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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

at what age does 'no' really start to mean no? primary school 'dilemma'...

53 replies

bejeezus · 24/06/2012 18:32

was having a chat today with dd1 (7 year old) today about this and that. earlier in the day, another mum had asked her if she had a boyfriend and she had become all embarrassed and not answered. she said, she wanted to tell me now, about her boyfriend situation (Hmm Grin)..

she said this boy in her class had tried to kiss her hand whilst she wasnt looking; and when she had realised what he was doing she had pulled her hand away really quickly. I told her that boys should only be kissing her if she wanted them too. I said you kiss with someone, it isnt something you do TO someone and both people must be willing. She said that she had been 'terrified' when it happened!. So i went on to say that if she didnt like what someone was doing to her then she should ask them to stop....and if they didnt stop, she should......thump them in the face. And tell me, obviously

Grin so i am sure you can read between the lines and see that i was in my head, having this conversation with her 15 year old self about something more than kissing........

i know they are only 7 yo and it is all innocent and non-sexual, and that being 'terrified' by being kissed on the hand is a complete 7yo over reaction. and that thumping a 7 yo admirer in the nose would be considered by most, an over reaction also (particularly probably the parents of said admirer)

but i cant start giving her messages such as 'oh hes only playing' 'its just a kiss' 'boys do that' etc etc...its the start of the insidious rot isnt it???

she likes the boy and is friends with him btw...they play together

its a bit of a feminist aibu? Grin

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SDTGisAnEvilWolefGenius · 24/06/2012 18:36

YANBU to tell her that no-one should touch her without her permission - I told my boys something similar when they were that age. I didn't tell them to thump someone in the face, though.

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SweetGrapes · 24/06/2012 18:42

7 is fine to start this. Ds is 6 and I have been trying to drill the message in for a year so far. He plays with his friends, sister, baby brother etc and gets carried away and has trouble stopping playing. He wants to keep playing and ignores the fact that sister is not happy/baby is crying/friend doesn't like it etc.
It's the same thing isn't it? A sense of entitlement that comes from god knows where genes ?? He's very god natured and has loads of friends loves playing the clown for everyone but does have trouble stopping when he doesn't want to. Rough and tumble mostly.
Also teaching him about bobily integrity stuff - don't let anyone else touch you kind of thing.

If you tell dd it doesn't matter - then that's going to get translated through to other situations. If ds does this to anyone and she thumps him for it - I would think it's a lesson well learnt.

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SweetGrapes · 24/06/2012 18:43

god natured Hmm
good natured also

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bejeezus · 24/06/2012 19:03

sdt yeah, the thumping thing....I was thinking i didn't want to tell her she must wait until after the event and go and tell someone.....I want het yo know its ok to defend herself

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Wheezo · 24/06/2012 19:10

Gosh this just reminded me when I was 7 or 8 getting really told off at school for winding a boy because I had been caught during It and he had tried to kiss me (or more like lick my mouth yuk) - I hadn't meant to push him off me so hard and I was sorry that I'd hurt him (at that age I was taller than most boys in our class) - But in retrospect I remember being told that as I was playing kiss chase what did I expect by the teacher? I was very angry because we hadn't been playing kiss chase at all, it was a get back to base game before being caught as far as I was aware but the little boy had said it was kiss chase and I think that as other kids were playing this in the playground they just took his word for it. Wow. Hadn't thought about that for years.

I think children have to be taught about physical space and boundaries both with regard to their own body and others and that's for both genders but yes, on reflection, there is greater pressure for girls to see boys attempts to touch/kiss them etc as them being nice so why should girls say no/ask them to stop. It goes back to the whole 'being polite' business and the inherent contradiction in the way we train girls to be polite and considerate and then suddenly also tell them that unless they have visible physical scars they couldn't have said "No" strongly enough if they are raped. Society sets them up because at the same time as training them to be polite we fail to tell them that their default position is that society considers them to be in a state of consent to sex unless they say no forcefully and loudly enough.

