Fear Will Tear Us Apart... Again.

Edited with an addendum below


Tonight I read a fantastic post on Sweet Juniper and after reading through some of the comments I got angry. I know. Anger is bad. Anger is something I try very hard not to possess. But tonight I can't help it. I'm angry.

I know these people are good parents. They are doing their best and trying to protect their children from all the evil in the world. And I know worrying comes with the territory. And I respect that. To a point.

But as a woman who loves men and boys and has a son, I want to scream in the faces of parents who are teaching their daughters to fear boys. To fear "the evil penis". To fear themselves and their bodies.

There are bad guys out there. Tonight I busted one of them who found his way into my chatroom and tried to come on to several of my girls. This makes me angry and sad and after dealing with the situation, we discussed it and then moved on.

There have been bad guys in my life, men who have compromised me sexually and otherwise. Men who embarrass themselves with their shameful harassment. But that is not an excuse. That is not a reason to be afraid...

We must deal with it and move on.

I don't want to hear your excuses for why you shoo boys from your daughters, from yourselves. Because we all have a reason to belittle the opposite sex, and in my opinion men have just as much clearance to do as women do. We are a bunch of fearful neurotic crazy-paths, after all. We're hormonal and we're complete and utter hypocrites.

How does a women who calls herself a "feminist" fear that her daughter will be victimized? Doesn't "feminism" rally behind the strength of women? Doesn't a feminist believe in her own strength as a woman? And that of her daughter as well?

It all goes back to fear. And fear is the sword that separates us. Men from women. Woman from herself.

And maybe I'm the crazy one. (It wouldn't be the first time.) Maybe my being fearless is being naive. And stupid. But more than that I think it has to do with my parents who taught me never to be afraid. And who gave me the greatest gift by doing so. They raised me to feel empowered as opposed to victimized. To face life and not to hide from it, or hide my children. Who are we to tame our children before they even understand what it means to be wild? Who are we to limit their experience with our own closed-minds? Why must our own experience foreshadow what may come of our children's? And don't we remember what it felt like to be a child? Please tell me we do. Because if I'm not mistaken, every single thing my mother told me not to do I did. Twice.

The most fulfilled life is a life lived. A child who is prepared not by fear but by trust. Love. Openness.

I DO NOT want Archer to be afraid. Of himself and of boogie-men and strangers with candy. And if I ever have a daughter I do not want her to be afraid of her body. Or of the "penis." Or growing up. And I want to scream because I know their are parents who are using fear as a way to manipulate their children, because they think that's what is best for them. AND THAT IS SO FUCKING BACKWARDS!

Because Barbie is THE BITCH!

Because a little boy flirted with my little girl. And he was seven-years-old and my daughter is five! FIVE!

Because penises belong to men and men are BAD and they do bad things and objectify women.

Because little boys grow into big-bad-men

Because I was molested as a child and I don't want it to happen to my children.

Well you know what? Fear is the worst kind of molester. Fear rapes the spirit. And the mind.

Little girls are not victims. And little boys who turn their heads when little girls walk by are not evil or perverted or bad. And shame on our society for saying so. Shame on our society for its political correctness and obsessive fear.

A while ago I wrote about going home to San Diego and how two children were expelled for kissing on the playground. In Kindergarten.

Welcome to today-- where being afraid is the only way to make it through elementary school.

Fear is the enemy. And it's trite and cliched but it's true. We are fucking our children up. We are cutting their spirits with our scissors. We are binding them with Caution Tape. With our fears and our lists and our 10 o'clock news. With our horror stories and nightmares and jaded self-importance.

And if this should fall on deaf ears than I'm taking my child and I'm moving us to France or the Moon or someplace other than here... Where little girls aren't being raised in cages. And little boys are allowed to be HUMAN.

The world is not a terrible place. It is only a victim of bad publicity. Protection is our duty as parents but fearlessness is our greatest gift.

GGC

Edited to add, in response of comments: If I see another statistic I'm going to be ill. Can anyone name ONE positive stat off the top of their heads? 1 in 2 marriages end in divorce. 1 in 4 women will be raped. Etc. Etc. Infinity.

Please! Tell me one of you knows a positive stat, because I sure as hell can't think of one. And THAT makes me sad.

It makes me sad that we go around throwing statistics to back-up our philosophies instead of opening up our eyes and examining all angles. Everything is relative.

Fear perpetuates itself and statistics are catalysts for negativity and fear. When you go into a marriage knowing you have a 50/50 shot, does that help your marriage? As a woman, knowing you have a 1 in 4 chance of being raped, does that help you? Does it help you understand men? Or fear them? Does it help you love yourself? Or feel weakened? For me, it makes me feel weak and spiteful.

Weakness and spite are not qualities I want for myself or for the people I love, especially not my children.

My point is that, fearlessness is not pushing your child in the lion's cage or into oncoming traffic. It is not showing a child he/she the roof and saying "jump." It is merely educating the child that lions may bite, that cars may speed, but that not ALL cars will hit you. Not all lions will eat you alive. This to me is fearlessness, FACING the issue, instead of being afraid of it.

