My son saw the #metoo #amInext march in Cape Town last week on the news. The conversation went like this:
“Why are they marching Mom?”
“Because violence against women in South Africa is like an epidemic my son”
“But why Mom?”
“Because there is something fundamentally wrong in our society?”
“But why Mom?”
I stand behind that protest 100%. But a protest is like a volume button, it
The hashtags of #metoo and #amInext and #femicide is a call to a higher standard of engagement. But as
It’s all of our responsibility to raise the kind of kids who appreciate the uniqueness, equality, dignity and value of the opposite gender. That doesn’t just happen.
It has never been more important to engage with our kids in a new and focused way around these things and to be intentional about it. So this is what I told my boys:
The way women are treated is an atrocity:
This is not limited to South Africa or certain communities or cultures. It’s true everywhere. And women have had enough. Our breaking point has been centuries in the making and now it’s here. And I want my boys to know why. It is based on certain misinterpretations of biology and theology, that didn’t take into account a full set of facts or context. Misinterpretations (i.e the “glasses” through which people “read” these things) that have been accepted as truths, but that are in fact lies. And I have no problem in calling them lies
But the problem is not in how women are treated:
The true problem lies in the way women are viewed. The problem is deeper than history, than a culture of patriarchy, than biases and blond jokes. Because all of those things find their origin in one place, in the way one person sees another person. In that sense racism, xenophobia (another evil that rocked our nation again this week) and femicide/ gender based violence is not that different. Because at their root they all find their origins in the way one person sees another person. And as is always the case, the way you see someone else is most often based on how you see yourself. If you see someone as less than, it’s because you see yourself as “more than”. If you see someone for some reason as less deserving, it’s because you see yourself as more deserving.
So yes, it’s important that we address equality, pay equity, femicide and all those good and essential things, but lets make no mistake, real change happens in a different direction.
I don’t want to raise boys who know how to behave in a way that honors, values and respects women. Having the good manners to not tell blond jokes and not hit girls is not the same as holding firm to a fundamental believe that all people are worthy of honor, value and respect.
Because ultimately if we wish to see changes in our society, in legislation, in our communities, there can be no fundamental change effected on that level if we don’t dig down a little deeper and try to affect change at a heart level.
Changewill not come through laws and loudspeakers if it doesn’t first come in hearts and homes
Always fight lies with truth:
This is the definition of truth in our house: God’s opinion about EVERYTHING. And if God sees everyone the same so should we. His opinion is that we are all equal (Gen 1 v 27/ Deut 10 v 17/ Rom 2 v 11/ Gal 3 v 26 – 29) and have equal standing with Him.
In God’s eyes we are endowed with worth not because of this or that attribute but because of His likeness in us and His love for us. It is not dependent on status, race, gender or culture. This is something that is true of every human person.
God gives us a different lens through which to see the world. In
The call on all of us is to regard everyone not by what we see on the outside, but by the truth of them as spiritual beings (2 Cor 5 v 16) and
Consider carefully, don’t consumer carelessly or accept mindlessly:
When we say things like “the problem is in society or culture or whatever” what we are often trying to communicate is that something has been “normalized” over time to a point where it is accepted. If we do not pinpoint those “accepted lies” and reveal them, they will hide in our hearts forever. That is why I encourage the boys to look and think a little deeper whenever I get a chance.
At a recent school prizegiving, a Gr 7 girl in The Elder’s class received an award for taking the most wickets in a cricket match at
Roles, jobs, positions and participation should be based on gifting, not gender! Always. Everywhere.
Our words reveal our attitudes and so I am pretty brutal when it comes to blond jokes, the use of phrases such as “women driver” and I strongly discourage the boys from listening to music that objectifies women. As an Afrikaans speaking
Make sure that even to the level of the content you consume and the jokes you tell you are reflecting the honor and respect that you yourself would like to be on the receiving end of.
Recognize and respect:
I tell the boys to pay attention to the contributions of not only the women in their lives (there are some epic ones!) but also the women in our world. Reading female authors, watching female athletes and considering the specific strengths and traits of the girls and women in their world that they admire. Not in an “anything boys can do girls can do better” kind of way, then all we are doing is swinging the pendulum the other way. That also doesn’t reflect respect or value. But in a way that sensitizes them to recognize and respect women equally in a culture and society that is possibly not set up for that to happen naturally.
We have the power to change things.
In a world of man-bashing (mostly rightly so), we as boy-moms should try to encourage positive masculinity and chivalrous behaviour that has nothing to do with long-dead ideas about men and women, but has everything to do with the heart attitude that there is never a reason to be mean, that kindness is always the best response, and the golden rule of putting others first that helps our kids to shine a light in the world.
When we sensitize our boys to inherent biases I believe we are actually empowering them. It equips them with an understanding of the world that helps them make sense of things, and an understanding of themselves that helps them grow. The power for real change lies not in the pressure we can put on a government or system or institution. Because at a fundamental level it’s not society, history or culture that govern what we do and don’t to, it’s what we have accepted as true, have bought into on a belief/ heart level.
It is only change at a heart level that helps us see things differently. Only then can we do things differently.