You will come to know this about me as you get older, but I am a feminist. I'm liberal. I'm a freethinking, peace-love-and-all-that-stuff sorta woman. I believe in women's rights, and their ability to know what is best for their bodies, careers, and lives. Most of all, I believe in humanity. Or I like to think I do. Ask me in ten years how I feel about that, because based on the things I've witnessed lately, I think that opinion might change.
I hope, how I hope, that I raise you to be a respectful, courteous member of society. I hope you challenge authority when it's appropriate. I hope you ask questions and search for answers instead of blindly following the pack. I hope you are comfortable enough in your skin to chase whatever dream you have, to love whom you wish to love, and be exactly who you want to be.
But, dear son, I hope most of all that you do not turn into the vile creatures that seem to loom in the bottom of the internet. I will love you, of course, because a mother's love is enduring, but I can't say that I will support you. No, I know I will not support you, and I will expect that you will take accountability for your actions should you find yourself mingling with such disgusting scum. Because, yes, that is what they are, these people who lurk in the crevices of the internet and believe their needs trump the basic rights of others. They are scum, and you should know that, first and foremost.
If you end up being a straight male, heck, even if you are a gay man, I expect that you will always show respect to your partners or those you are attracted to. I expect that you will understand boundaries and refrain from believing that your entertainment or pleasure is greater than that of those who cross your path. I expect that you will not objectify or exploit women or men. I expect that you will never take a picture of a woman for the sheer point of posting it for other men to leer and sexualize. I expect that you will understand that no always means NO, even if that no comes in the form of body language. You do not have the right to anyone or anything just because they wandered out into public.
I expect that you will not troll the internet looking for drama or creating drama, threatening people, or posting lewd pictures of unaware people for your own pleasure. I expect that you will not post or do anything that would make your father and I hang our heads in complete shame. I expect that you will understand that these sorts of things are a gateway; a gateway that leads to further sexually predatory behavior. I expect that you will never feel so worthless about yourself that you believe that you have a right to this sort of sickening behavior, even on a faceless internet profile.
I know that I have raised you to this day to be respectful of others, yourself, and other's property. You know how to say please and thank you. When you hurt someone, you can show empathy and concern. I'd like to believe that those that live in the internet cesspool, at one point, had these traits too. I like to believe that they somehow lost out on their humanity and basic understanding. That their sickness is not something that the rest of us will have to contend with.
No woman or man should have to go out in public and fear that they will be assaulted or spoken about in a lewd manner. No woman or man should have to fear walking home alone, or fear having their picture taken in a sexual manner for someone else's pleasure. No woman or man should think that this sort of predatory behavior is okay, regardless of law.
Just because there is no law, dear Potato, doesn't mean you can act like a classless, sex-driven savage. There are unspoken respect driven laws that are in this world. I hope that I raise you well enough to know that they exist whether they are protected by our law enforcement or not. I hope that I raised you in such a way that you will not use the internet as a weapon against other men or women and that you have a decent, inherent respect for other human beings.
Because, if I ever find your profile picture on a page like this, (and yes, I will still be internet saavy at that age, thankyouverymuch), I will know that I have failed as a mother. I will make sure you find every single woman or man you objectified and apologize. If necessary, I will help turn you in so you can get better and be a better person. Don't let anyone tell you differently: the men and women who act like this and believe that they have the right to publicly objectify a woman or man for their pleasure are sick. Potato, they are very, very sick.
You are a kindhearted, sweet little boy; the idea that you could be one of those men one day makes me want to vomit. The reality is though that those men have mothers, and I'm sure their mothers will be just as horrified to know their sons behave like they do, even on the internet. Anyone with basic good in them finds it shocking. I can't possibly know what the future holds for you, but I hope, expect, and beg that you stay the decent human you are, even at four. Don't lose it, don't forget how valuable it is to be the nice guy, because as much as they say nice guys finish last, the bad guys do finish last.
Bad guys are the ones that we fear, the ones that end up in jail, and the ones who intrude on boundaries, violate others emotionally and physically, and believe they are better than or above the law. You are not one of those guys. You do not want to be one of those guys.
I love you. I expect that I will teach you to love yourself enough to treat other people with the respect and dignity they deserve. Because, at the end of the day, this sort of behavior is just a huge indicator of a loss of self-worth.
You are worth a lot, never forget that. Please, don't play with those sorts of kids, okay?
Danielle rants blogs about her life with her two parented children, and other issues surrounding modern day parenting at Tales From The Mamaside. She also writes about her experience being a birthmother in a semi-open adoption at Another Version Of Mother.
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