May 26, 2011 · Posted in Fatherhood, Media, Parenting, Relationships · Permalink
Now let’s make a prediction. Arnold Schwarzenegger will go on to make many movies, millions of dollars and maul more women. Maria Shriver will grieve and comfort her children and learn deep lessons about herself and move on to a new more fulfilling chapter in her life. Any dissenters out there? It is embarrassing that time after time, our culture continues to not only disregard men’s bad behavior but even reward it with more money and more celebrity. The culture is so out of control that we really have to rely on ourselves as parents to teach our children, and in this case, boys, how to be respectful and loving people.
Sexual harassment, inappropriate uses of power positions, and betrayal in relationships are happening all around us. From Arnold Schwarzenegger to male students at Yale, from the head of the International Monetary Fund, to soldiers using rape as a widespread war weapon in the Congo. The truth is that the objectification of women is alive and well in 2011.
I look back at the hopeful naïveté I had in college that rights for women and equality and safety would just keep increasing and increasing. In many arenas of life for women there have been tremendous gains. In the realm of safety and respect for the physical and emotional life of girls and women, unfortunately, things have not changed much and are actually exacerbated by our culture.
As parents, we need to remember that respect for women and girls needs to be a primary lesson to boys. We need to model as mothers the self respect and intolerance for even benign “boys will be boys” behavior, and fathers have a tremendous responsibility to teach their sons what is really means to be a man. To embody the bravery it takes not sink down to lowest common denominator of human behavior.