53 comments:

Susan D. | 4:03 AM

Funny I should read this... I was out walking with my 2-yr-old daughter yesterday and a man driving by exposed himself to me, prompting the post I just put up entitled "why are men so skeevy?" Now I'm sort of embarassed I made such a sweeping generalization, b/c not all men are skeevy, or scary, or dangerous... I do wonder about how I'll approach this whole constellation of issues with my daughter when she's old enough. I think Juniper's dad is right, that it's about power dynamics, and that we're just as scared of our daughters' sexual potential as we are of the males who might someday become interested in them... hmm... real food for thought here.

K | 4:52 AM

It's all how we raise our sons -- I'm talking about it next week on the radio show - seriously.

Our own experiences need to be taken care in THERAPY -- leave the kids out of it.

I think for many folks, it's hard to separate their experiences particularly when they become parents.

However, we as a society need to cut the whole "men are strong men are capable men don't cry" shit - and allow our men to experience their feminine side as well.

Again, this is my topic next week on the show. Good stuff.

mrs. q. | 5:42 AM

I read that post last night and was saddened as well. I imagined hearing a collective "click" as fathers tightened up their girls' chastity belts. When we had a boy, we were told the old addage, "When you have a boy, you worry about his penis. But when you have a girl, you worry about ALL of them." Man, I hope if I even have a girl, she isn't afraid of penises. Smart about them yes, but afraid? What will that do? Sigh.

Julie Pippert | 6:03 AM

Okay...wow.

First, the "purity" and "your value lies in your chastity" and "sexuality needs to be hiden way, way deep down" is simply the other end (IMHO) of the sexual dysfunction spectrum.

To be clear, I have absolutely no beef with abstinence. Or the choice to remain a virgin until marriage. Or even making this decision from a religious POV versus simply a physical and emotional maturity POV.

My problem with it lies in---as Sweet Juniper put it---fetishizing virginity.

Second, you wrote: "How does a women who calls herself a "feminist" fear that her daughter will be victimized? Doesn't "feminism" rally behind the strength of women? Doesn't a feminist believe in her own strength as a woman? And that of her daughter as well?"

Okay. Wow.

I don't know the Official Card-Carrying Feminist Platform on this issue.

I call myself a pretty evolved woman. But I also know that any one of us---man or woman---can be victimized. Despite our strength.

I believe I am strong. I believe my friends are strong. However, with four of us standing in a row...at least one of us was raped.

I believe my daughters are very strong. However, at least 2 in 1000 children are sexually assaulted each year. At least. That's what is reported and prosecuted.

When your body, mind and spirit are injured due to sexual violence, it is damage. IMO, to take away the victimization angle is another injury. Feel the hurt, the pain, and yes, learn to live with it. There is no "get over it" but there is moving on. With it.

You don't have to continue to live as a victim or to give your attacker power.

And ebcause it happened doesn't mean you are not strong, or valuable. It doesn't detract from you. But it changes and molds who you will be.

I don't work to build a fear factor in my girls. I don't tell them men are evil or boys have bad intent.

I do work to build a confidence factor in my girls, an absolute knowing that they get to say yes or no WRT their bodies.

I do this, all the while knowing there *are* people out there who won't respect this. And so I pray to all that is holy that my girls don't ever meet this person, and more, that if they do, they'll still feel their value and be able to move on.

As for fear, well, a little fear is a healthy thing. Fear in moderation. Listening to your gut. Trusting red flags. I want my girls to believe in this too.

Fear built to anxiety, with an overfocus, perhaps even to phobia level...okay, that's not healthy. It can rule you, be in charge of you. And this is the point at which things like the Purity Ball can happen---and where I think you object. But I don't think this is actually the majority.

I hear your anger. I do. I understand. I have both males and females in my family and friend circle who I love and admire. I think they are strong and wonderful people, and it's who I surround my children with.

But to me, this isn't only about women not believing in their strength.

There is dysfuction out there. But, like I said, my goal is to focus on how to live above it, regardless.

Also, I don't imagine too many mothers of girls who go to the Purity Ball would call themselves feminists, at a wild hair guess.

Julie Pippert | 6:18 AM

Oh BTW...a long time ago in my Very Intelligent Hanging Out at with the Ivy League Crowd salad days...I worked with a fellow lover of language---a man BTW---who, like me, was appalled at the lack of an equivalent-other-side-of-the-coin to misogynist. The sentiment was there...why not the word? Seeing an untenable void, we decided to fill it.

So we came up with:

Misarsenist

This was very well-thought through. We used the most appropriate root word, we thought.

It hasn't made Webster's.

But I'll keep trying. ;)

dreadmouse | 6:48 AM

I agree with Ms. Pippert's comment.

As I said on SweetJuniper's thread, I'm fully aware of the fact that my daughter will someday have sex. It certainly wouldn't surprise me if that happens before she gets married, too. I'm a man, and a father, and I'm okay with that. I want her to have a happy and healthy sex life one day.

That said, I fully intend to teach my daughter to be careful. She should not be completely fearless, because there is danger out there. She needs to know that truth so she doesn't put herself into a situation that she can't get out of. I do NOT want my daughter to be raped, and I will do whatever I can reasonably do to prevent that.

