Good Men

The third little traveller is blissfully floating through his first bromance. In an act from the expat gods, relocations have worked in his favour this year with the delivery of his two new best friends. They have become a threesome, inseparable besties.

If the perfect girlfriend remains to be one whose Dad owns a brewery, our third traveller thought he’d really hit the jackpot when he discovered his new buddy’s Dad worked in a high end hotel. It’s hard to top a play date that involves a beach, pool and restaurant. “Mum, it was amazing – we were allowed to have ice-cream and burgers by the pool!” When I asked what the highlights of a recent play date were I was told that he’d learnt how to temporarily dislocate his jaw “you know Mum, sharks do it all the time, and once I learnt it, I could fit my whole burger in my mouth. Want me to show you how to do it?” When I asked jokingly how he had returned the favour, he told me he’d taught his new friends how to armpit fart.

Best. Day. Ever.

As much as I nagged my mother, she never succumbed by providing my sister and I with a brother. Our childhood home was high in estrogen. And although my father is a lover of golf, football and cricket there was never a lot of armpit farting or wrestling. I always felt slightly envious of those who had brothers, I wanted their inside knowledge of how these strange creatures worked.

Jokes are made about the lack of instructions and handbooks when it comes to children, but we all come with our parental baggage of lessons we would like to impart. I want my girls to be strong, educated and confident. I want them to feel free, to head in which ever direction they chose with the knowledge that we as a family are behind them all the way.

My hopes for my boys are the same, but I have something extra, a hope that they will be good men, men who respect themselves and the women in their lives. Men who remember to speak up when something is passed off as a “joke”. Men who never accept an act of cruelty as “just having a laugh”. As women, we all have our stories. When I was 9 and my bikini bottoms were pulled at and removed in the local pool by a group of boys – that was just a joke. When I was 15 and my girlfriend was surrounded by a group of men walking by, who then grabbed at her breasts and tried to put their hands down her pants – that was just a joke. When boys got pushy, when boys drove you to places with plans that you were unaware of, when boys talked of other girls, girls who you knew were being judged by their appearance – the dogs, the sluts, the moles – just a joke.

I was reading an article this week about some of the Facebook pages in existence that remain disguised as humor. Pages that promote rape, pages posting pictures of women without their permission for people to comment on. Pages with questions like “What’s 10 inches and gets girls to have sex with me? My knife.” Pages such as “12 year old Slut Meme’s” (212K followers), a site run by two 19 year old boys with little gems of insight such as “As long as there are sluts, we will put them in their place”

Today in Australia, many people are horrified by the fact that a 29 year old woman was raped and murdered while walking home late a night. Perhaps we were more affected because we saw the CCTV footage and watched a man pace the footpaths, looking for a victim. We saw her distraught husband, her parents, her work colleagues. Women have discussed the whole it could have been me factor, and told their stories of near misses. Others want to reclaim the night, remind people that they are more likely to be raped/hurt by someone they know, that the randomness of the attack was exactly that, random.

I wait to hear more about him. How do you raise a rapist? Or is it not that simple? What are the signs? Where did it all go wrong? How do you finally become damaged enough to be dangerous? How do you treat a woman with absolutely no respect?

We have much to teach our boys.

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