Monday, June 29, 2009

I'm Sorry, But

This post, by a seemingly well-meaning woman I have never met, nor probably will ever meet, found by some light surfing after following a link from someone I "know" on twitter, really pissed me off.

For those of you who aren't link-clickers, it's a post about "raising a non-rapist." The Moirae have given this woman the grim onus of raising (gasp!) a (probably-)Straight White Male. So, naturally, in order to save society from her son, she has to specifically, explicitly mold him into a non-rapist:
It starts with teaching him that no means no, and that only yes means yes. It means that even though his best friend is almost a year older than he is (just-3, to his over-2), and taller, and larger, and more energetic, and arguably more aggressive -- even though she is all that, he is male, and she is not, and while I don't encourage her to walk all over him either, I do insist that he really listen to her noes, or make sure he gets yeses, when he wants to hug and kiss and touch and play with her.

This all very well could be fine. It could be! Boundaries! Consent! &c! But kids are exercises in unintended consequences, and I can't help but fear for this little boy-child, taught that what's between his legs is a dangerous, potentially uncontrollable thing that he needs to be conscious of all the time, lest he hurt someone around him.

I understand that this is a tricky subject. I understand that the vast majority of rapists are men. But "raising a non-rapist" makes two big assumptions: first, that all, or at least most, rapes, are entirely the result of rational processes; and second, that "rapeyness" is something that needs to be specifically quashed in boys, separately from other character-improving efforts. I (surprise!) disagree with both of those premises, although were someone to show me a study or two proving the first one, I'd be willing to change my tune.

I guess, ultimately, the point is this: my own parents' marriage was basically a total disaster. My mother drank heavily, and my father was verbally abusive a LOT. But they were both, in their own ways, completely committed to my sister, my brother, and me. They wanted to be good parents; they wanted us to become good people. They were both (and still are) totally crazy, basically, but they put their backs into it, and we came out OK. And that's the thing: neither my brother nor I were ever "raised not to rape," my sister was never explicitly educated to fight against the constant barrage of misogyny &c. "Don't hit girls" was as close as we got, but even that was worked into the greater anti-violence agenda. My brother and I are both generally very nice to women, and my sister doesn't take shit from nobody, regardless of their gender. So, I guess really what I'm saying is that raising good people should be the goal, regardless of gender, or gender norms, or your feelings about gender norms, or your feelings about other people's feelings about gender norms, or your parents. ESPECIALLY your parents.


abigail said...

mmm. thank you sir. a good bludgeon of some boring and reductively over-protective liberalist ideological parenting styles is always important. try living in the bay area for two years.
do you think she should also get rid of her husband (my own expectation that she has one) so as to subvert the heterosexual matrix?

corinne said...

raise children not non-rapists.

also, is it just me or is teaching a 2 yr old that "no means no" a little bit more about cookies than sex?


abigail said...

yes so now i'm wondering how she dared to presume "his" gender as well? is she as traditional as to follow a gential-gender corrective? hmpgh!