Here's to the boys ...

Questions and discussions about gender, gender roles and identity.
OldMan
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Here's to the boys ...

Unread postby OldMan » Wed May 23, 2018 5:10 am

With the current media mega-blast about how predatory men and boys are, I think it's appropriate to acknowledge that the problem exists with only a small number of boys and men. I firmly believe that most boys are caring individuals who are aware enough to back off when someone tells them "no." Obviously there's always room to learn more and do more. But I think the current obsession with male predation misses the many, MANY sensitive, caring boys out there - even those with rough exteriors - and I worry that many boys will see the current media stories and think that they are predators too, even though they're not.

I think even Scarleteen has succumbed to this viewpoint, in a way. I'd like Scarleteen to specifically acknowledge that MOST boys - not "a few," not "some" - are respectful individuals who care very much about not hurting others and getting along the best they can. Everyone still needs to be educated on what's appropriate socially - not just boys, but girls and all genders too (and thank you, Scarlerteen, for filling this role) - but I think it's very easy for some boys to feel hopeless and sad about themselves due to their gender, and I'd like to reassure them: you are are NOT a predator. Work on yourself, but always remember that you are fundamentally a good person, and don't let the bad apples out there make you think that you're not.

Heather
scarleteen founder & director
Posts: 6668
Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2014 11:43 am
My Awesomeness Quotient: I know every word of The Lorax by heart.
My primary language: english
My pronouns: they/them
My sexual identity and orientation: queery-queer-queer
Location: Chicago, IL and Vashon Island, WA

Re: Here's to the boys ...

Unread postby Heather » Wed May 23, 2018 7:39 am

While I appreciate so much of this sentiment, and this call for care and acknowledgment, I need to ask you to please do this differently, not by coming in here and telling us what you want us to do.

It's extra-dicey as a man way outside the age group we serve coming into a queer and women/nonbinary-led space made to serve young people, and literally telling us what to do when it comes to acknowledging men and boys (in ways we have been doing loudly for our whole 20 years, no less). We didn't "succumb" to the viewpoint that most men and boys are not predatory or abusive. We've been very clear on that throughout, and you'll find that in a ton of our content already. We just did a whole piece that touched on this yesterday, no less.

So, we're for sure happy to have this kind of conversation, and agree it's important at times like these to remind boys and men they're not predators by design, and most of them are caring, compassionate people. But let's find a way to do it that doesn't start with men coming in and giving orders, okay? That doesn't represent this view very well, but besides that point, I find it disrespectful and don't like it. Thank you.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

OldMan
newbie
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed May 23, 2018 4:57 am
My pronouns: he/him
Location: USA

Re: Here's to the boys ...

Unread postby OldMan » Wed May 23, 2018 7:59 am

My apologies, truly, for overstepping the appropriate boundaries. I feel very strongly about this matter, and in fact it was your post, Heather, that made me want to write this.

You wrote: "We also hope it's something more young people, especially young men, will just inform themselves about and really take in: we know so many young men who understand, accept and support healthy ways to respond to a no or rejection just fine. We know that more can."

Saying you know many that do means, to me, that you also know many that don't. I feel this is wrong. I think MOST boys DO understand, accept, and support healthy ways to hear "no." We don't hear about those boys because there is nothing special about what they do. They simply behave correctly.

The reason I feel strongly enough to come to your board and say these things is because I absorbed MANY destructive messages about what being a man was like when I myself was a boy. I learned that girls were good and that men were bad. I learned that male sexuality was always predatory. I learned that men were always potential rapists. I learned that men were always abusers, and women were always victims.

But even though I felt that I wasn't a predator or a rapist, I *thought* that I was anyway, and had to be, since that was what people expected of me as a man. This set me up for many poor relationship decisions that culminated in domestic violence and sexual abuse being committed against me. I didn't think it was possible for a woman to abuse a man, because I had learned that only men could be abusers.

Many years later, I am now committed to healing myself. In my current, and - I admit - possibly fragile state, it seems that I came in here and started ordering you around. This wasn't my intention, and I apologize. I feel strongly that Scarleteen does amazing work, and I hate the thought that it could even potentially be a force of oppression against boys simply for being boys. If I missed the point of your above paragraph - although it does seem to me to be condemnatory against boys and young men - I further apologize.

Thank you for your work, Heather, and thank you everyone else here as well. Hopefully your work will mean there will be fewer men like me in the future who have to work hard at healing their sexual trauma.

Heather
scarleteen founder & director
Posts: 6668
Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2014 11:43 am
My Awesomeness Quotient: I know every word of The Lorax by heart.
My primary language: english
My pronouns: they/them
My sexual identity and orientation: queery-queer-queer
Location: Chicago, IL and Vashon Island, WA

Re: Here's to the boys ...

Unread postby Heather » Wed May 23, 2018 10:13 am

Indeed, you are reading something into what I said that I both very much did not say and also did not mean and do not think. “Many do” means just that: that many do, and it is those people I was discussing.

I’m so very sorry you had the experiences you did, and also that your sense of self and gender - as is so often the case for victims, whatever their gender - made you more vulnerable to abuse. But you Re reading into things that both our long history make clear we and I do not think and have never said, and I don’t feel that a conversation taking up this much space, based on a false idea about us (with someone far outside the age group we serve, no less) is productive for us or our users.

I also am not here to have discussions about those who are violent derailed: it is important we are able to talk about them, too, and without efforts to immediately redirect those conversations to different discussions about different people. What I wrote yesterday was specifically in response to a very fresh violent incident. Out of respect to those victims, I am not going to move away from THAT conversation so fast.

I’m stepping away from any more of this conversation for the day now to address the rest of my work.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead


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