Tuesday, July 08, 2008

so I got this comment a while ago, off this old-ass post -- haven't really been sure what to do with it:

The first thing I thought of when I saw how flippantly you were treating the issue of oppression, was, "he's gonna be a rapist".

Because, geewhiz, your son would never internalize negative perceptions about women, so you don't have to worry about it.

There's a difference between making fun of our sexist, racist culture, and dismissing it as a problem which needs no further attention.

You dismissed it. That's probably kinda harsh considering all the stresses of new parenthood, but it's exactly when we are most stressed that our true beliefs emerge. You dismissed it.

and I'm all - oy, this again?

but maybe it's more than just nasty bitches looking for the worst possible thing to say to me this time. maybe there's some point I'm really missing, or some mistake I'm really making, that will condemn my little boy to years and years in prison someday.

I don't think I'm flippant about oppression, except where oppression has it coming. it's a little like saying that Mel Brooks is flippant about Hitler.

but what makes a rapist in the first place? a mom who does not take The Patriarchy remarkably seriously on her blog? that's it? that's all I have to do to turn an otherwise happy, healthy little human being into a monster?

I'm thinking there's probably more to it than that. I'd have to teach him that girls are icky and have cooties, or conversely, teach him that girls are helpless victims of evil men and he should be ashamed of his ugly Y chromosome, or maybe teach him that girls exist for his pleasure alone and he should exploit them at any and every opportunity, starting in nursery school.

or all of that at once. with a side order of mommy-doesn't-love-you.

which, no. seriously. I'm way too lazy to go out of my way to teach something I don't believe myself.

as far as "internalizing negative perceptions about women," I'd like to know more about what is meant by that. damaging media messages? yeah, that's an uphill battle, no doubt. harmful social/interpersonal interactions? sure, I get that too. but what else was this commenter trying to say? I don't know. wish s/he would have elaborated as to how s/he thought I was helping an infant internalize negative perceptions about women by blogging disrespectfully.

hey - you got a problem with how I raise my kid? please, feel free to tell me all about it. give examples. be detailed. explain how my mistake will come to damage a woman that my son hasn't even met yet.

you're not interested in saving womankind from the scourge of Wolfgang? then piss off.

I believe a boy's relationship with his mother forms his opinion of all women. That's my experience, anyway. You love him? Teach him compassion and mercy? He'll be fine.
Have people like that commenter even read anything you've written? You've mentioned your abusive first husband enough times for someone to probably get it into their heads that you aren't too big a fan of men who hate women. Unless, of course, they're a total idiot who's ignoring the forest for the tree.

Don't you hate that sort of person?
rootie - yeah, I thought that too.

ufpc - my first husband's mom? probably didn't know she was raising a rapist...

but that's the thing. there are really good questions buried in here, if anyone cares to discuss them without being all evil about it.

I mean, what if I do everything exactly right and he still winds up a rapist?

does the world (and feminists, and the victim) get to blame me?

what if I do everything wrong and he still doesn't wind up a rapist?

do I still get to take the credit?
Free will is a powerful and dangerous thing. Your kid has it, so do your first and second husbands and you. Your job as mother (and your husband's as father) is to "Teach a child the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it" (that's from Proverbs, but I don't remember chapter and verse). Your job as parent is to equip your child. What you equip him with is up to you. Eventually (like, when he's 14 or so) he'll start testing what you taught him, and when he gets over it, will likely be the kind of person you raised him to be. It's not a given, but it's likely. The main point is, everyone has the ability to choose how they behave, however they were raised. Or so I believe, anyway.
Of course parents always want their kids to turn out well.

The point I was trying to make was that you're not going to actively try to raise him to be a bad person. Which seems to be what some people are saying about you.
ufpc - right?