Despite my own story I do think a punch in the face is OTT but I don't think it's OTT to tell her that no one has the right to touch her unless she wants them to and she can say loudly stop touching me/doing X and if the person is persistent to tell the teacher. Just hope the teacher is better than mine was (was 30 years ago though now).

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BecauseItsBedtime · 24/06/2012 19:13

bejeezus just playing devil's advocate here - my dd is nearly 7 and the kissing thing is also becoming a theme - but the girls also chase one slightly older boy (he's 9 I think) and kiss him against his will (though he is good humoured about it and brushes them off and tells them to leave him alone, he doesn't get upset) - what would you think if his mum told him to thump the 6 and 7 year old girls in the face?

I do see where you are coming from, and actually do sometimes tell my kids that if somebody hits them deliberately they can hit back - but I do say never hit first, I do think telling anyone to hit somebody in the face is very dubious ground, though I know why you don't want your daughter to think she has to accept being kissed without defending herself I don't think this is the way to go about it! What do you think?

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bejeezus · 24/06/2012 19:16

But I can imagine a conversation with the teacher going along the lines you described, can't you?....'oh never mind, go and play nicely'


(the boy in question is lovely and I am sure would stop if she told him...so its more about situations which may arise, rather than this situation wrt thumping)

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TheCrackFox · 24/06/2012 19:19

I have 2 boys (10 and 7) and I am big on telling them "no means no". Obviously they are too young for it to be applied to a sexual theme but I tell them all the time that if someone tells you to stop tickling them/ annoying them/shouting etc then you have to stop as it is very unkind.

When they are older DH and I will chat to them about what is a acceptable sex wise but hopefully we will have laid some solid foundations.

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bejeezus · 24/06/2012 19:24

Yes bedtime I had thought about the situation the other way round....I'm not sure what to think.

I nearly told dd, that she shouldn't wind the boys up! Hmm because I can imagine good natured provocation on both sides....and this boy just did something she wasn't comfortable with in that context. But that is a very very dangerous message to start sending

I hope dd could recognise if someone objected to something, and that she would stop. Tbh I think if she didn't and got thumped for it, it would be fair dos


What do you think is the way to defend yourself as an alternative?

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YouBrokeMySmoulder · 24/06/2012 19:29

I would tell her to stand in front and put her hands up and say No really firmly and then push them away with both hands if they didn't stop.

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BecauseItsBedtime · 24/06/2012 19:39

*bejeezus my DD did a self defence course before she started school, specifically aimed at new school starters - it wasn't especially for girls but I think is especially useful. They learnt how to handle approaches from strangers (children where we live walk or bus to school) and how to handle other children trying to hurt them, take things from them or do anything they didn't want. She was taught to stand with one leg in front of the other and her hands out and shout "Leave me alone!" at the top of her voice right into their face, then turn and run. There was also the option of stamping very hard on the other person's foot suggested! Separately they were taught how to get out of somebody's grip if grabbed by the arm. It was a very useful course, really it should be available to all 6 year olds everywhere I think, perhaps in school...

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bejeezus · 24/06/2012 19:51

Ok, maybe ill have another chat and tone down the defense strategy....my initial thought had been head-butt, so you know....baby steps...Grin

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BecauseItsBedtime · 24/06/2012 20:19

:o Seriously though you don't want to get her into the centre of a big bun flight at school for head-butting somebody on your advice! Push them away, shout leave me alone into their face, maybe stamp on their toe - less likely to get her excluded from school and will still make the point!

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habbibu · 24/06/2012 20:22

dd's school has a cool in school strategy where they are taught to put hand out and say "No!" firmly. At this age part of their defence is also to seek refuge with an appropriate adult too, surely, if their attempts to stop the behaviour aren't working and the situation is getting upsetting.

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Rubirosa · 24/06/2012 20:49

BecauseItsBedtime - actually I do think that boy would be quite justified in at least pushing them over/away physically if they continued to do something he didn't want and had asked them to stop. Does your DD not understand that her behaviour is inappropriate?

