[Admin note: I had intended with the new year to write more about teaching young men more realistic lessons where it concerns women. I have been too busy to get to it so far, which made finding this and other efforts by Dr. Palmatier all the more satisfying. Her site is shrink4men.com and you can link to original article here. This article is reprinted here with permission- PE]
To write this article, I did an internet search for the phrase, “Teaching boys about bad women.” The top results are links to content about “Why women like bad boys.” Next, I searched the phrase, “Teaching sons about bad women.” The top results are “Teaching your son to respect women” and “What appeals to women about bad boys.” “Teaching your son about relationships” yielded the post on The Frisky, which I discuss in the Shrink4Men article, 22 Things to Teach your Son about Women.
“Teaching boys about women” also didn’t yield any useful results. Then I searched “Teaching boys about domestic violence.” Again, the search yielded more results about teaching boys to respect women and the tired old rot about men are always the aggressors and women are always the victims.
This isn’t surprising. In the mid-1990s, I did my Masters-level internship at a domestic violence shelter for women and their children. I have fairly decent drawing and illustration skills, so one of the projects I worked on was a K-12 Domestic Violence education program.
I created drawings for a coloring book and poster boards for classroom presentations. Some of the images I created were of little girls hitting boys; the message being, “Hitting is wrong no matter who is doing the hitting.” The program wouldn’t use the illustrations of girls hitting boys with the justification, “Men are physically stronger than women.” Uh, not when they’re 5-years old and, by the way, physical size doesn’t matter as it pertains to domestic violence. Sadly, things haven’t changed much in the field since my exposure to it in 1995.
Obviously, there is a glaring double standard in our society regarding violence against women and violence against men. Dr Phil believes it’s abuse when a man hits a woman and that it’s a “relationship issue” when a woman hits a man. TV networks run “funny” ads in which men are kicked in the groin repeatedly and wives are portrayed as all-knowing sages who keep their imbecile husbands in check. Women who assault their male partners because they suspect infidelity, like Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren, are lauded as heroes and publicly supported with statements such as, “He had it coming!” and “You go, girl!” Imagine the public outcry if the genders were reversed in these scenarios.
As I learned during my internship in 1995, domestic violence prevention school programs teach children that it’s wrong to hit a girl or a woman under any circumstances, but rarely, if ever, teach the same about hitting boys and men. Parents teach their daughters to be wary of boys and men who will take advantage of them sexually, control and/or abuse them. We teach little girls that there are bad men out there and they need to be careful. In fact, some women take it to the extreme and teach their girls and boys that all men are bad. I for one, believe this is a form of hate indoctrination and a form of child abuse.
Why don’t families provide the same cautions to their sons about abusive girls and women who will try to take advantage of them, control and abuse them?
Families need to teach their sons about the dangers of abusive women just like we teach our daughters about the dangers of abusive men. We need to teach our boys to respect themselves and develop healthy boundaries—even if it’s a woman who is violating them. We need to teach boys that it’s healthy and right to walk (or run) away from girls and women who are disrespectful, cruel, indifferent, demanding, controlling, demeaning, manipulative, opportunistic, possessive, jealous, emotionally dishonest, unempathic, abusive, crazy and/or predatory.
We need to teach our boys, just like we teach our girls, that it’s not okay for a loved one or anyone to lay their hands upon you in violence; that it’s wrong to be taken advantage of financially (i.e., he earns all of the money and she spends it all while running up debt and refusing to work); we need to teach them the warning signs and symptoms of abuse and that’s there’s no shame in admitting they’re in an abusive relationship and that men, just like women, don’t owe their abuser a damned thing except a view of their backsides walking away from them and, in some cases, a trip to the local jailhouse. We need to teach our boys that tolerating abuse from a woman doesn’t make them “men;” it makes them victims and suckers for buying into the bull that abuse isn’t abuse when the perpetrator is a female.
We need to provide boys and young men the same information and supports we provide girls and women. Predators come in all shapes, sizes and sexes and we need to teach our children, girls and boys, how to avoid and protect themselves from manipulative, abusive predators. We also need to stop normalizing predatory behaviors in females exhibited in high-conflict and personality-disordered types as normal and/or acceptable female behavior. These behaviors are not normal.It’s just as bad and pathological when women exhibit abusive behaviors and they should receive the same public censure, condemnation, ostracism, court fines and jail time as male abusers.
I implore mothers and fathers to discuss these issues when they feel it’s time for the birds and bees talk with both their daughters and sons. Trust me, you don’t want these kinds of women as future daughters-in-law.