Things Mothers should tell their Sons about Women

Boys get a lot of damaging and contradictory messages about women from the media and from society. For mothers, it is crucially important to directly address some of these messages in order to raise boys who turn into men of character. There are a few basic ideas about women that you can teach your son, to help him become a man you can be proud of.

Some of these messages are most appropriate when they reach their teen years, but some can be taught as young as pre-school.

Women are human beings in the exact same way that you are a human being.

Children, to one extent or another, have trouble believing and understanding that others are complex and nuanced individuals in the same way that they are. The gender dichotomy of modern society makes the gap between boy and girl and man and woman seem an even wider gap. Girls are seen as something almost alien and un-knowable, when in reality, they have the same thoughts and ambitions and worries that boys have. This basic idea that all people are the same kind of person that you are can, on its own, help to promote empathy and moral behaviour.

“Girl” is not an insult.

Explain that it is inappropriate to use phrases like, “throws like a girl” or “runs like a girl” to shame and denigrate their male peers. Being a girl is not a lesser state of being, and using it as an insult among your male friends shows a lack of respect for women as complex human beings.

Women do not exist for your benefit.

Boys grow up with women in serving roles much of the time. Their mothers bring them food and clean up after them. If they go to a hospital, the nurses are primarily female. They are served by women in aeroplanes and restaurants. Boys need to understand that just because some women choose to serve them, that does not mean that a purpose of a woman is to serve them.

Boys who think that women are servants grow into the kind of men who make jokes about women belonging in the kitchen and who become angry if a woman turns down their sexual advances. They need to be taught that they are not entitled to the attention of any woman, ever. Who a woman gives her attention to is her own business and hers alone.

A woman’s body is not public property.

Any woman has the right, as an autonomous human being, to wear what she wants, eat what she wants, and have sex with who she wants, without having to hear commentary from strangers about it. If a woman wants to cover a lot of skin, or practically none, that is her own business. You have no right to comment on it. If a woman is “too fat”, “too thin” or “wearing too much make-up” that is also none of your business. Women are not decorative objects. They are people.

There is no such thing as the “friendzone”.

Don’t be the kind of man who gets angry and rants about being “friendzoned” when a woman doesn’t want a sexual relationship with you. Remember that she is a human being with the right to decide who she gives her attention to. If you get angry about being “friendzoned” that is a symptom that you were viewing her as nothing more than a hole to have sex with, and not as a complex human being to try to know and understand.

Women are entitled to be friendly and to smile at someone, without the automatic assumption that they want to have sex. Women are entitled to express an interest in a person – as a person – without the assumption that it’s a mating signal.

Forcing a woman to engage in sexual activity that she does not want is rape.

When a woman says “no” or “stop” or “this is going too fast” or pushes you away, she is not giving her consent for sex. If you push past that and have sex with her anyway, you are a rapist. It doesn’t matter what she was wearing. It doesn’t matter how much she flirted with you earlier in the evening. It doesn’t matter how many other men she’s had sex with in the past. It doesn’t matter if it is the third, sixth or twentieth date, and you’ve paid for dinner every time. It doesn’t even matter if you are married to her and it is your tenth anniversary. If she does not consent, it is rape.

Women are afraid of you.

To every woman you meet in the street, you are a potential rapist or a potential attacker until you have gotten to know her and proven otherwise. Remember this when you try to talk to a woman on the street or in a bar. If she seems uncomfortable, back off. If she turns away and doesn’t respond to you, she probably feels threatened, and it is time for you to back off. It is estimated that one in every four women has been raped or sexually assaulted or abused. Women have every right to be vigilant and to push away any man that feels threatening to them. You do not have the right to force the issue.