Would you send a child into a lion cage, telling her that if she isn't afraid that everything will be fine? Men aren't all predators, but some are.

sunshine scribe | 7:06 AM

Fear is not the answer. If we are feminists we need to raise our daughters AND sons as feminists. We need to empower them with information and support and education. Its only then that they'll be able to navigate the life experiences they'll lead. Chastity belts and shot guns and lockign your daughter up to be afraid of a penis is not the answer. I'd suggest it might make this whole issue a million times worse.

Shannon | 7:40 AM

Thank you Bec as the mother as a son for saying that. If I hear one more negative comment about having a son I am going to puke. "Were you dissapointed when you found out you were having a boy?" Um no, actually I was hoping for a son, thanks. "I wouldn't know what to do with a boy!" Well loving him a raising him to be a kind person is a start. "Oh he is a total flirt, we are going to have to lock up the girls when he is older." As if he is some sort of molester at 2 because he is AFFECTIONATE. God I hope his affection doesn't land him kicked out of kindergarten.

I am bothered by the fact that men and boys seem to have become something to fear and despise in this "femnist" era. What happened to a time when we had respect for them? Does anyone stop to think that all of the negativity surrounding males may be adding fuel to the fire. That it may be perpetuating aggression and violence towards women?

Definately thought provoking.

MotherBumper | 7:57 AM

I think Sweet Juniper and this post should be required reading for parents, if only to get them to talk about "it". "It" being too large to describe in one single word. Once again, perfectly written words by a wonderful author. Fearlessness IS our greatest gift.

foodiemama | 8:10 AM

you're a good mom! archer is a lucky boy! i feel the same way. its probably why gus and his daddy and i have no constant surrounding of friends with kids...mostly cause of their crazy ass fear mentality. i absolutley refuse to fall into...not even refuse actually, it is just not natural to instill some kind of ass backwards thoughts into my child.
i loathe beyond words the man hating/bashing ways of most woman...even mothers of boys...which is why i absolutley loved your post on feminism.. i find that offensive really. i can't put my words into ways that you do but really, great post..i agree with you!!!!!!

Julie Pippert | 9:00 AM

Shannon,

You said, "I am bothered by the fact that men and boys seem to have become something to fear and despise in this "femnist" era. What happened to a time when we had respect for them? Does anyone stop to think that all of the negativity surrounding males may be adding fuel to the fire. That it may be perpetuating aggression and violence towards women?"

Prior to the "feminist era" women had little to no rights. They were more or less owned by their fathers or husbands. At times in history, women could be imprisoned for sex before marriage, rape was her fault totally, no voting of course, no owning of property, no choice for birth control, abuse was her lot if that was her case, and so forth.

Sure, men held a place of "respect" in that they held all the power, offically that is.

So...

Really?

Really?

You think *feminism* is the reason so many men abuse and sexually assault women curently?

Because they have lost their deserved place due to feminism...and negative judgements about bad behavior, abuses of power aka negativity?

Personally, I celebrate a world where victimizing women is frowned upon and the men who do it are despised for their shameful act. Where women have a voice and can sing about pain, desire, want, need, abuse and so forth...where the female voice is publically valued, generally, as a rule...not as a noteworthy exception.

Of course throughout history some women have had wonderful, fulfilled, successful and happy lives...in or out of the home or both. Any woman at any time can have a bad event or circumstance (or good). I'm not saying all life before 1910 SUCKED for women. men had it hard too, and some actually had it good. I am saying there were laws and mores that were not beneficial to women in the past.

I don't in general---and maybe my life is an odd exception---know mass people who fear and despise men across the board.

We love our boys and men, our girls and women in my community of people.

I hear those silly comments, those "better get a shotgun..." and "what a flirt" and so forth. IMO, it's one of those reflex responses people make...like "hey, don't worry, be happy." Well-intentioned, usually, but sometimes...just not quite right.

I think it's awesome now and again to sit and look critically at it. Ponder what it might reflect.

But I don't believe those comments are deeply held beliefs, in general.

A level of fear between the sexes has been there since the very beginning, the absolute beginnng if you believe Genesis.

IMO, it is understandable. We do, at the very base, have a difference between us.

The key, of course, is to respect the difference while understanding the similarities. My girls are girls, not just humans, also girls. That means something. At least it does to me.

I raise my girls the same way I imagine good parents raise boys: with love, care, and respect with an eye towards raising them to be loving, caring, respectful and respected people.

I might be missing your point...I might be. But that comment really struck me.

Avalon | 9:01 AM

I tried to raise my own daughter to be strong and brave and honest about her feelings. I also tried to raise her to trust her gut instincts. While I generally agree with your theory, I also am acutely aware that there are dangers out there that need to be approached cautiously. Sometimes fear is a great communicator and if we ignore the warnings that fear sends us, we may be placing ourselves, or our children at a grave disadvantage. After working for 11 years in an inner city Emergency Room, I can tell you that I never saw one single incident of a male who was sexually assaulted, but I saw dozens upon dozens of heartbreaking cases committed against females. Not that it doesn't happen to men, but it certainly doesn't occur in the same numbers as it does to females.That is reality and if I choose to ignore reality in the hopes that denying danger will make my daughter stronger, I may be sacrificing her safety.

mrsgryphon | 9:47 AM

Having an infant daughter, I still feel I have some time to sort out how to handle these types of issues.

