June
18th 2009
Happy Father’s Day?

Posted under: childhood, Gender, unhappy endings, women's history

happyfamilyClio Bluestocking has written a brave and disturbing post about her childhood and adolescence called “Daddy Issues.”  Go read it now–here’s a sample from the conclusion, in which her father tells her that if a man used her sexually and then showed contempt for her, “I’d feel sorry for you, . . . but I’d understand him:”

In that moment, I knew that my father did not respect me. After 2 decades of similar incidents, I finally realized that by simple fact of 2 X chromosomes, I was never going to be a full person to him. My brothers would go through the world as men, while I was supposed to go through the world for men. Men were full people, and I was not. What’s more, I was supposed to embrace that role, and any rejection of it was a problem with me, not with the world.

.       .       .       .       .       .       .       .       .       .       .       .      

Then, you get nephews. Sweet, interesting, little boys who could grow up to be sweet, interesting grown men. Could. They think that you are kinda cool too, because they are little boys and have no real frame of reference. Then, you see their fathers (your brothers) and their grandfather, praising them for grabbing women’s breast, teaching them to say the most disgusting sexist words, and telling them that if they whine or cry (as small children do) that they are being “girls” and being a “girl” is bad. You see that, and you see these sweet little boys are being taught to hate you. 

You know that this same process is going on in a million houses with a million little boys, too young to know the difference. They will grow up and marry women who give the shrug of capitulation to sexism and raise more misogynists. That is how misogyny is taught and learned; and it is an ugly, soul-killing sight.

This post was inspired by a man on the Tonight Show who recounted his toddler son’s sexualized aggression with his babysitter.  Ha-ha!  Women’s bodies are just for males to grab, poke, and twist around any way they like–even when those males are toddler boys.  Hilarious!  Nice going, NBC–I hope you continue to enjoy that long ratings slide to the basement.  As Melissa McEwan writes,

There’s so much wrong with this, I hardly know where to begin. The casual hilarity of sexual assault, the implied “just desserts” for the high school ice queen, the invasion of her privacy (twice), the invasion of the son’s privacy, the inappropriate behavior of a curious child recast as sexual aggression, the fatherly pride of a sexually aggressive son, the collusion of the show host and audience in rescuing this vile anecdote by pretending it’s harmless and funny, the deeming of this content as appropriate for a national audience…

Is there any other class or category of persons that parents would actively encourage their children to treat this way?  The creepy fascination of the supposed “adult” man with the teenaged babysitter, and his pleasure in permitting his son to serve as his proxy in feeling her up, really makes me feel vindicated in not having done a lot of babysitting as a teenager myself.

8 Comments »

8 Responses to “Happy Father’s Day?”

  1. Lilian Nattel on 18 Jun 2009 at 11:40 am #

    It’s unspeakable.

  2. Susan on 18 Jun 2009 at 2:50 pm #

    It’s so squicky I can’t really get my head around it.

    But real…

  3. Susan on 18 Jun 2009 at 3:05 pm #

    A little more, prompted by all this. My brother is the youngest of three; my parents were divorced when he was a toddler, so he was raised by my mother, with two older sisters. None of us are shrinking violets. When I was in high school, I babysat for a couple who lived near us. He was a psychiatrist… he kept saying to my mother how hard it must be for my brother to be raised with “such strong women”. My mother always took it as a “threat” that her son would be gay. But none of us were less “strong” to make sure it didn’t happen!

  4. Historiann on 18 Jun 2009 at 3:48 pm #

    Susan–good point. Whereas girls become victims of the poking, grabbing, and leering (as well as psychological bullying) at adolescence, it’s *little* boys who are subjected to bullying in toddlerhood, as your comment and Clio B’s original post suggests.

    A small person in my family was teased at AGE 3 because some neighbor boys saw him outside wearing a dress while playing dressup. Boys are bullied so young to fear not just gender queerness, but are even menaced to conform to a shockingly narrow range of play activities.

    Are other boys’ and men’s sex/gender identities so unstable that they’re really threatened by a three year-old playing dressup in his own yard? Apparently so.

  5. Bavardess on 18 Jun 2009 at 5:00 pm #

    I found both those posts incredibly disturbing. In the case of the TV presenter, if he’d been sexualising his 3 or 4 year old daughter in that way (with a male babysitter), it would have been viewed as completely inappropriate (if not abusive). But because it was a boy, it seems to be accepted on the continuum of displays of ‘normal’ masculinity. The story brought back some long-buried squicky memories of teenage babysitting – having a 40 year old man leering at me and making sexual comments while his wife was upstairs getting ready. Blech.

  6. Indyanna on 18 Jun 2009 at 8:51 pm #

    This one deserved a long[er] thread by this time, but all day long it was just too depressing to address, much less to even click on the links. I suspect other commenters felt the same way. Those guys profiled above are pretty pathetic.

  7. Rad Readr on 18 Jun 2009 at 10:06 pm #

    That is a tough post on Clio Bluestocking’s blog.

  8. ADM on 18 Jun 2009 at 11:11 pm #

    squick x infinity