Thursday, 9 June 2016

To protect our daughters, we absolutely MUST educate our sons - A ReadItDaddy Editorial

So many things triggered this week's editorial. Raging angry tweets from a repentant dad describing how a culture of 'bants' and braggardly locker-room sexism continuously leads boys and men to consider the sexist treatment of women acceptable (and, ugh, harmless) normal everyday behaviour.

His impassioned tweets were thought provoking. Not least of all because the man had a daughter, and realised that at some point in her life she would be on the receiving end of such behaviour herself.

The other trigger was being the only male at a female-only table at a pub, listening to mums talking about their own fears of walking down a street - even in broad daylight and the fears they had for their own daughters.

Needless to say, these things strike a chord with me. A dad, writing a book blog with my daughter who is the apple of my eye and from the moment she screamed at the top of her lungs when she popped out of her mum, I swore to do everything in my power to look after her, care for her and nurture her.

Naturally there's only so much you can do to bring up your daughter to be strong, wary, worldly-wise and non-accepting of any sexist behaviour but the real effort is in educating our sons, not our daughters, to buck a trend and become a stereotype that has existed for far, far too long.

On a daily basis, I see women being harassed, getting unwanted attention, having to deal with 'harmless' flirting from men who have absolutely no idea what wretched arsehats they're being (apologies, I will try to keep my language under control). On one hand it's pathetic watching these idiots somehow dream their way through life believing that they're some sort of 'catch'. On the other hand it's menacing, because there's absolutely no doubt that men like this still hold a belief that it's a fine, fine way to assert their measly level of power over women, who are intelligent and wary enough not to respond.

Listening to the mum's anecdotes was spine chilling - more so than reading the tweets from the guy mentioned at the top of this article as these were people I know, kids I know. I sat silently listening, feeling like I needed to interject to apologise at every given opportunity for being male but too terrified to do so.

What can be done? Where can you start to tackle such a gigantic and all-encompassing problem that stems from childhood behaviour not addressed or discussed, that continues to grow like some festering rot, that leeches into practically everything that has impact and influence on our daily lives?

It has to start with boys - there is absolutely no reason why mums and dads cannot raise children who understand what it means to treat everyone with respect and as an equal. There is no excuse for that sleeveless beer-gut sexist caricature of the male species to continue to exist this far into the 21st century, no more than it was acceptable for that caricature to exist beyond the last few decades of the 20th. We see so many cases where fervent denial is quite often followed by aggression whenever high profile examples of everyday sexism become loud enough to hit the press or the media.

I've never understood the mentality of someone who thinks that they're somehow being charming by being overtly (and quite often sexually) threatening to someone they perceive as 'weaker' or an easy target. It disgusts me just as much as it disgusted the guy and the mums who inspired this blog post. Teach your sons that the modern world has no place for this crap any more.