That said, I do know that I don't want her to be afraid of life; I want her to feel free to explore and be adventurous and to *live* her life the way she wants to.

Between your post, and Dutch's 'shotgun' post, I've got lots of thinking to do.

Thank you.

Anonymous | 9:48 AM

I was sexually assaulted as a kid. And I am pregnant now. Booya!! Well said. Thank you.

Hippie Mama | 9:50 AM

I love how a lot of your posts deal with being fearless and not letting fear inhibit your ability to be a good parent. I think that is so important.

This has all been very interesting and thought provoking. My son (9 mos) is VERY affectionate and sweet, and LOVES smiling and laughing at women-he likes men too, but LOVES women. There are always comments about, "oh, he's such a flirt," and, "he'll be a ladykiller," etc. I'm going to think twice the next time I hear comments like this-or participate in them.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 10:24 AM

If I see another statistic I'm going to be ill. Can anyone name ONE positive stat off the top of their heads? 1 in 2 marriages end in divorce. 1 in 4 women will be raped. Etc. Etc. Infinity.

Please! Tell me one of you knows a positive stat, because I sure as hell can't think of one. And THAT makes me sad.

It makes me sad that we go around throwing statistics to back-up our philosophies instead of opening up our eyes and examining all angles. Everything is relative.

Fear perpetuates itself and statistics are catalysts for negativity and fear. When you go into a marriage knowing you have a 50/50 shot, does that help your marriage? As a woman, knowing you have a 1 in 4 chance of being raped, does that help you? Does it help you understand men? Or fear them? Does it help you love yourself? Or feel weakened? For me, it makes me feel weak and spiteful.

Weakness and spite are not qualities I want for myself or for the people I love, especially not my children.

My point is that, fearlessness is not pushing your child in the lion's cage or into uncoming traffic. It is not showing a child he/she the roof and saying "jump." It is merely educating the child that lions may bite, that cars may speed, but that not ALL cars will hit you. Not all lions will eat you alive. This to me is fearlessness, FACING the issue, instead of being afraid of it.

Jonathon | 10:34 AM

I think the rest of us need to TAKE PARENTING BACK from those who would instill fear in our children.

Whether it's foreign boogeymen coming to blow them up, or evil men in dark alleys selling them drugs, abusing them sexually, or whatever, it's perpetuated by self-loathing and insecure people who feel the need to control their children.

Ugh.

It drives me nuts that I'M the weird one for refusing access to those who are just "trying to be safe."

margaret | 10:58 AM

As the mom of three daughters, I would never teach them to be afraid of males. I think they need to learn boundries as they get older (they like to kiss boys already) but definately not fear them. Most of my daughters best friends are males and I don't see that changing or us preventing that from happening.

Anonymous | 11:03 AM

Rebecca, great post. when you said you were going to move to france i laughed out loud. you see, i was born an dinitially raised in france and my mother raised me in a totally euopean way and continued to do so long after we had settled in the states. fear just wasn't in the equation. She ended up being a single mom rasising three girls by herself abd never taught us to fear men, to be angry at them or to distrust them (even though she had ample reason to feel that way personally). In the end, I became a police officer, my sister became a firefighter and my other sister is an international trasnlator who speaks 5 languages and starts from scratch in a new country every year or so, alone and yet never afraid. We are not women who are afraid. I don't believe in fear. I guess i'm a feminist but I don't see anything wrong with baring my boobs when i'm sunbathing in France. not to mention, the men in france don't glare at you like a horny immature american man would. they see boobs everywhere there (magazines, TV, movies) all the time. This puritan society here is so stupid in that they create an aura of repression and end up having more pornography and violent sex crimes than any other country. The sooner we realzie that creating this "us versus them" feel and indoctrinating our children to subscribe to this ridiculous fear, the more we are perpetuating the stuff that lurks behind the sex crimes in the first place. It's a no win situation. take the "boys are stupid, throw rocks at them shirt", when I saw that while walking around with my 3 year old boy it made me sick. He can't read yet but what happens when he can? How the hell do I explain that to him? How is that fair? Woudl society tolerate a girls are stupid shirt? hell, no. We strip men of their dignity and then blame them when they lash out angrily? Respect is a two way street. My little boy is the most compassionate and empathetic kid i know (boy or girl. To think some dad will one day look at my son like a threat or someone his daughter shoudl be afraid of infuriates me. Why woudl we want our kids to be so damn afraid all the time? Is taht any way to live? Is that any way to enjoy life? Why are we projective our own collective anxieties on our poor unsuspecting children and not letting them have a chance to have their own experiences dictate what they should fear? I don't believe I have the right to impose that on my children. Thank you for your post, as always, you shake things up when they need shaking...
Pascale
www.fabphotos.biz

Andrea | 11:17 AM

I found you from your post Confessions of a Masculist. And I agreed with you then. I agree with you wholeheartedly now. More than ever.

