One thing we've learned from the hearing: Parents need to teach boys not to disrespect or sexually assault girls

One thing we've learned from the hearing: Parents need to teach boys not to disrespect or sexually assault girls

This is not about the accusations made against Judge Brett Kavanaugh nor directly about the hearing. While I have my opinions about all of it, I won't express them here. For now, I’ll leave that job to others.

The hearing, along with Trump's ridiculous tweets questioning why Christine Blasey Ford didn't report the attack immediately, and the #MeToo movement, in general, has led me to ask one critical question:

Why, all these years, has it been acceptable for boys and young men to bully, belittle, disrespect and sexually harass or assault girls?

Why have we given boys a hall pass because, well, they're boys? Of course, not all boys are guilty, but enough of them are that many, many women are now telling their stories.

Think about the lame excuses/cliches/platitudes we've heard when we find out that a man has done a despicable act to a female when he was a boy.

"He was young. He didn't know better."

"He was drinking. All teenagers drink."

"Boys will be boys." 

"They have raging hormones. They can't help themselves."

"Boys have to sow their wild oats."

If we are aghast by grown men doing sexually inappropriate/immoral/violent/illegal things to women, why has it been OK (or at least tolerated) for boys to do them?

Among my Facebook friends and fellow bloggers, women are coming out of the closet in mass to talk about why they have not opened up previously about having been sexually assaulted when they were younger.

They said they were embarrassed. Ashamed. They thought they'd get in trouble. Or wouldn’t be believed. Yes, their answers were similar. And totally understandable, I might add, especially to those of us who are in the #MeToo club, a club we never wanted to be a member of.

Now the floodgates have opened. Women are talking about specific incidents when they were used by boys and young men for their sexual amusement.

Just when many of us thought we were alone with our dirty little secrets, we're learning we're not. Women in my social media circle report:

Having had a relative grind his genitals into hers when she was a teenager.

Being slipped a date-rape drug.

Being grabbed and kissed in a sexual manner by her father's friend.

Being mauled by a college professor.

Tribune writer Alison Bowen wrote an op-ed piece  about being groped by a stranger while walking along Michigan Avenue.

Me? I wrote about several occurrences in a piece that appeared on Huffington Post, including the time I was pinned down on my bed by an acquaintance and feared being raped. Like Blasey Ford, my would-be rapist was drunk and, in my case, too drunk to do more.

Men have mostly remained mute about the subject. In a way, I get it. The few who have spoken out have been viciously attacked on Twitter and Facebook. Who wants that?

But I'd really like to understand why some men felt (feel) entitled to do these creepy, horrible things to girls and women. Are boys and men mere animals who can't control their urges (similar to Beau, my family's long-gone toy poodle, who used to hump anyone and everything in sight)?

Some religions seem to think so, requiring females to cover up in the presence of men other than their husbands--as if a woman donning ordinary street clothes might incite a man to do who-knows-what.

Maybe if we nip it in the bud, male bad behavior against girls and women will become rare, unusual occurrences instead of what we now know has been something many of us have experienced.

Parents: Even if your boys are sweet, kind, virtuous beings, you need to engage in real, honest conversations with them about the importance of treating females with respect. About the fact that no means no. About how kids need they to be upstanders instead of bystanders if another boy does or says something they know is wrong to a girl.

Have you had a talk with your boys about it? If you haven't, there's never been a better time to begin. I say begin the conversation because I see it as something ongoing and age-appropriate throughout your boys' childhood and young manhood.

If not for the sake and safety of girls and women everywhere, boys need to know that there are consequences to doing evil things to females.

Sadly, things are not going to change on a grand scale today or even tomorrow. But change, yes, it's a-coming.  Because we're not going to shut up. Because we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore. Males, consider yourselves warned: The floodgates have opened.

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  • I was sodomized as a seven-year old by a male friend of the family. It was over 50 years ago. I've written about it in these pages. I remember every damned detail, including how his mother beat me before I could leave. I know how I got there and how I got home. I know where he is today. Dan, in, Phoenix, yes I do know.

    This is to say that I would not have any fuzzy memories. I would be accusing the right man.

    The second lesson we learn from this is that a man is now guilty until proven innocent. The Senators words, not mine. So parents can teach their boys the right behavior but it won't matter if a women might be mistaken. Or lies. Like Emit Till's accuser lied.

  • Thanks for sharing your story, Richard.

  • Until men of my generation make amends they will live forever under a cloud of shame. My post this week is very much aligned with yours.

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