As a mother with a son, I follow various #boymom blogs and Twitter accounts. These optimistic moms (successful mom sites are either optimistic or sarcastic, negativity isn’t allowed) worry about rambunctiousness in school, messes, and high activity levels—so many little things that young boys do that society discourages. But those little things, they turn into big things.
As a writer I do a fair amount of reading on cultural trends. What I see scares me.
My son is an early-sprouting 11 year old. I noticed the change in how the general public perceives him about the time he overtook my height and his voice started deepening. Many, especially those without sons, see boys as inherently dangerous just for their Y chromosome. As my son starts to look like a man, I worry about him going to college, not that he would get in but that he would be allowed to stay. I worry about things that might stress him but that society will dismiss or ignore. I worry about him getting and staying married and possibly losing his children, not because he is a deadbeat, but because courts still assume mother care trumps everything.
Those with young sons haven’t felt these assumptions against all men yet. Those with older sons likely know them all too well. That all men are potential rapists is probably the worst, and the most popular. Some mothers of college age sons have formed an advocacy group to help young men with this blanket assumption. Still, men’s rapist potential gets the press.
This is an excerpt from a Rolling Stone interview with the author of a new book on rape culture, Asking for It. Since it is Rolling Stone, of course there is a kind of shill factor. The publication has no credibility—about anything, really, but about rape issues for certain. The book and the attitude it represents, however, are both real. From “America Has a Rape Problem—And Kate Harding Wants to Fix It”:
Is that what you mean when you say in the book that “every American boy is at risk of growing up to become a rapist”?
When I say that, I mean that American boys are all growing up in the same rape culture, so they’re growing up with this incredible sense of entitlement to women’s bodies. Boys are taught that sex is their right – it’s on demand, basically – and that girls will resist, and their job is to overcome that resistance. Instead of teaching them about respecting girls as fellow human beings, they’re taught that girls are sexual organs.
A culture that devalues girls and women gives social cover to people who want to rape. You don’t know which boy is going to be the one who says, “I’m going to go for it.”
America’s boys. Just a bunch of budding little rapists.
And I do wonder, what does the mother of the 15-year-old boy who was groomed and raped by his friend’s mother, a former NFL cheerleader who got 48 weekends of jail, think of that?
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