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How to teach young boys about respect for women

(17 Posts)
VicarageRoar Mon 04-Dec-17 10:32:59

Ds is 10(y5) - he knows the facts of life and is still at the stage of saying anything to do with 'romance' is gross, but last night when he was drying himself after his shower he said to younger ds that he was polishing his knob. I asked where he had heard that said and he said the playground. I said he mustn't say it because it's very disrespectful, but I couldn't explain why without going into a whole lot of details that I wasn't sure would be appropriate or helpful at his age, so I had to leave it just saying it's something that you must not say.

I'm worried generally because of the awful climate he is growing up in, about him developing a lack of respect for girls/women and their wishes. He is particularly vulnerable because his dad was abusive to me, and massively misogynistic and disrespectful. His dad raped me more than once. Obv ds is not aware of that, but that shows the type of influence that he has grown up with, and still is under when he has contact.

Am I over reacting to this comment? Should I address it in some other way? If so how? We talk regularly about the need to respect other people's bodies and never do anything to anyone that they have not agreed to (mainly in context of sibling fights but also specifically about which parts are private etc). I have talked to him about male privilege a little bit.

I want to do the right thing but I'm not sure how?

CaptainWarbeck Mon 04-Dec-17 10:51:22

thanks for you, and good on you for getting away from his dad. That alone will have taught him that you are worth more than that kind of misogynistic treatment.

I don't have much useful advice because my DS is only 2, but respect for women and male privilege is something I worry about too.

Keep talking to him, I don't think you're over reacting. It sounds like you're already talking about consent in an age appropriate way which is great. At the age of 10, I know it sounds early, but I'd be thinking about starting to talk to him about porn, as kids will start being exposed to it through peers around 11. I will want my son to know that porn is not what normal sex is like.

It's hard to navigate this stuff isn't it.

PricklyBall Mon 04-Dec-17 12:05:04

More flowers

I think kind of come up with a mental list of "where does this rank?"

So, stuff that is genuinely personally disrespectful to you - absolute zero tolerance. That gets knocked down hard and fast.

Stuff that is part of a wider culture of disrespecting women - talk through why it is disrespectful and inappropriate. Sadly, this may lead to discussions straying into territory you don't want (I have a son a similar age) because you don't want to prematurely sexualise them. However, we live in a porn-saturated society and society is already exposing them to this stuff, so you have to be open and prepared to talk about stuff.

We had the facts of life talk a few years back, so I try to go with "sex should be about love and respect and mutual enjoyment - so if a description/ representation/ turn of phrase is falling short of this standard, it is wrong."

Also, don't be afraid of saying "you are too young to be thinking about/discussing this yet. There are some things that are only appropriate for adults, and this is one of them."

GuardianLions Mon 04-Dec-17 12:15:59

I agree with the above posters..I don't have a son of that age but I do have a nephew, and I think it is important to not seem like you are 'telling off', more opening a discussion.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Mon 04-Dec-17 13:48:55

It seems a very sexualised thing for a 10 year old to say.

VicarageRoar Mon 04-Dec-17 14:34:39

Thank you, I think you all get my concern. I feel like I have to address it but not sure how to without prematurely sexualising him.

It is an overly sexual thing for him to say which is why it rang my alarm bells (aside from it just being a horrible disrespectful turn of phrase ime).
Although I suppose if he's just heard it said and to him he was drying himself so in the way he used it it wasn't sexualised. I think I will bring it up with school - but tbh realistically no one can stop other boys in the playground repeating stuff, so I would prefer to focus on equipping him to deal with all the shit he will encounter in the world. prickly I like that as a simple message that can be used for him to evaluate things he may come across.

BarbarianMum Tue 05-Dec-17 21:58:46

It's not a nice turn of phrase but who exactly was he "disrespecting"? You (who were evesdropping), his brother, hinself, his penis?

I agree with lion. If you want to guide him you need him to be able to open up to you about sex and the like. Not shutting him down by saying he's "too young to think about that".

LassWiTheDelicateAir Tue 05-Dec-17 22:08:26

It's not a nice turn of phrase but who exactly was he "disrespecting"? You (who were evesdropping), his brother, hinself, his penis?

I didn't get that point either. It is a vulgar expression I would not want to hear , especially from a 10 year old but I don't see an connection with respecting women.

VicarageRoar Tue 05-Dec-17 22:43:51

I wasn't eavesdropping - I was in the room bathing smaller ds.

I guess it comes from my personal experience - I've never heard the phrase used in anything other than a derogatory way.

