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What My Sons Need to Know in a #MeToo World


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Not a day goes by in our 24/7 news cycle focused world full of sound bytes and Twitter mobs without someone new saying something unacceptable and getting slammed for it. I’m not talking about arguments about the oxford comma or how to properly pronounce the file extension GIF. The arguments I’m referring to are the ones that clearly deal with the safety of individuals targeted by inappropriate language deeming them less worthy than others. It is completely unacceptable and has no place in modern society.

The whole #MeToo conversation is about power & equity, yes. But it also includes topics of consent, trust, and empathy among others. The topic is vast and includes many voices. I listen more about this subject than I speak precisely because it doesn’t affect me as much as it does others I know. This post is simply a small part of a much larger conversation being had that I will continue to listen to and learn from others who have more experience and expertise than I.

Anything less than an enthusiastic and ongoing “Yes!” is a “No.”


Yup, I just quoted my wife. She’s one of the smartest people I know. My sons and I have and will continue to learn from her experiences for years to come. She’s dead on with this consent thing. Why? She’s got stories about things I’ve never experienced because I’m a guy. I don’t have to worry about the personal saftey things she does becasue of the same reason.

We’re trying our best to make sure our sons learn what consent is now with small things like giving/receiving hugs or sharing toys. That way, when they are older it can be easily transferred to other sorts of physical touch. Not only do they need to learn to listen to others, but they need to respect others wishes while keeping themselves safe too.

I’m in my late 30s now and have many mistakes that I wish I had never made. None of them though have been remotely related to mistreating women. I don’t understand how men can say or do some of the horrible things that they do. It isn’t that hard to judge if someone wants to do something. Is it?

More than once, many times in fact, I’ve been called a “beta male.” It was supposed to be an insult I suppose, but I never took it as one. The kinds of men who I see labeled that way (on Twitter mostly) are the ones society needs most. Men who are empathetic to those in need. Men who protect those around them. Men who take into account the feelings and thoughts of those around them and do their best to help them achieve their best selves. I only see these self-proclaimed “alpha males” as insecure bullies trying to find their own validation by putting down those who understand what it is to listen and value others. I’ll continue to take “beta male” as a compliment. No one likes the guy who won’t shut up about how awesome they are anyways, right?!

Americans are full of ideas on how men are generally expected to behave within society. These widely held ideas often criticize men when they feel any sort of vulnerability, inadequacy, or indecisiveness. Men are stereotypically expected to hide any sort of emotion that might make them appear weak or lacking in some way. And this can cause great harm to the men who subscribe to it and those around them.

It is our job as men to go out of our way to make others feel safe and be safe around us. Society as a whole would benefit.

Joel Gratcyk (Daddy’s Grounded)

That frail and angry American male ego can lash out at external forces they can’t control. Many women, for example, rightfully expect to be treated as equals. This can be seen as a threat to someone who hasn’t been taught that it is a completely reasonable request to be treated equally. The misogynistic view of men being superior to women has to die and I hope it will with my sons’ generation.

I want them to know that in a #MeToo world they are the ones responsible for their own actions. It doesn’t matter how much someone drank, or what they were wearing, or what time of night they decided to go out. People should be listened to, respected, and at times protected.

Whenever I go out drinking I tend to be the most responsible one in the group. I’m always thinking about how everyone will get home safe or worrying about if everyone is getting food and staying hydrated enough. If they really want to skip eating I won’t force them to change plans. I will make sure they know they have the option though.

I want my sons to be the ones who are making sure people are alright. I want them to feel free to express their emotions and know that it is okay to ask for help. I want them to know medication is not a sign of mental weakness, but of strength. I want them to be themselves. And I want their true selves to be thoughtful of others.

It’s simple really sons, an amazing woman I know once told me: Anything less than an enthusiastic and on going “Yes!” is a “No.”


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