Archive for the ‘Male allies’ Category

My son and #YesAllWomen

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

 

Last week my firstborn, 14-year-old Elliott, informed me that a group of girls at his middle school were (and I am quoting him directly here) “causing a fuss about #YesAllWomen.”

I was delighted, shocked and confused at the same time. Ever since the Isla Vista killings on May 23rd, I’d been mulling over how I was going to talk to my children about the latest mass murder to occur in the good old USA. I even started a blog post about it that bore the long-winded title “I know I should talk to my kids about Isla Vista but I don’t know if I can.”

Why the hangup? You try telling your third grade daughter about the ubiquity of gender-based violence. You try telling your keenly logical Asperger’s son about the misogyny that fuels so much of said violence–because this is what he will say:

xlrwadxvplsgsqnuaafa

And that is exactly what came out of Elliott’s mouth when he explained how uncomfortable the girls’ fuss made him.

Asperger’s tends to produce thinking that is black/white, good/bad, wrong/right. To him, the fact that HE has never committed an atrocity against women or girls in his life PROVES that “not all men.” If that is a FACT, and really and truly a FACT, then it MUST be brought to everyone’s attention.

 

50500145

 

Please do not read the above and think that my son is an unfeeling robot on autopilot, as current stereotypes might lead you to believe. In fact, he has an extremely tender heart, a characteristic not usually attributed to Aspies but should be; the Aspies in my acquaintance (and there are many) may flounder with the finer points of social etiquette but they are loyal and loving when it counts. I remember well how Elliott’s already pale cheeks whitened several shades when I explained the Newtown shootings over a year ago.* CHILDREN WERE NOT TO BE SHOT AT IN SCHOOL, his mind raced. CHILDREN WERE NOT TO BE SHOT AT. WRONG WRONG WRONG. I think that the detachment some see in spectrum people is really just terrible confusion and anxiety at a world that isn’t easily categorized as they would like.

The “fuss” that the girls were causing involved writing down some of their favorite #YesAllWomen tweets and posting them on the walls of their school. I thought this was fan-freaking-tastic and told him so.

“But it made me feel bad,” Elliott said.

“Why?” I said.

“Because I don’t do that stuff,” he said.

“I know that,” I said.

“But posting all that makes me think that I’m like that, but I’m really not,” he said.

I sighed. “And you felt like you had to tell those girls that you were NOT ALL MEN, right?”

He looked bewildered and more than a little embarrassed: did his mother actually know what happened on the internet?!!

 

121005-1C4161451-tdy-121005-moms-kids-01.blocks_desktop_large

 

I found an excuse to take him for a walk around the neighborhood, as I’ve found my kids do their best thinking when active. We must have gone back and forth for at least 30 minutes before I stopped him on Park Avenue and asked, “Elliott, have you ever made fun of someone just because she was a girl?”

“No,” he said immediately.

“Have you ever made fun of a girl’s clothes?”

“Why would I do that?” he asked.

“Have you ever called a girl a slut?”

He looked like he was going to throw up. “No way,” he said.

“Have you ever hurt a girl? Physically or mentally? Have you? HAVE YOU?” By now I had my hands on his shoulders and I was staring directly into his adorable hazel eyes.**

“NO!” he shouted, so loudly that I’m sure the neighbors heard.

“THEN YOU DON’T NEED TO WORRY,” I announced, “BECAUSE THE GIRLS IN SCHOOL ARE NOT TALKING TO YOU.”

2014-05-18 16.35.53

 

He made a face like the one above (taken in response to the lousy defense in the first quarter of the Minnesota Lynx home opener), took a deep breath, and….

UNDERSTOOD.

We hugged. It was amazing. It was beautiful. I have a feeling it will go down as one of my favorite parenting moments, ever.

Which is why I am blogging it and sharing it with you, and with the Elliott of the future when he Googles his mother’s name.

Elliott, if you are reading this, know that I love you and I am so proud of the boy you are and the man you will become.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 *it sickens me that I must have this conversation every few months. GUN SENSE NOW!

 **seriously, he’s the cutest boy in the world

 

 

What a “family man” looks like

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Dear New York Times,

I would like to introduce you to a family man who loves football.  His name is Matt, and he is my husband and my kids’ father.

 

New York Times, I know that you will hide behind the fact that your source, Ruben Marshall, is the one who called a man who just committed a domestic homicide  “a good man. A good, loving father, a family man.”  You will say that you are merely repeating the, er,  “facts” of the case.

Hmm.

Let’s take a moment and look at the adorable little girl in this photograph, my daughter.  Isn’t she cute?

Back to you, New York Times.  If we move forward with the idea that you presented the story of a murder-suicide in all its complexity, then why didn’t you interview Becky Gonzalez?  You could have asked what she thought about the man who killed her daughter, Kasandra Perkins.  Though Jovan Belcher was the father of Gonzalez’s three-month-old granddaughter, Zoey, I HIGHLY DOUBT she would call Belcher a family man.  She might call him a sick fuck. A perpetrator of domestic violence and terror.  A murderer.

But you didn’t ask her, did you?

I quote my friend, the fab freelance feminist Erin Matson: “Imagine your sister, mom or friend being murdered by her boyfriend with their child in the next room and the newspaper story ending by calling him ‘a family man.’”

Once again, New York Times, I must ask that you look into the eyes of my cute daughter.  Perhaps your perception of any act of violence against her would be colored (pun very much intended) by the fact that she is very young, very blue-eyed blonde, and very much a football fan, not a football girlfriend.

Football girlfriends must subsume their cuteness and vulnerability to the service of their lovers.  Football players are HEROES, amirite?  Which is part of why you used heroic apologetics to describe the football player’s sudden and shocking death as if it were a bizarrely random tragedy, rather than what it really was: part and parcel of the seemingly intractable culture of violence that happens every day, to daughters, mothers and wives from all walks of life.

New York Times, you know that journalism does not occur in a vacuum.  Each writer and editor brings his (YES, HIS) perspective to his writing.  When you trot out “family man” tropes like these about men like Jovan Belcher, you trivialize the seriousness of domestic violence–and worst of all, you erase the stories and voices of women like Kasandra Perkins.  You contribute to the problem.

As a small act of repentance for your part in this culture of silence, I suggest you interview Perkins’ family and friends for their perspectives, then gather your editorial board to issue a strong statement in support of reauthorizing the 1994 Violence Against Women Act. VAWA has stalled in Congress due to political dithering that reflects the cultural myth that domestic violence is something weird, something “other,” something not worthy of our Congress’s time and energy, when the truth is that domestic violence impacts 24 people in the United States every minute. 

And if you need a family man to profile for an upcoming issue of the Sunday magazine, my husband’s schedule is WIDE OPEN.

xoxo,

The Radical Housewife

 

 

What a male ally looks like

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011
While I continue to sift through the fallout from my July 18 post, in which I asked male-identified folk to speak out to end rape culture, I invite my readers to enjoy a video featuring a fella I’ve admired for a very long time. In this particular clip, MY Senator (I love saying that) reminds Focus on the Family of the importance of getting your facts…erm, straight.

This is relevant to our rape culture discussion because when FoF saw the words “nuclear family” in a research study, they assumed it meant only opposite-gendered parents and used it to support their bogus claims. They were wrong. Similarly, when certain members of our population learned that a woman was seen drinking a cocktail with the man she would later accuse of rape (as Jamie Leigh Jones, who has worked with Sen. Franken, did), they assumed she deserved what happened to her. They were wrong, too.