BarbarianMum Tue 05-Dec-17 22:53:39

It's a slang term for masturbation. Which is not derogatory but inappropriate for use in front of your mum/little brother.

Was he using it to mean masturbate, or was he just repeating a phrase he's heard in the playground and doesn't fully understand?

VicarageRoar Tue 05-Dec-17 23:18:51

Oh, I've only ever heard it used in contexts such as 'come here and polish my knob bitch' (yup - his dad was a charmer). Perhaps I'm naive, I wasn't aware of it meaning masturbation.

VicarageRoar Tue 05-Dec-17 23:22:26

He was using to mean he was drying his privates - I think he was just repeating something he's heard in the playground in what seemed to be a way that would make sense to him (i.e. A non sexual way) - but clearly he is being exposed to more sexualised talk amongst his peers, so now is the time for me to start thinking about some slightly more sophisticated messages than just where babies come from, which he has known for some time.

Redcliff Tue 05-Dec-17 23:50:29

Its so tough isn't it - I also have a 10 year old boy and we have had some interesting discussions. They did a lesson on relationships at school at that was a great enabler as is the odd thing that we have seen on TV.

I remember as a teen using phrases I had heard at school with no clue what they meant so I think this is a similar thing. Good luck

Bumbelinadance Wed 06-Dec-17 00:13:24

Please forgive if I am writing weakly over something so important
Late , work tmrw etc

But find this thread really interesting and wish to bump

Remarkably similar circumstances to you op minus rape which if I knew the icon as a new poster for I would send bunches Of flowers 🌺You are amazing and I am so sorry you suffered this

Have Ds 11
Only child
No contact for year with extremely misogynistic father I divorced years ago
Interestingly by Ds own choice as a result of abuse shown to his former stepmother ( he was a baby when I left his dad and doesn't remember It towards me I think )

What is " interesting " to me is that I am finding Ds is very respectful and protective of grown up women ( myself , my mother , freinds , teachers and aunts etc " but seems at best immune to and at times quiet disrespectful of girls his age ( class mates etc )

He goes to a typical state junior school currently doing sex education . I was interested to know what this covered so asked to discuss with deputy head ( I don't usually interfere too much but genuinely wanted to know as Ds has mild asd so often need to support curriculum at home )

It surprised me how little emphasis there was on
1. Relationships
2. Pornagraphy
3. Gender

Whilst I think my sons school is great I don't feel he got anything other than a biological representation which to be honest he knew already

QuentinSummers Wed 06-Dec-17 07:24:07

My strategy for dealing with this kind of stuff is to stay calm but make DS talk about it at length and the implications of it, what does he think girls think about it etc.
It serves 2 purposes : 1) hopefully he thinks through why he's being an idiot and 2) it's really embarrassing for him so hopefully acts as a punishment without me being disapproving of sex etc.

flowers op. It's really hard bringing up boys in today's porn soaked climate, they think saying all sorts is just normal plans ok. And Yes, they hear it in the playground. It's infuriating.

tendergreenbean Thu 07-Dec-17 16:36:30

IME encouraging boys to have respect for girls leads them to resent the "special treatment" they believe (rightly or wrongly) the girls are getting. This only leads to them having less respect for them, as they think they're being awarded something they are not. They shouldn't respect a girl because she's a girl, they should respect everybody because it's the decent thing to do (and usually, the respect is returned so it's beneficial for all).

Teach respect in general, not respect to certain groups.
Teach male and female children alike to counter any criticism or disrespect as they see fit, and give them the emotional and educational tools to feel confident in doing so.
It is a disservice to all children to try and protect them from unfairness, leaving them without the moral fibre and hardiness required to deal with the unpleasantness of adult life.

If feminism is about gender equality, realise this by giving boys and girls an equal education on respecting everybody.

tendergreenbean Thu 07-Dec-17 16:49:25

When you say yourself your son is particularly vulnerable, I don't think you should be talking to him about "male privilege". He certainly won't be feeling privileged, and will make him feel demonised by his masculinity.

I don't say this to be goady OP, I really do feel for you, nobody should be through what you've been through flowers

I just honestly don't believe making young boys feel guilty (and I know this isn't your intention) for being boys will make them respect women any more.
Respect for others and self respect are probably the most important qualities you can instill in your child.

Maybe approach respect in an unloaded way. Lead by example, pointing out when you're being respectful, and when people aren't respectful to you letting him know how it makes you feel.
Let him see how nice it feels to know you've been respectful and kind. Everyone suffers disrespect, leave gender out of it or it only minimises his feelings when he hasn't been respected himself.

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