fathers, sons and heroes

Feminism has helped us uncover the many ways in which fathers make “good”, passive, obedient women out of their daughters, but generally the effect of fathering on sons’s socialization has been highly simplified, probably because no movement similar to the feminist movement has emerged in regards to the rights of children: Their subordination is still completely naturalized (while the oppression of the groups they have been approximated to like women, people of color or LGBT+ people is still the norm, it is now questioned).

Fathers produce patriarchal men, but how? First of all, we need to draw a distinction between people socially defined as “men” (mostly adult males, but not exclusively) and people socially defined as “boys” (mostly children or young adolescents, but not exclusively).

(White, cisgender, mostly heterosexual) men hold most of society’s power, boys have none and they are subordinated to both men and women, but men exercise the vast majority of physical and sexual violence against them, while most of women’s abuse towards boys is psychological and emotional.

For men, to experience violence in the context of the family is extremely rare, while for boys it’s the exception rather than the rule to not do (1). For (cisgender, heterosexual) men to experience sexual violence is extremely rare, while for boys it’s an highly common occurrence, despite the difficulties encountered while gathering data about CSA (hence why estimates tend to vary so much), the accepted figure is 1 in 6 (2).

Very often when discussing physical violence against them, we either conflate them with women with the phrase “women and children” (some boys are victimized by men in the same context as women, domestic violence, in that case the use of that phrase is appropriate, but the majority are victimized as a form of “discipline”, with the mother’s approval) or justify that violence, “spare the rod spoil the child”. When discussing sexual violence, the situation is even bleaker, and they are conflated with men, their aggressors. Sometimes, even transgender women are (An example: “They Treated Us in Monstrous Ways” Sexual Violence Against Men, Boys, and Transgender Women in the Syrian Conflict”, in this case, “men” are also the first to be mentioned!).

The distinction is not limited to the different way they are treated in society, this different treatment is itself the product of the different way they are perceived. We need to recognize that masculinity is defined not only in opposition to femininity, but also in opposition to boyishness (as phrases like “separating the men from the boys” might help us understand). From @albamiccio read more

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About the Author: K.Homer

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