How many of you have heard these statements before?
-“When it comes to sex, men can’t control themselves.”
-“Look at how she dressed. What did she think would happen?”
Beliefs like the ones above can often become an excuse for cultures to carry on a way of thinking and acting that is disrespectful, degrading, and very harmful – in addition to be heteronormative and victim-blaming.
Where are these beliefs learned? The basis of these beliefs can frequently be found in our educational system and in our homes. Some schools in the USA have dress codes that state females cannot have their shoulders exposed. The exposed should is too much of a distraction. Often parents will teach the unhealthy concepts of “A real man …” and “A lady would never …” to their children.
The pressure to fit specific gender roles can be intimidating, inauthentic to the individual child, and unhealthy to one’s understanding of self.
With all the advances being made in addressing gender today, we still hear people blaming women for how they dress instead of expecting partners to respect the boundaries of every person. We still hear others relying on beliefs such as “Boys can’t control themselves.” Well if that is true, then said boys should stay away from society and/or get help.
People of all genders need to be taught from a young age that social interactions are to be founded in respect – for one’s self and others. If these interactions form relationships, they are then based on respect and treating another person with value.
To allow any gender to believe they can’t control themselves is to deny them a chance at having a mutually amazing, loving relationship. We need to teach young people that they are not mindless creatures whom are ruled by one’s sex drive. You are in control of your mind and body. You choose whether to treat others with respect. You are a caring, unique person and not a predetermined stereotype.
To teach any gender how they dress will determine how others treat them and dictate the value of their being is both ridiculous and dangerous (leads to victim blaming sexual assault survivors). Instead, teach all young people that who you are as a person is what matters. Be You.
Instead of worrying “how to raise a young man or a young woman,” focus on raising a great person who understands and respects each person!!