Category: Activist Mama

Activist Mama: teach men not to rape

I lost my voice over the weekend. Literally. It was probably a rather nice break for DH and the kids. This quiet life is an interesting experience. I have been knocking once on the wall to say ‘Yes’ and twice to say ‘No’. I have yet to find a quicker way than the morse code to ‘say’: LEAVE ME ALONE! Without words, I seem to be able to keep my emotions more in check. Usually irate things are actually kind of OK when you can’t talk. For example, kids punching each other would normally start a screaming fit on my part. Well, not at the moment. Instead, I gently take their hands and get them to do something less barbaric such as play with a puzzle or less painful such as punching the baby doll instead (I do realize that the latter tactic will probably come back and bite me in the arse). Inside I also feel more at peace too, strangely. A silent me seems to be a better mom. Strange. Disturbing even.

However, the minus side is that I had to go berserk silently when a friend posted this video Teach men not to rape in which Zerlina Maxwell and TV host, Hannity are debating arming women for self-defense Vs teaching men not to commit violence on women and rape. It infuriates me to no end this bullshit about arming up the whole country to feel safer and fight crime. It drives me nuts when the pro gun faction says ‘it is not the guns the problem, it is the people’ to fight gun bans but then denigrate long-term violence prevention measures that seriously focus on people and, let’s face, more specifically men. And I am not talking about men with mental health issues, still a small proportion of the entire population and probably an even smaller proportion of the violent population. Indeed, it pisses me off when people like Hannity put yet again the onus on women. Enough of this ‘gender equality’ meaning a focus on women as victims, perpetrators, the people who have less and thus have to be helped to change. I have found an excellent article on the masculinity excesses in crime and violence by Cynthia Cockburn and Ann Oakley published in openDemocracy. Here’s a powerful extract:

‘Year after year, we fail to connect the huge burden of masculine anti-social behaviour with the social and economic system of which it is part. Where is the search for reasons and remedies? Instead of joining the dots, and drawing a conclusion, we treat every piece of breaking news as a shocking new scandal, a special case. Jimmy Savile is exposed, along with other male celebrity paedophiles. The policy response, ready and waiting, is ‘we need better child protection’. Nobody thinks to ask, ‘what is it with men and power?’ A school massacre grabs the headlines. It is taken for granted the perpetrator will be a male. But the policy response is ‘tighten gun control’. Not, ‘what is it with men and guns?’ Almost always in such accounts of violent crime the man as male, the man as masculine, remains a shadowy figure behind the text. He is never brought into the spotlight. We do not hear him questioned. We do not hear him answer.’

When you see someone on national TV like Hannity  being dumbfounded by the suggestion that men, masculinity and violence are correlated as if it was the first time he heard about such concept, you realize that there is a long way to go to address the roots of violence in our societies.

Activist Mama: Dear Boy Scouts of America

Here’s a copy of the email I sent to Boy Scouts of America.

Dear Boy Scouts of America

I never write directly to organizations to lobby for stuff. I am more than happy to give a monthly small gift to good causes or sign online petitions but writing? Nope. Never done it.

I decided to stay awake tonight while my 3 babies are sound asleep in the room next door , which is sheer madness considering they will probably crawl into my bed to play at 4am. I decided to give up much needed sleep to write to you, Boy Scouts of America because I am very upset. I am upset that you are still debating whether or not to allow gay scouts and leaders in your organization.

See, my husband and I are overwhelmed parents of three babies. Our families are far and if it was not for the dedication, love and support of our gay friends our children, I am ashamed to say, would not be so happy. These friends are our life support and they offer so much to my kids: safe arms to snuggle into, patient ears to talk to, singing voices to listen to, energy to play with etc. It pains me to think amazing people like them could not be mentors and friends to your members because of whom they love. Concerned families might be afraid that their influence would ‘turn’ their children into gay people. I will avoid the nature Vs nurture debate to tell you this: many gay people I know are petrified that some children they care for turn out to be gay because they know how it still sucks to be gay. So, no it is very unlikely that gay scout leaders would be on a mission to ‘Gay-icize’ members. Concerned families might be afraid that gay leaders would hurt their children. Let’s stop being hypocrites here and address this: gay does not equal pedophilia.

Finally, I saw that a key component of your mission is character building and development. I think kids desperately need such support to blossom in an increasingly complex world where bullying culture is overlooked or worse celebrated sometimes. Your organization is therefore exceptionally well placed to build a tolerant and positive America for future generations. Please lift the ban. It is your duty.

Best,

a (straight) mother of three in Harlem, New York

Activist Mama: the day my child tells me they are gay

DH works for a big ‘let’s make money’ corporation but it is amazing how many good causes he has been involved in. The guy is a walking nonprofit and not just because his entire pay check is spent on feeding his wife and kids. He has mentored a kid from the Bronx, recruited members for the LGBT Allies Network, advised social entrepreneurs, trained Columbia students and is now organizing a seminar for the Parents and Families Network. He basically did more volunteering than I did in my whole life and I worked for the non profit industry. Yes, he is annoying like that.

He decided to put together a seminar to help parents deal with their children being gay or having gender identities questioning. I guess it will also probably mention how to talk about gay people to your children whether they are gay or not. I wondered when the kids would ask about Thor and Archibald’s sexuality. Being gay is so a non issue in our house that I never prepared myself for explaining what, for me, should not need any explanation whatsoever. I probably should though.

I should because the rest of world is not New York City. I should because being gay does not mean accepting being gay. Indeed, my child saying ‘Mom, I am gay’ is easy for me  to deal with but I would not know what to say if one day, they confessed ‘Mom, I am gay but I don’t want to be’. Yes, in a few years gay marriage may be legal but it does not mean people won’t hate gays anymore. Every day hate and prejudice will likely prevail beyond. The little sniggerring or not that funny fag jokes. They are the slow killers.

The trap not to fall into for ‘liberals’ (as we are being called here) like me is to think that we should not care for what gay haters or even gay neutral peeps – people who don’t hate gays but really, really don’t understand why we need to make such a fuss about equality because nobody really cares if you are gay or not…yeah, right – say. I think my kids will care. They will care that once they leave their home, they might face disgust and incomprehension and I should be thus prepared. Definitely asking DH for the PowerPoint handouts.