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16 y/o DS and NAMALT!

(46 Posts)
FeedMeAndTellMeImPretty Fri 02-Sep-16 12:19:06

I've always had quite in depth discussions with my DCs about issues that affect us all. I consider my oldest DS to be a feminist, he is not on board with the objectification and sexism we see all around us, he has a lovely GF, of whom he is very respectful etc.

However, lately he seems to have adopted a NAMALT stance whenever we talk about things that affect women adversely and I don't know how to talk to him with appearing to attack his entire gender.

As an example we were talking about trans people in women only spaces such as refuges.

His take was that there should be no such place as a women only space, that women shouldn't tar all men with the same brush, that we would never be allowed a 'whites only' refuge because someone happened to have been assaulted by a black person or vice versa, so why are we allowed to keep all men out of a safe space for women because the person who attacked them happened to be a man.

He complained that there are no 'men only' refuges for male victims of DV ( I said that if men had seen a need for such refuges they could have built them, but that statistically women are far more likely to need protection from violent men than vice versa).

How do I talk to him about this without seeming like I hate and distrust all men? He knows that I was strangled and hit by a previous partner (not his dad, who was very gentle and non-threatening, but emotionally distant, much like him!)

I know these statistics don't prove that ALL men are a danger, but how can I kindly point out that there is a discrepancy because there needs to be one?

scallopsrgreat Fri 02-Sep-16 12:30:21

Well his logic of 'white-only spaces' being analogous with 'female-only spaces' is completely flawed. White people have never been oppressed by black people. Women are oppressed by men. So he's comparing a space for oppressors with a space for oppressed.

However, tbh it sounds like he really doesn't think men oppress women. Just a few men do nasty things to a few women randomly that may be a little bit more than the other way around. He doesn't seem to grasp that society is designed and structured to support the hierarchy of male supremacy (or white supremacy for that matter) and that's why spaces for those oppressed are so important.

scallopsrgreat Fri 02-Sep-16 12:32:47

But I'm stunned that from a safety perspective he cannot see why men should not be allowed in women's refuges. Can he really not see how manipulative and determined abusive men can be to get into these spaces? Can he really not see how women in these refuges would be frightened of men?

booklooker Fri 02-Sep-16 12:54:41

Well his logic of 'white-only spaces' being analogous with 'female-only spaces' is completely flawed. White people have never been oppressed by black people. Women are oppressed by men. So he's comparing a space for oppressors with a space for oppressed.

This is a good point. But it then opens up the question of 'black-only spaces' as they have certainly been oppressed.

Please don't get me wrong, I have no problem with Women's refuges and fully support their need.

scallopsrgreat Fri 02-Sep-16 13:13:10

What would be wrong with black only spaces?

ChocChocPorridge Fri 02-Sep-16 13:21:54

Can he imagine if he was bunked in a room with members of a professional rugby team (ie. a fair bit bigger and stronger than him) - now most of that team would be completely fine, but even without trying, they would be intimidating, they would take up space, etc.

That's how it is for women in the company of men - they're generally bigger and stronger than us, and, we're aware that should it kick off, we wouldn't stand a chance, that's why sharing a dorm with men is a problem

Now imagine that he'd been bullied by rugby players, and he was still expected to share that room. Imagine that there's nothing he could do about that, and that if he complained he was scared, he would be the one put out of the shelter? Imagine if there was a shelter across the way that accepted rugby players, but that player particularly wanted to be bunked with smaller people because he liked it.

I've probably stretched that analogy as far as it can go (and I will emphasise I have nothing against rugby players - DP was one - I just use them as an example of a group of larger than normal people).

Women not only have the size, and the intimidation, but they can be raped and got pregnant, they often have kids, and because of those kids are greatly restricted in their earning potential so have no-where else to go (unlike the single rugby players - OK I'll stop that now), they have all this stuff stacked against them, and by making them share with men, you're just adding one more risk and stressor.

booklooker Fri 02-Sep-16 13:44:29

What would be wrong with black only spaces?

