Aryan Gupta said, “we live in a society that teaches women or girls to not get raped, instead of teaching men not to rape”. True to Aryan Gupta’s words, we live in a society that teaches girls sex education, dictates what they should wear and how they should wear them. Girls are taken through finishing schools to learn mannerisms, social graces and etiquettes, but boys don’t have to attend finishing school. Boys are expected to automatically learn how to behave in society, but girls have to learn.
When a girl gets raped, society picks stones and aims at the girl, saying “what did she wear”, why should she go out at night?” “She knows that road is lonely, why did she use that road. She invited that attention”, “She should say No to a guy politely. Why did she insult him after saying No? that’s why he raped her”. These people forget that adults who rapes were once children whose parents or society has modelled the bad example to. They forget that the men who rape were once students who stood by the wall to pass comments about a woman’s body, and was or wasn’t corrected because “he’s a man, he’ll learn”.
A child is born with a mind that can be likened to a blank slate waiting to be written upon. The first set of people to write on that slate is the family, then the environment before everything that comes after. As parents, what are you writing on the blank slate of your child’s mind? Just like the principle of “garbage In, Garbage Out”, children are the definition of what is programmed in their minds.
The minds of our boys must be programmed to think the right thoughts. Boys should be taught to be selfless and gentle, rather than selfish and entitled. They should be taught to respect a woman’s body, to respect, protect and see every girl child as important and someone to be protected.
How do we educate our boys to not see girls as objects? How do we teach them to respect their sisters and by extension girls out there? How do we model the right attitude to our boy-child?
MODELING: Children learn by doing. Successful parenting is not achieved by telling a child to do as you say but not do as you do. Children learn with their eyes first and then their minds. They learn to behave like you and that’s why when a child is seen using certain words in school or church, the home is checked, as the parents must have been using that word in the presence of the child. As a father, how do you address his mum? How do you address other women?
Parents represent models of the right attitudes. It is not a do as I say affair, it is doing as I do. Teach your boy child by showing him that women are an essential part of society. Talk to your female staff with the utmost respect. Show him how to appreciate a woman by praising his mom. Show him that women are not slaves by helping with little things around the house. Tell him that mom will appreciate it if the house is kept in order. He learns from a young age to keep his toys away and pack up his plates in the kitchen if you do it in the first place.
THE MAGIC WORDS ARE MAGICAL: The five magic words include sorry, thank you, please, excuse me, pardon me. These words should be a part of your vocabulary even while talking to your child. They deserve to be praised for the praiseworthy things they do. They deserve an apology when you are wrong. By showing your child respect, he learns to respect others.
SEXISM IS NOT COOL: Teach your son that the world will present him with different values. He may come across people who say women belong to the kitchen or girls cannot become engineers, and they should be in art class. Teach him not to join them in debates that say boys are better than girls; such debates shouldn’t even be presented in the classroom anymore. Tell him he shouldn’t be found talking about a girl’s body or passing derogatory remarks because she’s a girl. It’s sexism and it’s not cool.
SON, WOMEN ARE NOT OBJECTS: Teach your boy child about the issues that make a girl feel bad. Teach him that it is bad to snicker or pass comments about a girl’s looks or body, it’s disrespectful to do that. As your boy child advances in age, he may come across pornographic content that portrays women as objects that can be beaten, bound and made to submit under gruesome circumstances. Teach your teen that although society seems to accept this sexual concept, it is unreal and teaches bad values.
COMMUNICATION: As boys mature, they need that person to constantly communicate with them. That person who has threaded that road of being a gentleman to guide them along the way. Would you be that person to teach him how to cultivate healthy relationships? Would you teach him empathy, love, and respect? Would you teach him that when a woman says no, she means no? Would you teach him what consent means and how important consent is? Would you raise a gentleman? Would you teach him not to rape? And would you teach him to protect his woman?
A tree cannot make a forest. If every parent can commit themselves to bringing up the model man. If every parent can channel the same energy used to train boys in training girls, society will become safer for our women to live in. Would you raise a gentleman?