Why I WON'T teach my boys not to hit girls

I don’t ever tell my kids – boys, sons – not to hit girls.

I never reinforce the “men don’t hit women” message.

I don’t.

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.

GOOD!

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?

Absolutely NOT!

Do I think violence against women is acceptable?

Hell NO!

Do I think White Ribbon Day is pointless?

NOPE!

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.

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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.”

Anyone.

Ever.

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

23 Replies to “Why I WON'T teach my boys not to hit girls”

  1. well said! We should be teaching to not hit ANYONE ever, we should also be teaching respect, and above all we should be teaching communication skills….thoroughly enjoyed this article and completely agree.

  2. It’s interesting because I was watching a children’s show with my 8 year old daughter today where a girl was beating up a boy complete with a laugh track. I took this opportunity to tell her that all violence was wrong and that the show was wrong for making it appear funny. Luckily my daughter is smart and she totally gets it. That a show (a children’s show of all things) would depict humor out of something like violence just goes to show what we’re faced with. The show was (I think) “Good Luck Charlie” and we’re talking serious violence (the boy’s face was bruised and had a bleeding lip). For some reason there appears to be this double standard where it is okay (and funny) to depict violence against boys.

  3. I agree with you on the most part but you did fail to also acknowledge that boys and men can also be killed or hurt through the violence of women. What you said you would teach girls is fine but you should also teach them that they to should not hit anyone. And you also too should teach your boys, whether you left out if you do not, you didn’t state, that they should not be hit by girls or boys either.

    You say you are above a bunch of crocodiles with bombs, having boys and i appreciate your analogy – but as a father of girls, they too can be manipulative and also violent. My youngest in toddler care, tackled 2 older kids, 1 boy and 1 girl because they took her toy she was playing with. So teaching kids is a hard thing to do, within both genders.

    I also taught my daughters that if they felt extremely threatened and someone was hitting them, that they should hit directly on the nose to show they do not have to put up with that violence and it may also teach the other child that they can not just hit without consequence, although i also said we do not just go around hitting people either. It is trying to get the message across that they also have the right to self defense, when it is truly needed. Of course kids are kids and still don’t always follow suit but we persevere with our kiddies. It is about teaching equal is equal in all forms, not different from one gender to the next.

    1. Absolutely, Sandon, I agree wholeheartedly!

      Whilst this post was specifically in relation to White Ribbon Day and the raising of awareness of DV against women, from men, it does not discount all those factors you’ve mentioned, either. No one deserves to be hit like that, whomever is the perpetrator and whomever is the victim, you’re dead right.

      Nice work with your daughter, by the way 😉

  4. Actually you did mention girls should not go around hitting boys so i apologize – but my first sentence is true, that it isn’t just men who kill other men, women do too.

    1. Hey Alecu,

      Thanks for your comments. It is appreciated.

      In all honestly, I think most organisations, particularly the larger ones, have money making high on their agenda … *sigh* … but that’s an entirely different post or seven.

      White Ribbon Australia do state on their donations page that “Through primary prevention initiatives and an annual campaign, White Ribbon Australia seeks to change the attitudes and behaviours that lead to and perpetuate men’s violence against women, by engaging boys and men to lead social change.” … so they don’t actually state they are “raising funds to prevent violence”, but talk about social and behavioural change.

      Given your comment, and many others I have received from men and mothers with boys, as well as the fact I am the only one in my household with a vagina, I do have plans to write more on the topic of violence. I do think men, violence towards men, and the portrayal of men in mainstream media and on mainstream parenting websites is grossly inaccurate and fuelling all manner of misconception and distress that needn’t exist.

      I am rambling again 🙂

      Anyhoo, thanks for taking the time to comment. It wasn’t really supposed to be focussed on White Ribbon Day, but more on the fact that “teaching boys not to hit girls” misses a HEAP of equally important (in my opinion) other messages that would also benefit the community.

