For my aunt Valerie, who raised my cousins Daniel and Bryan to be the kind of men worth writing about.
When I am a mother, I will teach my son
to treat every woman like they were his mother or sister.
because all women could be me:
from the stern-faced schoolmarm
to the pretty co-ed in his math class.
I want to hear that he didn’t go home alone
because he was worried his date was too drunk to drive.
If he’s friendzoned, I will let him rage into my shoulder
but after it’s over I want to hear him say
“You can’t make everyone love you;
you can only try.”
I want him to wear the badge of “Nice Guy”
with pride, because for all his faults—
because he will be my son after all—
he would have learned to see people as people and not private parts.
When he is the designated driver,
the concerned caller,
the I-know-I’m-tipsy-but-this-is-a-bad-idea-guys I will be proud,
even when I’m grounding him (for life!) for sneaking out,
because before he made a move he asked,
because he believes in boundaries. In purity.
Because when she said “No.” he understood she meant it.
And even if she didn’t he didn’t bother.
Because to him #YesAllWomen matter.
Because his mother is one. Because his sister is one.
Because fetching a lady a glass of water isn’t a sign of “female privilege”
but of respect. Done without ceremony or expectation.
A signal to the world not that he was raised right,
but that he believes in a raised standard.
When he falls in love I want to hear him say “I’m lucky to have her.”
And hear her answer that “I’m lucky to have him too.”
When I am a mother, I want to raise my son
so that he’s not afraid to say “I stand with women”
“Because I know that real masculinity it is not threatened
by respecting the feminine.”
“Because rape jokes and rude words aren’t all that it takes to be funny.”
“Because a woman always stood for me.”
Because I will stand for him.
Even if he says girls are gross.
Even when he bullies his sister or his sister’s friends.
Even when I am yelling at him for doing all those things.
I will love him. And I hope that love is enough
to show him that women aren’t the enemy.
They are partners. They are help-mates.
They are “It is not good for man to be alone,
I will make for him a warrior queen to rule by his side.
Bone of his bone. Flesh of his flesh.
Made from a rib held right by his heart.”
I hope he remembers all this. I will do my best to teach him.
And though I’m not sure I will always get it right, I will try.