Well said. Better than anything I could say here.

Anonymous | 12:54 PM

1 out of every 1 BMC loves your ass -- in a girl-loves-girl, but also boys-must-also-love-this-girl kind of way. as the mother of a daughter and soon to be a son, i will teach each of them to love and respect the opposite gender, never take bullshit from a man, woman, or decrepit old dood offering sperm samples, or anyone else who wants to mess with them.

i read dutch's post too. in fact, i had to print it out so i can go back and really pay attention to it when i have quiet time. these are important discussions and considerations. i am glad peeps like you (and dutch) are talking about them.

xobmc/dt/mwah/fifi says hi/hi5 from zach

Shannon | 1:55 PM

Julie, I agree that there was a time when women had very few rights and that feminism was a necessary movement to gain equal rights. What I find sad is that we feel the need to belittle and degrade men in order to feel powerful. We should feel powerful because WE ARE powerful. We are in a day and age were we can do what ever we choose. We have choices about sexuality, politics, education, etc. Why do we have to make men feel worthless in that process? I think respecting men and having equal power are not mutually exclusive.

I was sexually active very early. It wasn't because some ogre of a boy pushed himself on me. Actually, it was quite the opposite. I was throwing myself at him. Why? Because my mother was too busy earning money, belittling my father, destroying her marriage because "she didn't need a man". My father was basically pushed out of the picture, and I sought male attention from boys. I understand there are women victimized. I was date raped once at 16. I made bad choices, I put myself in a situation I had a gut instinct was not a good one. But does that mean that I am to assume ALL men are going to victimize me? How do we move forward if we never assume a portion of the responsibilty?
There is a social dynamic here that I think is very damaging. We perpetuate the opinions that men are worthless, and not needed. But you know what, they are. They deserve to be respected, just like women do. They deserve to be feel needed. I am sorry that offends some people. I am educated. I worked in corporate America for several years. I earned a lot of money. I took care of myself. I put my husband through law school. But now I need him to earn the money so that I can be home with my child.

Maybe mothers of daughters don't see it the same way mother's of sons do? I guess they aren't privy to the negativity and disdain for boys the way mothers of boys are?

Julie Pippert | 2:00 PM

Hey, here are some fun stats:

57% of college girls want to sleep with Angelina Jolie (actually..shockingly low IMO)

71% of female college atheletes finish college within six years (higher and faster than their non-athletic peers)

31% of teachers have advanced degrees (in what we do not know ;) )

Boys in dance have shifted from an 80-20 girl-boy ratio to 60-40 (cotillion on young people!)

Listen...I didn't throw out stats to AVOID opening up my eyes or examine other angles. I have thought about this. I simply see it differently than you. I don't think that's a problem.

Yes, knowing 1 in 4 women are raped is helpful. It paints a picture. Not a pretty one, for sure. But a helpful one.

I don't use this to understand men. I understand men the same way I do women: by getting to know them.

On the one hand, you say fearlessness is facing the issue instead of being afraid of it.

On the other hand, you say throwing around statistics is weak and spiteful.

To me being honest about the culture we live in while trying to improve it is a great gift I can give to my kids. This means facing facts (1 in 4 women are raped, cars may speed, lions may bite).

Doing so doesn't mean I categorically teach my girls to fear all men because they will hurt them, all cars will hit them and all lions will eat them alive.

That's a huge logic leap.

I don't teach my girls to fear at all. I teach them to lively smartly and safely...among other much larger lessons, such as be kind and be respectful of people, carry your plate to the sink after meals, and brush twice a day.

The world isn't a terrible place. But it's also not simply a victim of bad publicity.

Bad things happen. People do bad things. This much we know is true.

Being aware doesn't automatically equal being ruled by fear and paranoia.

The greatest gift, IMO, is to teach our children that their value lies within them, who they are, not what happens to them.

And that's how I manage---despite throwing around negative statistics---to live with love, strength, and joy...in a marriage relationship that is over 15 years old with two wonderful children.

Julie Pippert | 2:23 PM

Shannon, I guess it is a lot more gray for me, not so black and white, so either/or.

I'm not sure who or what you mean, actually, nor what you want instead.

Who said men are worthless and not needed?

Who are the "we" who belittle and degrade men in order to feel powerful?

What "it" as a mother of daughters do I not see?

Posing to any and all: what are specific incidents that make you so angry?

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 2:37 PM

I don't think rattling off statistics are facing the issue. Ever. I think statistics are for research. Cold. Calculating. Numbers. I think statistics are a false form of truth because statistics are anonymous and NEVER tell the whole story.

You say you don't see things black and white but where is the color or gray in a statistic? (There is none.)

I think facing the issue is looking it in the face, as opposed to looking it up in a book/manual/dictionary. But that's where we differ. And I agree with you-- there is nothing wrong wth that.

And I appreciate your perspective as always. :)

Julie Pippert | 3:34 PM

Actually, we very well might end up fnding a point of agreement because...I don't begin and end with statistics.

