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Having a baby is a huge responsibility, but I feel it’s more so when one has a son. I was born and brought up in India. So when I would hear convicted rapists, lawyers, ministers, celebrities and even random husbands, dads, brothers and boyfriends being chauvinistic patriarchal pigs, my medically inclined brain always presumed that it’s sort of an endemic disease. Then Brock Turner and his defense appeal happened and I reluctantly conceded that male bigotry is probably more of an epidemic. At that point, the USA had their 58th quadrennial elections and I was crudely jolted out of my reverie. It is a pandemic. I now feel the need to urge all parents to teach our sons a good many things. I would like to clarify that this piece of mine in no way endorses not teaching our girls parallel lessons too. But I would like to spare that for another day, another piece.
So if there are any “Jeez! Stop picking on boys cz girls need to be taught that too” people reading this, I would like to insist that this article is about WHAT OUR BOYS NEED TO BE TAUGHT. Start teaching them young. Start whilst you still think they are too fledgling to know any better. We teach them to not eat their poo-poo. We teach them not to splash their pee. We teach them to touch food only with clean hands. That’s when we ought to start teaching them to respect all other human beings, especially women. Tell them that snatching toys from other people is uncivilized. Convey resiliently and repeatedly that they cannot have whatever they like whenever they want. Teach them to wait. Teach them to share. Teach them not to grab whatever catches their fancy. Teach them to offer and be kind. They must ask permission. Always.
Demonstrate through your own routine speech and behavior, that you won’t allow sexist slurs or misanthropy of any kind in your family. Teach them, that the words they use for women can be really potent. So when he says, “I don’t want to cook/play/work like a girl ….” respond with, “Why? are you afraid of doing it as well?” Instill in him the belief that you will not allow your son to consider females as inferior in any way. Exhibit by your own demeanor that you expect your son to respect women.
Teach him about respecting physical boundaries. Teach him consent. The person who owns the body, gets to decide who can touch it and when. When relatives or friends visit, please request them to ask for your son’s consent before hugging or kissing him. If he feels uncomfortable receiving physical affection from visitors or family members that live far, let him know he doesn't have to. You can always say, “Son, this is your grandpa, he is my dad just like I am your dad. He loves you and would be delighted to hug you. So let us know whenever you feel comfortable with doing that.” If your parents, in-laws or other relatives take offence at this exercise just remember that raising a delinquent would be far more awful than their brief unpleasantness.
Teach him by your actions that cooking meals, feeding babies, washing and folding laundry, cleaning the home, getting groceries are in no way just a woman’s prerogative. Always remember that you are your son’s idol. Let him realize that if dad cooks dinner every day or vacuums the house, or cleans the toilet he’s not helping mom. It’s everybody’s duty to share housework. Teach him to do his own dishes the day he learns how to wash his own hands. Teach him to get his own breakfast the day he is old enough to order pizza all by himself. Teach him basic life skills like cooking, doing laundry and grocery before he graduates middle school. Make him contribute in caring for a younger sibling or an aged grandparent. Break antediluvian gender stereotypes right there in your own living room. Worry about the rest of the world later. Remember, children learn to imitate long before they learn how to speak or walk. Make the lesson get bigger as your son grows older. When he starts developing interest in the opposite gender, sit down with him and show him pictures of the female body. Don’t wait for porn to become his first teacher. Grab the chance to illustrate how the female form is different and how it is so much stronger in so many ways. Teach him how all the testosterone powered abs or biceps in the world can’t birth a child or breastfeed it.Teach him to highly esteem the lack of physical clout that comes with such superpowers in all females. Before he starts dating her, make sure he knows what respect is. Tell him it is offensive to stare at a woman’s breasts while speaking to her. Tell him that ‘grabbing her by the pussy’ is incredibly disgraceful even if the president of some country sanctions it with his small mind and big mouth. Teach him that no means no. If she wants to just kiss instill in him to respect that. Explain to him that if she is too drunk to speak coherently, it doesn't imply she wants sex. If she is dancing in some club at midnight in a miniskirt with a zillion male friends, it doesn't mean she is asking for rape. If she changes her mind after getting in bed with you, respect her decision and stop immediately. If she got into a relationship with you, that doesn't mean you got a licence to keep tabs on her outings, phone calls, mails or Facebook. Tell him again and again how he has no right to control which friends she gets to talk to or visit. Seven Hells if she wants to go to Vegas and stay in a dormitory full of boys because she would rather spend her money in a casino, remember not to be a prick about it. If you don't trust her please just walk out of the relationship instead of turning her into a paranoid, scared woman who feels she is walking on egg-shells every moment. No matter what she did, whether she ghosted you or cheated you or spoke harshly to you or insulted your masculinity, it is never okay to hit a woman or smack talk her to your friends. Teach him to remain dignified and walk away instead. Please never spank your son when he makes a mistake. When we spank kids, we just teach them that violence is an effective means of having one’s way. Teach him that eve-teasing, stalking, staring, slandering, smack talking, murder and rape are evil. Teach him that these acts are never ever okay under any circumstances. Tell him that just because you bring up this topic every now and then, it doesn't mean that it’s a fleeting concept. It’s a way of life. Drill it into his soul. The day we succeed in teaching our sons this, we will never feel scared of letting our daughters venture alone out of our homes.