I don’t ever tell my kids – boys, sons – not to hit girls.
I never reinforce the “men don’t hit women” message.
And I won’t.
I refuse to.
I realise, on the eve of White Ribbon Day, an initiative set up not just to draw attention to domestic violence against women, but to do something about putting a stop to it, that this may be a little provocative.
I hope it is, and I hope this is read by many.
I will not teach my sons not to hit women.
Do I think women deserve to be hit?
Do I think violence against women is acceptable?
Do I think White Ribbon Day is pointless?
I’m going to go off tangent slightly. It’s kind of related, but also kind of not.
I am going to admit that, right now, I find raising boys difficult. I find it a minefield and I feel I’m constantly walking a tightrope above a deep, dark chasm, filled with crocodiles, bombs, and crocodiles that shoot bombs from their mouths.
We are in a world that is desperately – although frustratingly – attempting to support women (and girls) to be whatever it is they want to be. To obtain more rights for them, to obtain an equality that is still, sadly, very, very lacking.
It has come a long way, but there is still so far to go. I hope it is achieved soon.
Right now, at this point in time, whilst we’re fighting for the rights of women, fighting for equality (and in a rather slap-in-the-face-with-a-wet-fish moment, perhaps, under the circumstances, the word “fighting” is highly inappropriate. Work with me here? You know what I mean, right?) and fighting to be seen and heard.
I have no problems with this fight, and support it as best I can.
Right now, at times I feel that this is at the expense of men and boys. In some cases, rightly so. In many, however, I see this to the detriment of our young men and future men. Even some of our current men.
They are oft portrayed as beer swilling, stupid acting morons, incapable of raising children, cleaning house or doing anything other than looking good in a suit, and attracting bimbos with an horrendously overpowering body spray.
This is the case in commercials, on TV shows, in movies and more.
Most men are not like this.
But now I’m going way off tangent … sorry.
Back to my point; raising boys, right now, is a tricky course. Because I want that equality for women, but I also want it for me. Because I want to see women respected more, for little girls to grow up to be what they want etc. I also want this for my boys.
Which is why one of my messages to them is NOT about “don’t ever hit girls”.
Men hitting women, even from young ages, is appalling. I hate that it is occurring in such gross numbers, or that it is occurring at all.
I think it is disgusting, it is appalling and I would very much like to see it stopped entirely.
Men hitting men, however, is also a massive issue.
We see more young men in induced comas, in wheelchairs, or in coffins as a result of male-on-male violence.
Whenever I see or hear a story on the news about yet another “coward punch” and the results of that, my heart is gripped with fear.
Those stories, however, are a significant under-representation of the rates of violence between males.
The message I give my kids is not “don’t hit girls” it is a simple “Don’t hit.”
I encourage them to communicate; which, as we all know with males, is bloody difficult at the best of times. I encourage them to stop, to breathe, to walk away. To go outside for a walk, ride, or parkour session and get some pent up energy out of their system.
I encourage them to just do something that is not hitting, not hurting, and non-violent.
They can swear, rant, and rave. They can say horrible things, which I know, in the heat of the moment, will help them to get whatever it is that is bothering them out of their systems.
I also encourage parents with daughters to encourage their girls to learn to communicate; to both listen and to speak, to state what is really going on in a calm, informative manner.
I encourage both parents of boys and parents of girls to allow them to get whatever is on their minds, out, in a safe environment. By ‘safe’ I mean allowing them to say what’s what and not yelling or getting upset with them, not berating them, not degrading them, and, most importantly, not taking it personally.
I believe communication can solve just about anything, but it needs to go both ways.
Absolutely, make it clear to your boys that it is NOT okay to hit women.
More than that, however, make it even more clear to your boys that is is NOT okay to hit. Anyone. Ever.
By all means, support White Ribbon Day tomorrow, November 25th – for it is an absolutely fabulous cause and I think it is really, really, really important that the community are made aware of just how much domestic violence goes on within the home, instead of pretending it is all ‘out there‘, in the community and we’re all unsafe if we leave the house. Ever.
Teach your boys not to hit girls, teach your girls not to hit boys. Whilst you’re at it, teach your boys not to hit boys, and your girls not to hit girls.
Teach respect whilst we’re striving for equality.
Breathe whilst you’re doing it.
Then go and have a nap when