I didn't mean to imply there was anything wrong, I haven't thought it through.

scallopsrgreat Fri 02-Sep-16 13:57:02

OK sorry - misunderstood smile

vesuvia Fri 02-Sep-16 14:14:47

FeedMeAndTellMeImPretty wrote - "He complained that there are no 'men only' refuges for male victims of DV"

Your son is actually wrong on this point. There are men-only refuges for male victims of domestic violence. There are also refuges set up initially for women by women, which now offer refuge places to men.

More thorough evidence gathering may help him challenge his own initial opinions about men/women equality issues. I think a problem for most teenage boys and also men is that much of female experience is hidden from them for various reasons, often because of silencing of women by men. Many men and boys often use this absence of evidence as evidence of absence.

Perhaps the everydaysexism.com website could help you to help your DS become more aware of the scale of sexism that remains largely hidden from men and boys by their shield of male privilege. The website has thousands of personal testimonies from women and girls describing the sexism experiences in their daily lives. There is also a collection of website extracts in book form now "Everyday Sexism" by Laura Bates.

Perhaps you can find some age-appropriate and topic-appropriate examples from these resources to share and discuss with your DS. This may not overcome his NAMALT ("not all men are like that") habit but it may at least help raise his awareness that, in many women/men equality situations, "more men are like that" than he may currently assume.

Bitofacow Fri 02-Sep-16 15:41:42

This is the crux of many issues the sexes just don't 'get' the experiences of the other sex. Also, he is right not all men are like that. Praise his positive views before pointing out where society has issues. Being overly negative about men will only push him in a corner.
Ask him questions rather than telling him what you think. Lead him to conclusions rather than explaining them to him. If he can work through issues himself he will probably reach similar conclusions to you in the end.

Backingvocals Fri 02-Sep-16 15:56:31

I think also you should bear in mind he is still a child and not in a position of power. It's hard for him to see that the adults around him are not viewed equally - he is junior to everyone and I imagine that to him it seems that all adults are in positions of power.

As a teenager I thought the world would treat me equally and it was quite a shock to discover that was not the case.

He probably also thinks that male physical superiority is a theoretical not an actual problem to women. As it should be. But the fact is I don't know any women who haven't been sexually assaulted at some point in their life - whether 'just' flashed at or groped or worse. No reason he should know that at his age but he probably should be made aware of the prevalence of these crimes against women - so prevalent they barely get talked about as it is just seen as the norm.

OneFlewOverTheDodosNest Fri 02-Sep-16 16:02:03

To use another analogy - imagine instead of being raped, someone had been bitten very nastily by a dog. So they went to a centre to recover from the dog attack and whilst there someone comes in with a big, strong dog.

This person swears that their dog is lovely and kind and that it's unfair to prevent their dog from staying there because NADALT. Does it make any difference to the dog attack victim? Is it fair to make a dog attack victim share a space with this dog when they're supposed to be recovering? If the owner of dog got really aggressive about being entitled to the same space as the dog attack victim, would you trust them when they vouched for their dog?

It's funny because if I tell people I was bitten by a dog then they'd understand why I can be nervous around dogs I don't know. And yet, if I ever got the courage to tell someone I was raped, I can guarantee I'd get NAMALT.

deydododatdodontdeydo Fri 02-Sep-16 16:11:29

Interesting analogy One, because people do use the "oh, my dog isn't like that" line all the time.

Feed, sounds like your son has been brought up well, but is (hopefully) a little confused (--along with a lot of trans activists--). Giving him the benefit of the doubt, perhaps in his attempts to not prejudge, generalise and "tar with the same brush" - generally seen as a good trait - he's not seeing it from the victim's side. True, not all men and certainly not a particular individual man are responsible for abusing a woman who wants a safe space, but so what? The victim wants a safe space.
Perhaps he's taken the "things should be equal" message to heart and is applying it in situations when things really aren't equal.

Backingvocals Fri 02-Sep-16 17:17:04

Also a more positive way for him to approach this would be 'all men can help make a better world for everyone'. I think the male privilege thing is very challenging and not always helpful. Cis privilege as a concept makes me furious. I think privilege as a whole is not the way to build understanding. Feminism as a way to help everyone get a better deal is more appealing than the common interpretation of it where it's those mean women being horrid about men

vesuvia Fri 02-Sep-16 17:42:48

Backingvocals wrote - "Feminism as a way to help everyone get a better deal is more appealing than the common interpretation of it where it's those mean women being horrid about men"

Women and girls deserve liberation from male-dominated patriarchal oppression because it should be our unconditional human right, without the need to link it to anything else. Women's liberation should not depend on men (the oppressor sex class) deriving benefit for themselves. Liberation on the oppressor's terms is not liberation.