I'm not sure how I gave the impression that I do. They are one piece among many. I'm not that into exclusivity. If I were, I'd have to only hang out with people just like me...which would just piss me off all the time. LOL ;)

The color or gray in statistics is in the humanity they represent, and to simply view the numbers, outside the context, is missing a big piece of it. I thought I carefully explained that I understand men as I do women, by getting to know them.

Now, first, let me ask...what in the world are people saying to or about your boy?

And second, WOO HOO YGG this is a faboo discussion!

People wonder why blogs? Why so valuable (will you hurt me if I throw in a Technorati stat here? If so cover your eyes a sec...57 million blogs, 1.3 million posts daily, and huge readerships)?

It's because of posts like this...and discussions like this.

Thanks!

FWIW, my daughter is the one who approached me, oh maybe at 3? And announced, "MOM! Did you know some of the children are BOYS? They're like girls only...only...NOT!"

Her Bad Mother | 4:23 PM

I don't have a son (yet?), but I do have men in my life who I love and it absolutely does sadden me that in so much 'popular' critical discussion of sexuality/sexualization of girls there is a tendency to demonize men (and don't get me started on discussions of the quote-unquote patriarchy), because I know that they (these good, good men) experience shame on behalf of their entire sex. Which, yeah, saddens me and angers me on a personal level - all the more so because I think that this shaming of men just contributes to the problem. I want my daughter to love and respect men as much as she does women - regardless of her sexual preference - and I want her to love and respect other human beings in the healthiest, most empowered way possible. That means looking sex (and sexuality and gender and all) in the eye and seeing for what it is, in all its glory and messiness and beauty and controversy. And that requires HONEST, open discussion. No blinders.

Thanks for furthering this discussion, friend.

Aline | 6:21 PM

I think what a lot of people who are scared of men are forgetting is that those men are someone's sons. They don't just come into the world as molesters and rapists... but something goes horribly wrong along the way.

And if we are raising our children to be the aggressors, or to be the victims... then that is the role they will take.

Children who feel empowered and are taught to care for and respect others, are a hell of a lot less likely to be harming someone else... And kids who are raised in fear, will probably live their whole lives that way.

We don't live in a vacuum.

Lena | 7:03 PM

Your child is more likely to be struck by lightning than to be kidnapped by a stranger.

You're welcome. ;)

Dutch | 7:58 PM

I'm glad archer is a boy, so that you could write this and inspire all these words from others. and I'm glad he's a boy being raised by a woman like you; if only more boys were.

Kristen | 8:50 PM

I have two sons, and a feminist father, and I'm so with you on this. I hope I do a decent job of passing along the right ideas to my kids...I might have to take some lessons from you. You have an awesome grasp on these issues and an amazing way with taking the philosophies and making them concrete and accessible.

margalit | 11:32 PM

This was a great response to one of the more inane posts I've ever read on any blog. I couldn't believe it myself, and had it not been the middle of the night last night when I did read it, I would have shown it to my son as an example of an asshat parent teaching his daughter to hate and fear men and boys. I'm sorry, but it's reprehensible to approach raising a daughter like this. And I HAVE a teenage daughter who has been somewhat sexually active.

Sex is a fact of life, and teaching your daughters to fear men as if they are all sexual preditors and beast burns my butt more than just about anything. My 14 year old son is SO not a rapist or an abuser. He has kissed a couple of girls, but that's pretty much the extent of his experiences. He is friendly with 2 girls, one of whom is in his band. FRIENDLY. Not sexually promiscuous with. His friends are the same. They're not out to lay every girl and brag on it in the boys head. That might be what Dutch and his friends were into, but that's SO not what teens are into today. And since I have two teens of different genders, I think I might have a bit more knowledge of this than does a 20-something year old man with his head firmly planted up his ass.

Can you see this irritated me?

What kind of stupidity is it to teach girls to fear men? Don't we have enough tsuris on our kids plates without adding to their angst burdens? Aren't kids willing to give others a chance, to be more open to differences? Why should you pretend to be the world's biggest supporter of diversity and then dis fully 1/2 of the population to instill fear into your girls? What kind of bullshit IS this?

helena | 3:41 AM

I don't deny that this issue is important. However, after scrolling down trough your comments, I just think that most of you take yourself too seriously. And I don't think that's a good thing. Why don't you relax a bit and, instead of writing several posts here stating your opinion and stating it again and giving statistcs and telling how much you think your children should be raised, why don't you go to your children and just do it? Let things flow, don't overthink it...please don't take yourself too seriously. Taking yourself too seriously is equal to thinking that you are an important person. You're not. I am not. We're just people living our lives. That's not a big deal. Don't act as if it was.

jchevais | 7:18 AM

I'm a bit astounded and feel a bit out of the loop. Is that really the boy-girl dynamic in the states?

France. 'Tis good.

Mombat | 8:31 AM

I think it is a broader dynamic here in the U.S. than just gender. Everyone is a victim. We don't take responsibility for our own failings, and we don't recognize that some things in life are just accidents. (And this is from a raging liberal.)

Carrying that over to the boy-girl dynamic, we're so quick to blame and to create these scenarios of injustice that we don't teach our kids the tools necessary for taking control.

