It’s frankly adorable when they’re this age. And so easy to indulge.
My sons love, love, love their mummy. They tackle hug me impulsively and cover me in kisses. They shake their naked booties at me with impish glee. My boys think their penises are hysterical (I agree) and point them at each other — and their mother — like guns when they frolic in the bathtub together.
As the mother of sons, I know that, if unchecked, the innocent joy my little boys derive from the power of their bodies could be corrupted and weaponised against people they seek to control.
Unrestrained tackle hugging may some day turn into pinning an unwilling woman against a wall, kissing her over and over again while his victim endures his hot breath, his saliva dripping off her mouth.
“Whoa, buddy! I wasn’t ready for that and you’re being too rough. I almost fell and hurt myself. Next time please ask if I want a hug so I can get ready.”
My son steps back and smiles. He holds out his arms. “Can I give you a hug?”
“YES! I would love a hug! I want you to give me all the hugs you have!”
“We don’t really need to teach our sons not to rape,” a mother — and lifelong Democrat and self-described feminist declared in a recent New York Times article. Her son was expelled from college after he was accused of sexual assault.
“In my generation, what these girls are going through was never considered assault,” she said. “It was considered, ‘I was stupid and I got embarrassed.’”
As the mother of sons, my nightmare is not that they will be falsely accused of sexual misconduct, but that my indulgence of their rowdy affection and lack of physical boundaries will someday lead to the dehumanisation of someone.
Version A: She let him get her drunk. She let him flirt with her. She played hard-to-get. She let him kiss her. She smiled and laughed when she said “stop,” so she didn’t really want him to stop. She made him think she wanted it.
Let’s put the focus on what he did versus what she “let him” do.
Version B: He wanted her. He bought her drink after drink, insisting she do shots with him — even when she seemed incapacitated. He followed her around, complimenting her on her body, leaning in close — even when she sought other friends to talk with so she could shield herself from him. When he found her alone, he grabbed her and kissed her, shoving his tongue down her throat — even when she smiled and laughed nervously and said “stop.”
Which version do you think is the one he told his mother?
“I asked you not to do that,” my son’s birthday party guest frowns as my son embraces her in a goodbye hug while she puts her coat on to leave.
“Oh, he just wants to say goodbye,” the girl’s mother chides. “He likes you. Can you give him a hug back?”
The girl looks down.
“Go on. Give your friend a hug.”