On How We Raise Rapists: A Realization
Catcalling. Sexual harassment. Sexual assault. Powerful men. Regular Joe's. Men you know. Men you don't want to know. Is it nature or is it nurture? I'm no psychologist but I've heard stories from enough men and seen our interactions with little boys enough to conclude that we are raising rapists.
Is this going to be another article blaming women for the behavior of men again? Absolutely not. By we I mean ALL OF US---women and men. Let's start with a quick story. I once dated a guy who loved to tell a cherished childhood memory about how he would playfully go under the skirts of women and how everyone thought he was so adorable because of it. Not just aunties or his meemaw---any women, all women. Every time he told the story, I cringed. He told it as a way to cement the charm he was born with. Never reprimanded. Never denied his safe haven between the legs of unsuspecting women.
This is often our reaction to little boys. When they fondle women/girls. When they demand hugs/kisses from little girls in their classrooms. We celebrate their masculinity. We crown them with terms like "mannish" and "playa" because we think that forcing toxic ideas of what being a man is will protect them from the possibility of being gay. When, truthfully, that won't be determined by how many girls he kisses at all. (but that's a topic for another post. because. y'all are exhausting. ok?). While we teach girls to be accountable not only to themselves but to others---we let little boys run amok in the name of teaching them to be autonomous. We are showing them how to lead. How to be fearless. How to "demand respect". How to expect a yes but forge forward in spite of one. So when they're powerful, rich, handsome, athletic or just man---and the behavior has dire consequences for all parties involved, why are we surprised? Why are we in awe of their inability to respect the boundaries of others when we've reinforced this behavior in every way from childhood?
When we fail to properly educate boys on how to interact with girls they grow into men who think women owe them sex in exchange for being decent human beings.
And while we raise boys to be "leaders", we raise girls to consider how they dress, speak, wear their hair, bat their eyes, paint their nails, walk, eat, etc...as if they can ward off the men we've created by avoiding red lipstick and carbs. We tell girls not to grow up too fast as we thrust babydolls into their arms and teach them to sit with their legs crossed. We teach them to bend to powerful men, in hopes that the money and influence will trickle down far enough to bridge the pay gap. We teach them to use their looks as a calling card and then chastise them if all they have to offer is their "pretty". And what's worse? We blame them for the actions of men who can only acknowledge their humanity if they have "daughters and sisters". This is not about pushing sexuality on children---this is about teaching them to respect others. It's not too early to tell your son that a girl gets to decide whether or not she wants to be hugged, or touched at all, by him just because he's not old enough to know what sex is. It's not too early to tell your son that a girl isn't simply "playing hard to get" when she denies his advances and giving her unwanted attention on the street/at work/in social settings/in religious settings/at a friend's house/at school/at a bar/after a party/in a car/on a bus/ on a train/or even sitting in his bedroom does not a man make.
Harvey Weinstein and men like him don't one day grow up and decide to rape. They are their ancestor's wildest dreams----the cumulation of centuries of men who have been taught that a woman's body is for their personal enjoyment, by any means necessary. They are the hope of the "boys will be boys" apologists and the sparkle in the "bitches ain't shit but hoes and tricks" generation's eye. They are the seed of the "just don't leave her around Uncle such and such" testifiers and the handiwork of the "these little girls are fast" theologists. They are not bad seeds, they are simply the fruit from the trees that we refuse to cut down---time after time after time after time after time after time
after time after time after time after time after time after time after time after time after time after time.....
More work from Iman here.