Upon hearing the news of abuse and sexual harassment by men in power like Harvey Weinstein (and Bill Cosby and Donald Trump and all those who still go unnamed), it's becoming common to respond with a sort of resigned outrage. A couple of days ago, Mayim Bialik penned a piece in her online community GrokNation about how she wasn't surprised to hear of the Weinstein allegations, writing, "It is my assumption, sadly, that this is just what happens all of the time." This is what power and patriarchy look like, she says, and it sucks.
But Bialik was pressed by her friends, who perhaps thought her views kind of looked like complacency. One friend, GrokNation editor Avital Norman Nathman, asked her a question that shocked her. It was: "Will your boys be like this?" She was asking Bialik if she herself is raising her two sons to become men whom girls and women will fear.
Bialik had to think deeply about it, but she concludes that no, her boys will not likely become predators like Weinstein. In this video, she explains why, and what parents can do to raise their kids differently, too.
A few takeaways:
- Teach consent -- early. Bialik tells her boys, "You do not have the right to touch someone if they don't want to be touched. That goes for friends, girlfriends, neighbours, even family. And if you don't want to be touched, even by your own mother, you have a right to not be touched. Absolutely, with no exceptions."
- Make sure kids understand that they are responsible for where they are. Says Bialik, "If you are in a place where there are bad things going on, leave and report it."
- Tell kids to pay special attention to those who have not been respected historically. That includes women, people of colour, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and those of different socio economic statuses. These people, Bialik says, are "most affected by what we call patriarchy".
You can't singlehandedly end patriarchy or rape culture, but you can help change the rules of the culture, one conversation with your kid at a time. As Bialik explains, "It is not your responsibility to complete the work, but neither is it for you to ignore it."