I struggle with this too, but I try to teach my kids (a girl and a boy) to trust their instincts about people. I never force them to speak to strangers if they don't feel like it. (What a mixed message we give to our kids when we say don't talk to strangers and then make them act cute before them in a grocery store.) I try to encourage them to recognize when someone makes them feel uncomfortable or "icky" so that they can stay away from uncomfortable situations. And then they are in control. I know it's simplistic and doesn't address the stats, but I hope that by giving them confidence that they will not be so fearful and quick to play the victim.

That goes for us parents too. Your daughter pregnant as a teen? Well, did you teach her about birth control? Drinking? Not getting in a car with kids she doesn't know well? I realize that there are many situations our kids won't be able to control, but, come on, folks, it's ultimately our responsibility as parents to ensure that THEY make the right choices to keep themselves safe.

Molly Chase | 10:11 AM

I gotta say that, having known the real, live Dutch in high school, the idea of him "out to lay every girl and brag on it in the boys head" is pretty funny.

Margalit, did you actually read the post on Sweet Juniper? I'm just curious, because your total misinterpretation of everything he's saying is completely laughable to me. Please, spare us your insanity until you actually understand what it is that you're reading, and then, why don't you go ahead and attempt a little respect for parents who do things different than you? Being a parent is difficult enough without being called crappy names by total strangers who clearly don't have a clue what it is that you're saying.

Congratulations on your perfect parenting and your ability to criticize other people's. You must feel wonderful.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 11:21 AM

I don't understand how anyone could have taken offense to Dutch's post. I thought it was brilliant, eloquent and in no means did it do anything but echo a common concern in an open fashion. I think Dutch is an amazing father and have no idea, like Molly said, how anyone could ever translate his post as anything but equal opportunity.

I PERSONALLY rolled my eyes at some of the commenters of his post, and come to think of it, some of the commenters on mine.

Although I do appreciate all of your perspectives I am also going to agree with Helena that people need to lighten up and remember that as parents we are not "Gods" or here to control our children. And those of us with control-freak issues should maybe take that up in a therapist's office and not on our children.

Gwen | 2:16 PM

First time commenter. Gotta say, I love your blog name and the thought of saying something to someone who was even able to have a hipsterectomy (brilliant!) is intimidating, but here goes:

I read Dutch's post, and all his comments (thanks for that 30 minutes gone!) and at first I couldn't figure out what had happened over there that got you riled. Then I remembered the comment from the mother who was upset that an older boy found her little girl attractive (insert rolling eye blinkie here). See, with my youngest daughter, it's the moms of the boys who might be scurrying out of the playground. My three year old is boy crazy, but I've never once thought, "Oh no! Boys are evil! Must scare her away!" Instead, my response to her endless crushes has always been, "Man, I hope that mom and I are still friends in 10 years when my daughter is stalking her son." I've never once heard that horrible "one penis/a thousand penis" quote, thank all the personal jesuses of the world, and I don't know many people in real life who are a man-hatin.' I sometimes say to my husband, however, after watching an ad in which men act appallingly and everyone yuks it up, "Aren't you so irritated that men are portrayed that way?" It's weird to think that in a world that is still so male-dominant, men allow themselves to look like such tools in popular culture. Why is that?

I totally agree that children shouldn't be motivated and limited through fear. But I was raised a hell-fearing fundie, so I might have some baggage there.

Many of Julie's comments resonated with me, even if she *did* use those (hated) statistics, which are so easily manipulated--I'm not saying by Julie, but by their creators--to support whatever your claim.

I wonder, too, how much levels of fear are genetic. And I have no statistics to answer that question, just the anecdotal evidence of siblings with markedly different fear threshholds.

I guess the one thing in your post I might sort of disagree with, and only because I'm sometimes semantically obsessed and because I read something Penelope Leach said about this very issue, is the idea of fearlessness as a virtue. To me, fearlessness is not understanding that danger exists and so plunging into a street heedlessly or throwing your hand into the lion's cage because you don't know lions have teeth. And so while living fearlessly sounds wonderfully alive and even romantic, it also seems dangerous in the worst way, because the danger could be averted. What I want for my own daughters (and nephews and nieces) isn't fearlessness, but bravery. Bravery is knowing that life can be scary and hard and dangerous and choosing to engage anyway. That one seems harder to achieve.

the weirdgirl | 5:29 PM

Thank you for this post, GGC.
Here is a "non-statistic" I've heard a lot - very often those who want to victimize or abuse others are people who seek out women/children whom they think they can intimidate or manipulate through fear. I don't believe in instilling fear "for their safety" because I think teaching our children to be in constant fear can be crippling and used against them. I'd much rather my kids be aware and able to rationally (or intuitively) judge the safety of a given situation and get out if needed.

I've seen women, coworkers, friends, even strangers, be victimized. Victimized, intimidated as easily by, "Oh, god, that creepy guy keeps staring at me. No, no, don't look!" And what have I done in those situations? I've turned around and looked RIGHT AT THEM. And then THEY get nervous and they go away.

Fearlessness can be positive. Being afraid of them is the game the victimizers want to play.

