A New Dad Asks, If Male Violence Is the Biggest Threat to Women—How Do I Raise a Kind Son?
an article by Christopher Zumski Finke, for Yes! Magazine (slightly abridged)
The idea of having a baby boy scared me: What kind
of man will he grow up to be? Here’s what I learned
about what it takes to raise compassionate men.
photo by Kate Hisock
click on photo to enlarge
My wife and I brought home Rhodes, our first
child, four months ago. Here's what I remember
most about those first weeks: the smell of his
skin and breath as he slept on my chest in our bed
—small, warm, and fragile, like an egg. I breathed
in the scent of the newest life I’d ever
encountered as he slept.
He wasn’t undersized, but still I marveled at how
tiny these newest of humans come. We, the most
dominating creatures on Earth, start out so
helpless and red and beautiful. I knew, as he lay
curled against my heart, that I would do anything
to protect him, love him, and bring him up right
in the world.
We've created a world of great beauty as well as
great terror. Would I rather send a young man into
it, or a young woman?
Last month, four men in India were sentenced to
death for a rape and murder of such brutality it
can scarcely be believed. The week prior, four
Vanderbilt University football players were
charged with raping an unconscious woman (much
like last year's events in Steubenville, Ohio).
And during the previous spring, just before Rhodes
was born, Ariel Castro was arrested in Cleveland
for imprisoning three women—kidnapped as young
girls—in his house for ten years.
These and similar stories constantly fill our
network news, cable opinion shows, newspapers,
social media, blogs... It's nearly impossible to
avoid stories of violence, rape, and domination.
Living rightly is hard enough on your own, and now
I must raise a son to do so in a world that is, in
part, characterized by men's violence against
women . . .
"It’s endemic." That's Ed Heisler, executive
director of Men as Peacemakers, speaking about the
statistics on sexual violence and domestic abuse . .
Men as Peacemakers was founded in Duluth, Minn.,
after the community was rocked by a series of
murders committed by men in the 1990s. When
citizens gathered to discuss addressing violence
in their city, most of them were women. This
concerned some of the men in the community, who
convened a retreat with 55 men from the area to
discuss their roles and responsibilities when it
came to alleviating violence. One of the
initiatives born of the meeting was Men as
Peacemakers, whose mission is to teach men and
boys that there are alternatives to violence, and
that violence is unacceptable.
I had called Heisler with an honest question: How do
I raise my son to be a man who will do his part,
too, to change the social environment that
[Note: Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter
for this article.]
(This article is continued in the discussionboard)
Question(s) related to this article:
What role should men play to stop violence against women?,
* * * * *
LATEST READER COMMENT:
No More Steubenvilles: How To Raise Boys to be Kind Men
What can we do to help young men respect women, recognize consent, and have healthy sexual relationships? Teach them kindness to others—and the courage to go against the crowd.
by Kim Simon
posted Mar 18, 2013
When Max was just a few months old, I sat cross-legged on the floor with him in a circle of other mothers. The facilitator for our “Mommy and Me” playgroup would throw a question out to the group, and we would each volley back an answer.
“What quality do you want to instill in your child? What personality characteristic would you most like for your son to be known for?” she asked.
One by one, the mothers answered. “Athletic”, “Good sense of humor”, “Brave”, “Smart”, “Strong”.
The answers blended together until it was my turn to speak. I looked down at the tiny human wiggling around on the blanket in front of me, his perfectly round nose, his full lips that mirrored mine. I stroked the top of his very bald head, and said with confidence: “kind”.
I want my son to grow up to be kind.
The eyes of the other mothers turned toward me. “That’s not always a word that you hear used for boys” one said. “But yes, you’re right … so I guess, me too”. At the end of the day, we wanted our tiny, fragile, helpless baby boys to grow up to be kind. . ...more.