Why we need to raise sons who will not treat women as objects...
In a poem titled ‘Minnie’s Mother’s Red Dress’ penned by playwright
Carol Lynn Pearson, a mother is telling her daughter not to become like
her. She, Millie’s mother, existed only to give - of her time, energy
and love to her husband and the children. Even on her death bed, her
husband tells her you can’t go, how would I manage…she tells Millie how
she raised her sons to regard women as mere vessels that exist to give.
The jest of the poem exhorts us to also take care of ourselves as
women, not only 'exist’ to give and give and give to our families who
sometimes do all the taking.
The highlight of the poem is a red dress Millie’s mother bought but
never wore - her husband joked, where would you wear that to? In the
end, the dress, unworn, went to the grave with her, shining among the
usual drab clothes she wore everyday.
Everytime I think of how mothers could raise their sons better, mine
included, this poem never fails to remind me just how much it needs to
This is more so in today’s society where rapes are as common as colds
and men think of nothing to raise a hand against a woman. Not a day goes
by without a report on yet another rape taking place. We as mothers need
to go one step beyond our mothers and grandmothers who doted on their
sons and treated their daughters with much less respect.
The old sayings taught the mothers of yesteryear that the sons
inherited the family name and the heritage of the family whereas the
daughter went out of the home to marry a man. And so, tradition demanded
that the house be written in the name of the son, and the youngest at
that; special treatment was reserved for the sons in most traditional
Sons were served first at meal times and had access to plum portions.
Like Millie’s mother, most older generation mothers unknowingly taught
their sons to be self-centred and to regard women as vessels of supply -
supplying heirs, meals, household chores and sex in bed.
A generation or two later, we as mothers don’t seem to have done much
better. Young men and boys who belong to the Internet generation do not
hesitate to call women ‘baduwa’ (Thing) and ‘kalle’ (Piece).
They do not hesitate to try approaching any woman with sexual
advances. You can be sure that if you try to return a missed call, often
if the caller is not identified, he would try to stalk you. On the
streets, many will not pass you by until they can whisper a dirty word
in your ear. Sometimes, you wonder do they have mothers or sisters when
they insult women so much.
It is not just the insult but the way they view women that troubles
me as a mother. The fact that a 15 year old boy raped a six year old
girl, was abusing her for a long time before dumping her in a canal,
shows what kind of regard he has had for women on the whole.
Some are eager to blame Internet porn but in that case, the West
should be exploding with rapes. Sure, Internet porn is an issue that
must be dealt with but that is not the cause. Causes usually have roots
and it sounds like the roots are deep buried in the upbringing of the
majority of Sri Lankan men that tells them that women are disposable.
Like a lunch sheet you throw away after eating the meal.
Character building traits
Of course, for every sexually perverted man, there are good men well
brought up and who have made fine husbands and excellent sons and
fathers. But sadly, that does not extend to the majority. The comments
made on Internet sites involving movie stars are downright degradable
and always assume the actresses are easy game.
I personally believe every mother owes it to herself to teach her son
to be respectful towards women, herself and her daughters. It must be an
effort that must be deliberately put into practice.
We would reap rich rewards if we all as mothers, consciously try to
engage in such character building traits.
It takes an effort to mould the characters of young men who are
impressionable. They usually learn by example - if they see their
fathers treat the women in the family with contempt, they would not
hesitate to follow suit. Teaching them to get good grades is important
but it is equally vital to pass on good values to them.
We as parents have a bigger role to play in the development of their
characters and lives than we assume.
Nothing is more of a blessing to the society than a well brought up