouraged.

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