Shallishanti Fri 02-Sep-16 17:54:06

give the boy a break
he's only 16 and from the sound of it has a better grasp of gender issues than most men, maybe even than a lot of women
also, he's growing up to be a man- naturally he doesn't want to believe AMALT because what does that say about him?
make sure he has plenty of positive male role models (even point them out on TV etc if they aren't available IRL)
I think the dog/rugby player analogies are good and can be put to him as a thought experiment- don't get drawn into pointscoring debate, he will hate losing and may become entrenched- he's a teenager!

Backingvocals Fri 02-Sep-16 18:16:58

Ok but I don't think telling a nice 16 year old that he's part of the oppressor sex class is really going to help any of us in the long run.

vesuvia Fri 02-Sep-16 18:50:27

I'm not suggesting to the OP that she should tell her DS that he is part of the oppressor class. I was addressing my comment about that to you, Backingvocals.

If the OP tells her DS (based on your suggestion) something along the lines of: "if women and girls obtain more equality then men and boys will have a nicer life", I think that sends a message that equality is conditional. I think that is problematic.

Backingvocals Fri 02-Sep-16 18:55:57

I think it's problematic expecting a young boy to make this leap (one I couldn't make as a feminist girl of a feminist mother ) without letting him know that his needs are important too - it's just that history has ignored the needs of women.

TheGhostOfTroubledJoe Fri 02-Sep-16 19:27:40

The charity Mankind have been campaigning for male victims of domestic violence since 2001. From their latest briefing -

' Despite 500,000 men suffering from partner abuse every year and 36% of male victims living in a household with children and another adult(s), there are only 19 organisations offer refuge or safe house provision for male victims in the UK - a total of 78 spaces. Of these spaces, only20
are dedicated to male victims of domestic abuse (the rest being for victims of either gender).
 There is a considerable shortage of emergency refuge/safe house provision for male victims of domestic abuse including those with children, in proportion to the numbers of male victims (with or without children).'

It doesn't state how many of these spaces are men only but it would seem sensible. Even if these men only spaces don't exist at present I think we will see them in the near future.

FeedMeAndTellMeImPretty Fri 02-Sep-16 19:33:46

Choc choc love the rugby player analogy, something he could definitely relate to as he is quite slight and different looking so he gets his fair share of negative and intimidating attention.

Vesuvia thank you, I will try to find some more balanced views about refuges etc.

FeedMeAndTellMeImPretty Fri 02-Sep-16 19:38:55

Thank you all for your comments. Much appreciated. You're right, he is a good kid and I'm lucky to be able to have these sorts of conversations with him so I don't want to put him off by making him think that I have something against men generally.

It's a difficult concept - one I've struggled with when talking to DP too - so not surprising it is causing us some disagreements. I will try to keep it light hearted and positive rather than lecturing him.

FeedMeAndTellMeImPretty Fri 02-Sep-16 19:40:28

Love the dog analogy too. Very helpful.

RiverTam Fri 02-Sep-16 19:40:51

For a start I'd tell him that there is nothing liberal about a man telling women how they should think or feel about issues that affect only them, or disproportionately affect them. Nothing.

midcenturymodern Fri 02-Sep-16 19:56:04

What about schrodinger's rapist?

He does seem to be seeing male violence against women and girls as a serious of isolated incidents. Understandable as domestic homicide is usually reported as 'an isolated incident'. Karen Ingala Smith is good on isolated incidents and femicide generally. kareningalasmith.com/2014/02/24/there-are-a-lot-of-isolated-incidents-around/

Personally I don't think men, any men, should dictate whether women are entitled to women only spaces. It's not their call. They have no skin in the game. I find men who think this about women only spaces are often fine about other oppressed or minority groups having spaces. It's rather telling.

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