Monday, November 16, 2009

damage that men do

It's a brutal challenge to have daughters. How to maintain some of the myth of the romantic process--and, actually, why?--while also cautioning & preparing them for the enslaught of male-female relations. Sure, we played Indigo Girls and Tribe 8 to them in utero, but they seem ambivalent toward early Sapphism. So, having male-oriented girls, how do we in good conscience prepare them for the horrors of adolescence and beyond?

I wasn't a bad guy when I was younger, but I was an asshole at times. I was certainly clumsy if not brutal with girls' feelings. I never forced anyone to do anything physically, but how many girls, facing the crucible of 'do it or lose the boy' made decisions contrary to their hearts--ones they regretted? In Housekeeping, Marilyn Robinson has a great line about the amnesia of adulthood. HOW can we forget all we did & endured, solely to give our children their shot at a myth we all know doesn't exist?

I teach my girls to respect themselves. I try to instill core self-confidence. Healthy inner voices and external scrutiny of situations and people. An awareness that people do and say things w/o considering the impact they have on others--don't take personally the shit others throw at you; conversely, be aware that others aren't always looking out for you.

Fair enough. But the next step? Do I say that, in early (and later, I guess) dating, the boys are clumsy, desperate, awkward, insecure? There is seldom love on the basement couch or in the minivan--but there are bruises and pregnancy and--these days--video cameras uplinked to internet. Do I teach them to defend themselves--and why? Would I rather they seriously hurt a boy who is 'just being a boy'? I know too many women who, as girls & young women, suffered horrendous physical and psychological and emotional damage at the hands and pricks of guys who 'were good guys'; who 'didn't mean anything'; who 'just made a mistake.' I don't want my girls scarred for life because of a 'good guy's' 'accident.' Better he gets his windpipe severed.

But, how to instill this w/o pre-scarring, and scaring, them pre-emptively? I see the college kids and remember all the boorish stupidity we did. I know it hurt many feelings, fucked up how some girls saw themselves. If we can't better train boys to be more sensible, and stop girls and boys from buying the shit they sell in the magazines, then we might teach the gals to stop it for real.

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