So, Jody Allard has now publicly shamed her two teen sons (between 16 and 19, it seems, from her original post) a second time. During her first post, she talks about her position on rape culture and misogyny and how she must get them to see how they contribute to it, even by their silence.
I have compiled some thoughts for a friend. Any quotes of the original post that prompt my response are to be credited to her and not to me. I’ll be quoting inline to save you the time of going back and forth. However, it’s up to you if you want to toss her a hit to her site and actually read the entire thing.
They are good boys, in the ways good boys are, but they are not safe boys. I’m starting to believe there’s no such thing.
Of course there is no such thing. Men were not designed/evolved to be safe. If a woman is in danger (and lacks ability to defend or protect herself – not saying all women lack these!), a safe man won’t help her. She (and weaker men) need (even if they don’t want) the alpha unsafe male to do his thing; he makes unpopular decisions and takes unpopular actions to ensure the safety of those around him, but he is not safe himself. I gave her a piece of my mind in the comments on her original article. This desire for safe men is ruining real masculinity. Yes, I have very strong opinions on this.
I didn’t think it would be controversial when I wrote it; I was sure most parents grappled with raising sons in the midst of rape culture.
How could she not think it would be controversial? She’s either naive or unwisely living in her little, (not really) safe, progressive bubble. What about those of us who are raising daughters in rape culture? She’s totally diminishing the stress of parenting anyone who isn’t raising sons, but raising daughters instead. Parenting is hard work. Last night, I was present when my daughter addressed some things about one of her colleagues. She takes responsibility for her own mistakes and doesn’t push her expectations on others, beyond legal and professional ones. It’s her first job and she’s learning about corporate culture and responsibility. However, she recognizes that not everyone experiences morality the same.
He is angry at me now, although he won’t admit that either, and his anger led him to conservative websites and YouTube channels; places where he can surround himself with righteous indignation against feminists, and tell himself it’s ungrateful women like me who are the problem.
Of course he’s angry with her. She attacked his identity – not his behaviors. She attacked him for something he can’t control. Being a man. Oh, no. He went to conservative websites? If I ever shared my thoughts publicly regarding my daughters as being included in something I fear or hate (not that I have any), even with their permission (she said she had her sons’ permission, too), I’d expect anger, hurt, even retaliation that I’m the problem. I don’t remember all the details of her article last year, but I can totally get why her “good” son thinks his mother is part of the problem. That’s not to diminish the challenge of women who are single parents to sons. Not at all.
I teeter frequently between supporting my son and educating him. Is it my job as his mother to ensure he feels safe emotionally, no matter what violence he spews? Is it my job as his mother to steer and educate, no matter how much that education challenges his view of himself? I think it’s both, but the balance between the two has proven impossible to pinpoint. When I hear his voice become defensive, I back off but question whether I’m doing him any favors by allowing his perception of himself to go unchallenged. When I confront him with his own sexism, I question whether I’m pushing too hard and leaving him without an emotional safe space in his home.
Last year, the sons were 16 and 18. I think it’s safe to say that her job educating them is done or nearly done. For several years, it has not been her job to make them feel safe. The fact that he would get angry and irritated during those diner conversations surrounding yet another discussion of rape culture and misogyny… not unlike the frequent conversations in our house about adolescence issues, healthy and unhealthy behaviors, and friendships. She’s not okay with letting him be (in her eyes) completely wrong. My bride and I are often concerned our children might be wrong about things. However, if we shield them from that now, while under our roof, they won’t develop the skills necessary to experience disappointment and correction the hard way later through corrective action and documentation with their employers. No; she needs to let someone else challenge him.
As a single mother, I sometimes wonder whether the real problem is that my sons have no role models for the type of men I hope they become. But when I look around at the men I know, I’m not sure a male partner would fill that hole. Where are these men who are enlightened but not arrogant? Who are feminists without self-congratulation? If my sons need role models, they may have to become their own. … White people aren’t safe, and men aren’t safe, no matter how much I’d like to assure myself that these things aren’t true.