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BecauseItsBedtime · 24/06/2012 20:56

Rubirosa you do have a point there, I will try to talk to her about that next time it comes up in conversation. I am not totally sure she does try to kiss him herself, but she is involved in chasing him certainly. It is a funny one as he does court the girls attention (he also lives on our road) and likes being a bit of a celebrity, but of course this is also a case where you (I) should look at it as if it were the other way around and remember that "flirting" (for want of a better word, he is a child obviously) doesn't give the girls the right to chase and kiss him if he doesn't want. It all seems good natured, but you are right it is a basis for a conversation about respecting other people's personal space!!

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Krumbum · 24/06/2012 21:20

Maybe suggest pushing them away as opposed to thumping. She might just start thinking thumping is for fun now lol! I think what you said was good though, I hate the boys will be boys mentality.

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bejeezus · 24/06/2012 22:01

So, I spike to her again I told her that thumping anyone in the face was probably a bit more force than wad necessary and she would probably get in trouble; she should push them away instead if they didn't listen to her

She said I am mad, and she knows she shouldn't thump someone and she would never do that. And she wouldn't push anyone either because its really unkind. She would tell the teacher

So that's me told Hmm Grin

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EdithWeston · 24/06/2012 22:15

Playground games can be very useful 'training'.

I've had several conversations with my DCs (both sexes) about how do you tell the difference between (for want of a better expression) 'scream if you want to go faster' and when someone is really unhappy, and why you stop straight away when someone isn't happy. This has been mainly in terms of chasing, catching and wrestling/tickling games, but the same messages (contact sports only when everyone knows what is being played and wants to join in) will apply later.

Learning to say: 'I said 'no' and I mean it' is useful, as is reminding them to tell a grown up if there isn't an immediate stop.

Telling them to hit is problematic - it can too easily muddle the event with blame falling on the one who hits rather than a proper examination of underlying cause. My message is 'you always have the right to self defence'.

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solidgoldbrass · 24/06/2012 23:43

My DS (aged 7) is very affectionate and likes to hug and kiss people (and I mean people, his hugs are as likely to be bestowed on the milkman as on another child, and he kisses his male friends and tells them he loves them, so we're not talking miniature entitled male oppressor of women). I am currently trying to work out ways of getting it across to him that while it's nice to be kind and friendly, not everyone likes cuddles - without making him scared to show affection.

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bejeezus · 25/06/2012 07:18

I would think other peoples reactions would teach him that solid?

I'm not sure why you think he would become scared to show affection?
Ate you presenting the 'dilemma' from the other side?

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CakeGloriousCake · 25/06/2012 07:31

SGB my son is exactly the same. Funnily enough, not girls though (women like grandma, me etc) and friends but not girls. I think despite the fact that he is very affectionate he doesn't want to kiss girls (apart from his sister). He is often over affectionate though and although most people find it endearing now it is soon going to get to the uncomfortable/taking the micky stage. It's very hard to explain to him that he doesn't need to cuddle people to show them he cares about them. How do you address it?

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bejeezus · 25/06/2012 07:33

I would think other peoples reactions would teach him that solid?

I'm not sure why you think he would become scared to show affection?
Ate you presenting the 'dilemma' from the other side?

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MsAnnTeak · 25/06/2012 07:42

Definitely food for thought. Wondering if we sometimes send out the wrong messages. Back when my DDs were younger I was guilty of telling them to 'give grandma a hug',and expecting them to, allowing family and friends to greet them with a kiss and hug without a thought if they were happy with it. I automatically assumed. Differentiating boundaries at school is obviously going to hit a few hurdles but new friendships, outside influences is part of the learning process.

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Pozzled · 25/06/2012 07:42

I don't think it's ever too young to start teaching this. My DD1 is almost 4 and has two male 'best friends' that she's known all her life. One in particular is very affectionate and loves to kiss/hold hands etc. We've always taught the three of them that they ask first, and if the other person says no they don't do it. They're pretty good about it.

DD starts school in Sep and after reading this I think I will teach her how to use a very forceful 'no' with hands up so there's no doubt. I also like the suggestion of 'I said no and I mean it'.

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