(You know the most disturbing thing I felt about that video on Dutch's post was all the messages that the girls' sexuality belonged to someone other than themselves.)

Hot Mommy | 5:49 PM

I also wanted to add a thanks for this post. Fear is often bred from ignorance, we just need to supply our sons and daughters with confidence and knowledge. That might not protect them in the end, but for now they can be safe and happy little children. I don't want my 1 year old boy, and 3 year old girl to live afraid. I want them to be fearless happy, loved. I'll deal with whatever comes, until then my cup is half full.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 6:16 PM

TOTALLY, WG. Amen, Hot Mommy.

I was not only disgusted with the fact the girls do not "own" their own sexuality but the fact that "sitting on their father's laps for male love and attention" would take the place of having or WANTING a boyfriend... It's as if teenage girls DO NOT have hormones and just date boys for male attention. That women do not have sexual needs, desires and the want to experiment with boys. This is INSANE. FUCKED UP and WRONG. I imagine these girls will be the ones who grow up to be victims, because they will not know how to stick up for themselves or their sexuality. They will never know their power and/or control and thus they will be tackled by those who prey on the weak. (Which btw is every predator.)

Thanks for your thoughts. :)

Crunchy Carpets | 9:39 PM

I haven't read the other comments, nor the other post...

And since this is turning into a rant I will continue it on my blog if you don't mind!

the mad momma | 10:00 PM

Hi GGC,

I thought this kind of irrational fear only happened in my country. This education so steeped in ignorance. How can you teach a child to be afraid? Of anything? Awareness and fear are so totally different. And I think parents need to learn to walk that fine line instead of bringing up their children warped. Perhaps as mothers of boys we think differently but when I see my smiley, affentionate little 18 month old I can't believe that there is a mother out there teaching her daughter to fear him and have an unhealthy view on boys and sexuality... At the end of the day its their loss and their little girl's loss...
Great post...

Michelle | 6:14 AM

Thanks for that. I am not necessarily an overprotective mother, but I do have a lot of anxieties about sending my son away for Kindergarden next year, with them being exposed to SO much nowadays. But you are absolutely right.

It is up to us as parents to instill good morals, to teach our children HOW to make good choices, what to look for in identifying someone who isn't trustworthy, what is acceptable behavior, and to make sure there is a good level of communication.

My parents were NOT close to me, didn't talk with me about anything, and whenever I found myself in compromised situations, I had no clue how to deal with it. Because my parents weren't good listeners, I felt really uncomfortable telling them about things, so basically I kept secrets because I felt ashamed.

I think most importantly we need to be good listeners to our children and really help them to feel comfortable discussing things with us.

Penny | 5:11 PM

Positive Stat:

Only 20% of marriages between two Christians, who regularly attend church and participate in their faith ends in divorce.

Regardless of what one may think of religion, Christianity, attendance or faith.. it's a good statistic, relative to the secular one.

:)

Cheddarina | 10:42 PM

*Still cringing at purity ball.*

I'm totally gobsmacked. Those poor girls.

Domestic Slackstress | 11:17 PM

Speaking of calling Barbie a bitch, have you read Adios Barbie? I want my copy back from whomever I let borrow it for when my daughter's old enough.

jo | 5:12 AM

Thanks for this post - sometimes it seems people are afraid of life, it's good to hear from someone who embraces it.

SUEB0B | 6:04 AM

"How does a women who calls herself a "feminist" fear that her daughter will be victimized? Doesn't "feminism" rally behind the strength of women? Doesn't a feminist believe in her own strength as a woman? And that of her daughter as well?"

I think feminism is more about equality than fearlessness. Women and men should be raised to know that there are legitimate things to be careful of. They should also be prepared to defend themselves.

But as long as men are by far the ones more likely to kill, to rape, and to commit violent acts, both sexes should be made aware of that and learn to mitigate that fact - through being smart, through removing themselves from dangerous situations, through self-defense, and through being unafraid to report crimes against them.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 7:41 AM

I guess that's why I have never called myself a feminist. I (personally) don't feel like any less than equal to a man. And I think having less fear is directly responsible for feeling that way. Not to say there is a right or wrong way but I think you pinned it. I think feminism is more about equality which is why I will never call myself one. Equality seems to me the final destination but it seems to me in order to get there women need to work out so many of the fears we have developed over the generations.

lildb | 11:08 AM

yeah, man.

fear is bad.

life isn't.

Stargazer | 11:49 AM

I just came across this post now and I felt that I had to comment (as obviously many others have before me) I studied a lot of gender and sexuality issues in university and this just brings to mind many lectures I sat through. Anyway I just wanted to say that this was extremely well written and would deserve a place in some of the course guides I received. Bravo.

dietplaid | 8:05 PM

Okay, I know this is an old post, but I just read it and I think you've hit a chord. I've been married 4 months and people, strangers, are already trying to spread the fears! They want me to be afraid my husband will cheat on me, that if/when we have kids he won't be "present", and that our kids will have problems because we have tattoos and piercings. I'm noticing fear everywhere now and I just can't help but laugh, because what else can I do in the face of so much ridiculousness?

Anywho! Great post, good points :D