      🙂

  5. What about the issue of women hitting women?… lesbian relationships can get real violent… as for the white ribbon nonsense – see that the only campaigns they run are fundraising, the only difference they make is in their own little fiefdom… 17 employees, not a single nurse, counsellor or field worker… just marketing people… it’s a scam, and just a part of the PC DV industry…

    1. Mentioned at the bottom, Kovin 😉

      Just to be clear, this post is NOT about White Ribbon Day or necessarily even about domestic violence – it is about violence in general, and particularly the way it is spoken about in relation to boys and men; the messages they are getting and how I hope others will also start teaching their boys that violence – in general – is not okay.

      I’d really prefer this message not be lost by focussing on something this post is not really about. I understand your frustration, but if you read, you’ll see the main message is about violence overall, and that I’m not focussing on one specific factor in relation to violence. If you read, you will also note that I mention women hitting men (girls hitting boys), men hitting men (boys hitting boys), and women hitting women (girls hitting girls) in the context of it all 🙂

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, it is appreciated.

  6. Great article. Many of my Facebook friends posted their support of White Ribbon day yesterday and I commented that I wouldn’t support any initiative that prioritises the rights of one group over another. “Come on man, it’s just a day to stop violence”. “No it’s a day to stop violence against women, does this mean violence against men is acceptable?”.
    I looked through the Australian Bureau of Statistics yesterday; men are more victims of robbery, assault, threatening behaviour, murder, manslaughter and attempted murder while women represent a greater number of sexual assault victims. Overall men are MUCH more likely to experience violence, yet we have a day to stop violence against women, the MINORITY of victims. I find this repulsive.
    Thank you for advocating actual equality.

    1. Thank you, Matt, for your comments.

      To be honest, I think there is MUCH in the way of things said about men that is misleading and/or misrepresentative. My eldest is nearing 14 and I’m terrified of all that lies ahead of him; in this respect, as well as mental health, suicide, the list goes on … although that’s getting off topic.

      I have always hated hearing parents, with the BEST of intentions, of course, saying “don’t hit girls”. To me, it just leaves the rest open slather.

      And I’m all for equality – I think boys, blokes and dads are mostly an awesome bunch of dudes.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  7. I am dealing with this very issue a lot lately. I teach my children not to hit…period. Don’t hit anyone, don’t be the aggressor, and defend yourself without excessive force. However, I think when we teach children this ideology of “boys don’t hit girls” what are we really teaching them? Are they hearing: Girls are weaker then boys? Boys should take the abuse? Boys should get in trouble for hitting while girls have no consequence?

    My biggest issues is not in the fallacy being taught to young children, it is in little girl’s expecting boys to get in trouble when a boy hits them back. Last year 2 little girls told me that my son hit them. I explained to them that I would talk to him but it would help me to better to understand the situation, and I asked them to tell me the whole story. They told me they hit him and so he hit them back. I told them how wrong it was for them to be manipulative and try to get someone in trouble that way. I told them that my son would not get in trouble today for hitting them back. The each dropped their job and were shocked that I didn’t go over and give him some consequence for him hitting them back.

    I did speak to my son about each incident to get his side of the story, they happened on separate occasions. He was shocked himself. He thought that one of the incidents was playful neither of them hit out of anger but as a game they were playing. And the other the girl stepped on his foot in line and when he told her to stop it she hit him so he hit her back. Not all little girls are made of sugar and spice, not all boys are abusive. I really wish society would find a different way to address the very important issue of violence on women. But in the meantime, I teach my son not to hit anyone, especially girls because society frowns on that and he might not be safe if he does, but to use a proper amount of force to stop any girl who is hurting him.

    1. SN that is SO true! I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this right now.

      I think that’s one of the reasons I don’t like the “girls” bit added to the end – because kids will pick up on stuff and interpret it their way (i.e. boys are not allowed to hit me) or, worse, they having this message reinforced by their parent/s, or “don’t let boys hit you” without being told “don’t hit anyone themselves”. Whether intentional or not, it doesn’t help.

      I don’t want to dismiss how rife domestic violence – male towards female – is, because it’s horrific. I do worry about violence in general, but also worry about the ‘degradation’ of men as humans & the portrayal that they are stupid, brainless, violent, finance plans.

      Anyhoo, I’ve gone off on a rant. Thanks for your comment. You make an excellent point.

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