I get you.

so, I'm still left to wonder - are folks just trying to come up with the Worst Possible Thing to say, to sort of wind me up and watch me go? (cuz, yeah, I can see where that would be hours of entertainment...)

or do they really think I'm neglectful and abusive based solely on my blog? (in which case, well, I guess I gotta consider the source.)

re my exhusband's mom - she was a nice lady, raised three kids while her husband was overseas, was kind of strict and a little fussy, but, you know, not overly neurotic.

which has me thinking - did my exhusband's DAD raise a rapist? does becoming a rapist have more (or anything) to do with one's relationship to one's father?

I mean, how do rapists evolve out of otherwise-normal children?
Well, my rapist ex-boyfriend's mother was married three times, and her second two marriages were to abusive alcoholics. I have no idea if the abuse included rape or not, all he ever told me were that the 'men' (I use that term loosely) hit his mother. Husband #3 was prone to going off on violent fits for no apparent reason--to his wife and stepsons. He was a hunter, there were guns in that house. Deer heads all over the walls.
Husband #2, I know, was left alone to watch the kids for extended periods of time. During those times he would accuse them of being 'bad' and use this as an excuse to hit them. This was when my ex was four or five, his brother was two or three. He said that because of this he often would just withdraw, sit off by himself and not move so he wouldn't be 'bad.'

Did this influence my ex's mentality at age 18? It did in other ways, I know. Husband #3 was still married to his mother at the time he raped me. I know there was a lot of pressure from him to be "a man." (Ie, a big tough dude.)

So maybe the adult male role models (as neither of these people were actually his father, and his real father was involved in his life to a degree) do influence whether a boy turns into a rapist or not.

But ultimately, the bad actions of these two men do not excuse the actions of my ex. People have free will.
Congratulations on your little one. I have boys and here's how I come to terms with some of this stuff. (Hopefully) It can be as simple as respecting their body and asking permission before I pick them up or change them. Giving them real choices and being respectful so I give them an example of the way I want them to behave. I also have started talking about how they should behave when they are dating. Boys are taught to push the comfort zone of others and see it as a win which someone loses, right? I tell them that they need to get real consent before doing something with someone rather than to them.

There is something to the theoretical reasoning that mothers do raise the oppressors of others, as ufpc touched on in her comment, but it's not meant as a personal attack on mothers. I see it as a motivating factor in my parenting style. I guess I try to model a relationship that is not based on power dynamics but mutual respect.
hi Kit! welcome!

(Hopefully) It can be as simple as respecting their body and asking permission before I pick them up or change them. Giving them real choices and being respectful so I give them an example of the way I want them to behave.

I see what you're getting at. that's pretty cool. how is it working? do you see results?
It's hard to be impartial because they are my kids. The feedback I get from most people and teachers is that my kids are sweet, kind and thoughtful. I have a teen now and I've had mothers tell me that they hope their daughters marry him because he is so sweet/kind and confident. It depends on on what you value for your family. My guiding principal is that I want to raise children that I can stand to be around. The rest is a bonus.

I did attachment parenting and followed the guidelines in "How to talk so your kids will listen & listen so you're kids will talk"by Adele Faber. Love that book even for dealing with other grownups and effective communication. I'm not a perfect parent and I don't think that it's possible. Kids have to see you f* up and deal with it in the right way as one of the lessons on the way to adulthood.

I appreciate the teachings of Maria Montessori in allowing children to develop skills and appropriate confidence. I never sent them to a montessori school but set up my house so that they could do as much as they were ready to do. Small table in the kitchen instead of a high chair at about 1 1/2, small containers so they could pour food for themselves and access to cups/dishes. I also respected their clothing and hair choices even when they seemed embarrassing in public.

I'm wary that I'll come off as bragging or making it a contest on parenting skills. Since most people don't value mothering it's too easy to make each other feel bad about our choices and that's not my intent. I sense that you're a seeker and want to learn so I share my info and that my kids are turning out well as support of that approach. Whatever path you decide to take I am pretty sure that he'll turn out fine since you're so thoughtful and open about stuff.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?