#ManEnough #redefinemasculinity

Last post, I spoke about “boys will be boys” and our need to change the culture of men. Interestingly enough, I have had women come out of the woodwork, needing sessions because watching news on Harvey Weinstein and constantly hearing #metoo stories have triggered them back into PTSD. I could write forever on this topic, both personally and therapeutically. However, I really wanted to have a direction and as stated from my last post, give concrete tools on how to raise our young boys.

Last week, I had a client angered by men going to “rehab” to fix their “problem” in a luxurious, high-end, five-star rehab facility to supposedly understand their behaviors, when they will never experience the mental, physical, emotional, spiritual anguish along with the damaging ways they have sexually violated us. Unfortunately, I agree whole-heartedly with this client and although I have my own two cents with regards to what I believe “rehabilitation” should consist of (think of boot camp-style facility with no affluent amenities), I was so relieved and felt a sense of renewal to come across Justin Baldoni’s Instagram posts. I instantly re-directed and felt more compelled to use his Hashtags of #ManEnough and #redefinemasculinity than using #metoo.

If you don’t already follow Justin Baldoni, I highly encourage you to. As a father to a daughter, and now a new son, he understands the immense responsibility we have to our children. Not only to empower our daughters, but also to redefine what manhood should be for our sons.

Being “Man Enough” should not equate to physicality or physical strength being projected into sexual prowess towards women in a violating manner. So, what are tools we can give our sons to change the culture of what has been accepted by society?

*First and foremost, be honest with the men in our lives and let them know in the most direct manner how we feel about specific behaviors or verbiage they use that come across demeaning or derogatory. Often times, they are unaware of how we feel about specific comments and in turn, they feel it is ok to continue with such “humor” or commentary. In addition, teach your sons that under NO circumstance is he ever to call a female a swear word. EVER! I am amazed at the couples who come in and call each other names, let alone swear at each other. It is not constructive, nor is it uplifting. (Even if it’s a joke – calling a woman a b*tch is not funny to me no matter the context.) And, if a female is calling your son a swear word, it is time for your son to walk away. We need to honor each other with our words and not be destructive.

*Talk with your sons about girls’ sexuality. My son has 4 sisters, but he did not become sensitive to their being until his peers began to talk about “girls who wear bikinis or have big breasts are sexy.” I am very honest with my children and as my son goes through puberty, it is very important for him to hear from me (and his sisters) as to what we think and feel when males talk about our physicality in a purely sexual manner.

* Chivalry is about being a man. It should NOT be dead. Yes, “feminism” has confused men into believing they should no longer open the door for a woman, or carry their bags, or pay for a meal. Men in my practice actually disclose feelings of frustration and contradiction because women will either yell at them because they can “do it themselves” or because they wish their mate would be more “thoughtful.” Boys – do not be discouraged and continue to behave in a gentleman-like way. I remind my son to always let a woman go first, help their sisters when they are carrying too many bags, open their doors, walk behind them when walking up the stairs, etc. And, when women scoff at that and consider that anti-feminist and insulting, this is my response: the Queen of England is the most feminist woman I know who not only is the Head of the Commonwealth, but is also the Queen of 12 countries!! A leader and yet a woman who still expects a man to open the door for her, assist her in carrying items, allows her to go first, and so on. She commands respect and so should we all. We should not be ashamed of our femininity and we should allow men to acknowledge it – it is not insulting, it is respectful!

* Be honest with your son regarding sexual temptation and the effects of pornography. Please do not normalize these behaviors; rather educate them. It is important to keep an open door of education when these topics arise because they are bombarded by too much mis-information from the web and their peers. I have already spoken to my son regarding the moments when he may feel tempted or peer pressured and how to cope with those feelings, so as to never disrespect any female. Remind him always that “NO means NO! and STOP means STOP!” Always. With no exceptions.

* Role play with your son how to stand up and protect females. One of my proudest moments I had was a few years ago. A couple mothers from school called to thank me because my son intervened and “protected” their daughters from being teased and harassed by a few boys in their class. The boys were making fun of how the girls looked and were also trying to take their money from them. Boys will encounter situations in which their peers are mistreating girls. It is important to role play with your son how to have courage and stand up for girls, while risking being made fun of or taunted themselves.

* Surround your son with kind men who speak of and treat women in the utmost respect. There are many men out there who really are good men. Those are the men we should be celebrating and focusing on, not the Harvey Weinstein of the world.

 

These are only a few of the tools I use with not only my son, but some of my clients. Open the door, talk with your son, and let me know how it goes…

 

Charise

Charise Casiano

About Charise Casiano

Charise obtained her BA degree at California State University, Stanislaus and immediately pursued her MS degree at Mount Saint Mary’s College. During her college years, Charise left for one year to do missionary work. She traveled the United States troubleshooting with teenagers.