I remember the day we found out that you were our little boy. It was about halfway through my pregnancy and I was convinced you were a girl. Not because I prefer pink over blue, but because 13 year old girl hormones do not even come close to the scariness, pressure and intimidation of raising a good man. It terrified me.
I am surrounded by good men. My father, husband and brother are the best of the best. Honest. Honorable. Loving. Respectful of women. But they are a rare breed and seem to be becoming extinct. I knew that my baby boy inside of me had to be one of these honorable men. That would be the only way. I would have no choice but to teach my son and surround him with examples of what it is to be a good man.
So son, I share with you this: your choices do not only effect you, but everyone in your life. Please choose wisely. Choose respectfully. Realize it is not only you that matters. REALIZE YOUR CHOICES TODAY IMPACT SOMEONE ELSE'S EVERY TOMORROW.
I love you. And part of loving you is teaching you respect of everyone, especial women, and never making excuses for or accepting anything less. When you go to kindergarten and find your first crush, I will have already instilled these values in you. Why? Because no matter how young you are, it IS NOT CUTE to misunderstand what "no" means. And it is certainly not cute to minimize adult feelings and responsibility, implying that having "boyfriends" and "girlfriends" is appropriate while being so young. You can be sure I will NEVER encourage the behavior of chasing a girl around a playground or giving kisses. IT IS NOT CUTE.
It will never be cute to see you or anyone else being ignorant and disrespectful towards a girl's wishes and limitations regarding her own body, no matter how old you are. So to make sure you know it at your prom and in college and as an adult, I will teach you now. It is not cute to disrespect women now or ever.
Yes, all women have been hurt. But all men do not have to hurt women. Again, choose wisely. No means no. Not keep asking. Not later. Not get me drunk. Not I'm saying no but I don't mean it. NO MEANS NO. And not saying no does not mean yes either.
When a man makes a choice to not respect a girl or woman's no, it is not a choice that is forgotten by her. In fact it will affect each day after that. You need to know that you can never be selfish enough to think a few good minutes of your life are worth jeopardizing someone else's well being. Your choice today will affect each of their tomorrows.
When boys and men make the choice to ignore a woman's "no", men can just move on. However those girls and women will never forget their "no" going unlistened to and disrespected. You will go on to date other women. She will question every man and be wary of even the good ones. The idea of being attractive to other men is terrifying. she will dress and behave in a way to do all she can to go unnoticed. You will go on to have relationships. She will constantly question her judgment, safety and ability to trust. You will get engaged. She will feel too broken to have hope for her own future. You will get married. She will wonder why she wasn't good enough for you to respect. You will have a baby. This will shatter her. Your wife whom you have somehow managed to show some respect for will have that baby emotionally effortlessly without replaying how you have traumatized her. But she, the other girl you did not respect, will not be able to have her baby without assistance. The thought of making her feel anything like the way you made her feel is terrifying. More terrifying than having her baby cut out of her.
When you make a choice to disrespect a woman like that, you make the choice to take away part of her that she will never get back. The part that is able to trust, be vulnerable and be completely loved. When that part is gone she will never feel in control of her life or herself again.
Until she reclaims her body and demands respect for herself from herself and others. Until she realizes she does not have to continue paying for your selfish mistake. UNTIL SHE REALIZES YOUR MISTAKE DOESN'T DEFINE HER. Until she realizes there are men like you out there; ones who are respectful of the worthy of love women we are.
Son, I hope this scares you. I hope this makes you angry. So angry that this has happened to so many women you love and continues to happen. I hope it makes you angry enough to turn it into a priority to be respectful of women. To understand that no always means no. No matter what. Every woman will be hurt somehow, big or small. But you, Son, are better than that. Every woman will be hurt, but every man does not need to be hurtful. You are part of me and you will know better than that. You are better than that.