A Letter to My Son :: Don’t Be That Guy

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At MKE Moms Blog, we love presenting a variety of perspectives, sharing authentic stories and encouraging our readers. We’re not here to cause controversy or incite unnecessary debate, and because of that, we often do not approach subjects that we find potentially incendiary or that might offend our readers. Today we are sharing one of our writer’s response to recent events because some topics need to be addressed. 

A Letter to My SonMy darling bug,

I can’t quite explain to you the relief I felt when I found out that you, my firstborn, were a boy. I thought of how nice it would be for any subsequent children I had to have a big brother—a friend, yes, but also a protector and role model.

I thought about how nice it would be to not have to teach you all the things I’d have to teach a girl.

I don’t mean how to dress or put on makeup—I’d be total crap at that. But that’s not what I worried about.

I worried about how I would teach a girl not to ever end up in a situation where she is vulnerable and in danger. In short, how to teach her not to be attacked.

Now that you have a little sister, I know my relief was short-lived and I’m going to have to have a lot of really uncomfortable conversations. As her mother, it’s my responsibility, but I just don’t wanna. I don’t want to teach her how to walk with her keys between her knuckles in a parking lot. I don’t want to teach her that she can never leave her drink unattended or that she shouldn’t dress in a way that makes a man feel that she wants something when she doesn’t. I don’t want to have to explain to her that she really can’t afford to ever let her guard down for a second, and that she can never drink too much. (Of course, I’d prefer if she—and you—learned your limits and stuck to them, but that’s a battle for another day.)

I don’t want to teach her that SHE is responsible for all of the horrible things that might be done to her someday.

So now, while you’re little, I’m taking it upon myself to teach YOU a few things, because as much as I have a responsibility to my daughter, I also have a responsibility to the other daughters of the world. I am committing to this, here and now, in the hopes that when you’re grown, you are an ally for us women.

So here goes.

Here is what I want to teach you.

I want to teach you to respect women. Not because they are some fragile, special class that needs your protection, but because they deserve the respect you give all human beings.

I want to teach you to view women as people—not as objects—despite what the media or other men might say. I refuse to believe that you would ever harm another person if you saw their humanity, so I will tell you now that I expect you to see that humanity in every person you meet, in every situation. 

I want to teach you that consent is only consent when it is given freely, enthusiastically, and constantly. It doesn’t matter if you’re married. It doesn’t matter if she’s drunk. It doesn’t matter if you’re drunk. It doesn’t matter if she’s practically naked and dancing on you. It doesn’t matter if she gave consent 5 minutes ago. It doesn’t matter if she’s slept with you before. The only thing that matters is that in the very moment you’re in, she’s an enthusiastic and willing participant. She needs to know that she can say no at any time, and that you will stop immediately. If she doesn’t know she can say no, chances are she’ll regret it, and do you really want to be among her regrets? No, you do not. Don’t be that guy.

If at any point you witness someone else acting without their partner’s consent, I expect you to step in.

If at any point you witness that someone can no longer give enthusiastic consent, I expect you to help keep them safe.

I expect you to treat other people with the same respect you give to me and your sister. I expect you to challenge your peers to do the same. By being different, you can make all the difference.

In short, I expect you not to be that guy. 

And maybe, just maybe, if enough moms get together and expect these things of their sons, we won’t have to teach our daughters how to dress, walk, drink, and speak just to avoid an attack. Boy, is that a conversation I’d love to not have to have with your sister.

I love you sweetheart. Make good choices.

Love, Mom

Author’s note: While I acknowledge that assaults happen to men and within the LGBT community, my letter focused on crimes perpetrated by men against women because 9 out of 10 sexual assaults happen to women. For more information, please visit www.rainn.org

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