Posted by: chicagoshells | August 23, 2012

For the Future

A friend of a friend wrote this articulate and insightful piece and posted it on Facebook.  As a soon-to-be mama of a boy, I thought it beautifully summed up a lot of what’s been on my mind recently, and wanted to make sure that I had it saved, to remember for later as I’m raising my little man.
 “I was nursing Judah and taking in his sweet little face when I started thinking about how much of his existence is owed to my body, the female body. And how I hope that he carries an awareness of that throughout his life as he interacts with girls and women and treats them with respect. And then I thought about Mr. Akin and his recent statements and how he also owes his existence to a woman and her body. Which then led me to think about his mother and what kind of woman she might be and how she feels about what he said. And I was struck by this feeling of urgent responsibility as the mother of a son as well as a wish to call other mothers of sons to awareness and intention. Our sons will be adult men someday. Some of our sons will be adult white men who will carry around the priviledge afforded to them simply because of their perceived race and gender. And as I have so desperately tried to make sense of how Mr. Akin can have the views he does, I keep coming back to this: that he is not skilled at considering the experiences of others, nor has he been taught about this priviledge he enjoys. He is ignorant of the fact that his vantage point is extremely different from that of women, women of color, GLBT folks, people with varying physical and cognitive abilities, men of color and all other variations of people that I have not specifically mentioned. That his very existence has never been suspect or questioned or thought of as less than. So a woman could be “illegitimately” raped by “asking for it” because he has not felt intimidated, overpowered, or trapped by a man, nor objectified without his consent or enjoyment. He is blind to his position and the power he enjoys as a result. He is not trying to get out of himself and his experience to try to understand what it could mean to be violated or oppressed in some way. And this leaves us mothers with a powerful role and sacred responsibility: to be the teachers to our boys, especially those boys who enjoy white privilege. We have carried our boys, nourished them with our bodies, or for alternative families, with our hearts, our time, our love, and we have a responsibility to teach them about how others may experience the world as well as how others are experienced, specifically, those who are subject to oppressive forces. This is urgent and vital so that we mothers can create a new generation of men who would never think to utter the words that Mr. Akin uttered, because the thoughts that preceded them would not occur. Because our boys will appreciate their privilege, strive to understand others, and wield whatever power they have with compassion and humility. And our communities, and all of us living in them, will be much better for it.”

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