It’s not enough for her to want them to have role models for who she wants them to become, but who the world needs them to become – and she needs to recognize that the two potential results may not be identical. Only through adversity will a real man be shown who he is. (i wish I could take credit for that, but I read it somewhere; this note is to not take credit, but it’s to not plagiarize either. I just don’t remember where I saw it before). Who is she to say what’s enlightened? Her view is the only enlightened one? And who is she to say what’s arrogant? Feminists without self-contratulation? It’s like the meme about vegans and crossfitters. They can’t walk into a room without announcing their presence or proclivity to avoid animal products and participate in some extreme workout regimen.
If the feminist men — the men who proudly declare their progressive politics and their fight for quality — aren’t safe, then what man is? No man, I fear.
So, only progressives (she doesn’t use the word liberal, because progressive sounds forward-thinking) can be feminists? This woman needs to be shown a Venn diagram and explained that her boxes are not mutually exclusive positions. I know men, including myself, who believe and demonstrate that men and women are equals – but different. I work in a female-dominated field with male patients. I know I’m disadvantaged in some ways surrounding masculine and feminine stereotypes, and I’m working through that. Of course a feminist man isn’t safe. If he espouses the position that women can take care of themselves, he’s not going to defend her. If he defends her, he’s not a feminist (because she doesn’t need defending), and if he doesn’t, he’s silent in the face of misogyny. He cannot win within the framework of her position.
I do not want to prove my pain, or provide enough evidence to convince anyone that my trauma is merited. I’m through wasting my time on people who are more interested in ideas than feelings, and I’m through pretending these people, these men, are safe.
I recognize this woman writes from a position of having a traumatic past. She didn’t (and still doesn’t) deserve what happened to her. Many people put their insecurities on others based on their past. That seems to be what she’s doing here. Placing her questions, fears, and disappointments on her sons – unfairly. It’s like she blames them for her rape. Interestingly, feminism is based on ideas – not feelings. She’s duplicitous in her wanting to address her feelings. Perhaps a therapist can help her with that. I hope she finds peace in the midst of her pain.
I love my sons, and I love some individual men. It pains me to say that I don’t feel emotionally safe with them, and perhaps never have with a man, but it needs to be said because far too often we are afraid to say it.
Um. I don’t understand the idea of anyone having sex with someone with whom he or she doesn’t feel emotionally safe. Thus, I’m confused as to if she felt safe enough with their father(s) for their conception – Note: I don’t recall seeing if they were full or half-siblings. This is not a statement regarding promiscuity or an indictment on her character.
This is not a reflection of something broken or damaged in me; it is a reflection of the systems we build and our boys absorb. Those little boys grow into men who know the value of women, the value that’s been ascribed to us by a broken system, and it seeps out from them in a million tiny, toxic ways.
She refuses to look in the mirror of her own mind. First, she generalizes that “we are afraid to say it” and then she displaces her feeling of lack of safety to others, denying the brokenness in herself. We all have some form of brokenness. Hers is different than mine or yours.
I don’t know what the balance is between supporting these men and educating them, but I know the toll it takes on me to try. I am too valuable and too worthy to waste my time on men who are not my flesh and blood. But as my boys grow into men, I wonder whether I’ve done enough to combat the messages they hear from everyone but me. They are good boys, and maybe that’s the best they can be in the system we’ve created for them.
This is not the first time she talks about supporting and educating. Her kids are in their later teens. However, her position at this stage in her life is not to educate. And supporting them is different than it used to be. Unless someone is mandated, it is not possible to force education on them.
Those are my detailed thoughts. Overall, this perspective is hurtful to society. Just as the Genie from the Disney movie Aladdin says, “You can’t make anyone fall in love with anyone else.” We can’t make someone feel something, short of blatant psychological manipulation. Perhaps that’s why her sons are annoyed. They feel trapped in the conversation because of her authority as Mom and the location being the dinner table in her home. She is also removing their sense of individuation. As adolescents start to develop their own set of beliefs and morals, they step away from parents a bit to experience and test their beliefs in the world; she fears that. Generally speaking, though, mothers who fear their sons, fear them because of some psychopathological or sociopathological trait they see, like parents of serial killers. Perhaps these boys will be. But I doubt it. They will cut her off and she will be disappointed when they don’t let her see her grandchildren.
She will be lonely. And that makes me sad, even though it’s the consequence of her own actions.
I’d love to receive comments and feedback. I wanted to link this in my comments on her article as well, but the hate is strong against her and the comments were closed. Please consider sharing this post in your social media circles.