An honorable man doesn’t have to be told what is right

Posted: March 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

I have a son.

We spent a lot of time together when he was a child, some of it beyond what one might think of as the typical time and scope of the mother-son relationship because I coached his football, basketball and baseball teams.

Among the things he learned from having his mother as the head football coach was not to take offense when someone called him a “momma’s boy.” He proudly retorted, “Yeah, so?” Or when playing sports if someone said to one of his teammates “You throw like a girl” he would tell them, “That’s a compliment!”

As a coach and as a parent there were things I tried to teach him and all of the young men with whom I interacted. Many of them lived with only mothers or grandmothers and they didn’t have male role models in their homes. I made sure they learned from the experience of playing on my teams and interacting with my family to understand that to be men they had to respect women.

My son learned to be a man not just from seeing his mother in nontraditional roles, but from spending a lot of time with me, his beloved grandmother and his favorite aunt. The women in his life were instrumental in helping to make him into the young man he has become.

The young man he has become opens the car door for me when he drives. He holds open the door for others before entering a building. He helps mothers load their baby strollers onto buses. He helps little old ladies cross the street, really. He is, in short, a perfect gentleman. He does these things reflexively, not because he expects to get anything from doing them.

He also calls his mother almost every day  and he has done so almost every day since he left home to be on his own.

We’ve talked about the love of his life, and how she broke his heart. We’ve talked about the young women he has loved and dated before and since then.

We don’t talk about it, but I assume he is sexually active. He’s a good looking young fellow in his mid-twenties.

We’ve joked about the grandchildren I assume won’t be showing up unannounced on my doorstep someday. In those discussions, in those jokes there are assumptions. There is an assumption, certainly on my part, that someone in the relationship is using birth control and that the someone is the girl. I also assume that he doesn’t think of her as a “slut” or a “whore” or a “prostitute” for doing so, and would never tolerate someone using those words about one of his exes. I also have two daughters.

Although my son fought mightily with his sisters when they were children, no one outside of the family –then or now – better ever say a word against them. He was fiercely protective of them – and they of him – and he remains so to this day.

There are two points I want to make here. One is that I hope I raised a man who knows that he is just as responsible for birth control as the woman in a relationship and two, I know I raised a man who is responsible for a woman’s honor. I expect that those values are so ingrained that no one should have to tell him to take action if they come under attack.

When Republicans decide to go after contraception I don’t expect my son to dismiss it as a “women’s” issue and something of no concern to him. Also, when a talk radio host like Rush Limbaugh calls women “sluts” and “prostitutes” I expect him to take the utmost offense. There would be hell for him to pay if I found out that I was wrong!

At the core of everything he is and does is the concept that he has learned that he must stand up for what is clearly right.  I would be furious to find him in a leadership position saying “those are not the words I would have used,” or “an entertainer can be absurd” or “the use of those words was inappropriate.”

As a teenager my son had thoughts of becoming a politician. Had he done so, should he ever do so, I’d be extremely disappointed and embarrassed to find that he is no longer standing up for his sisters, his mother, his aunts and his grandmother’s legacy. When Rush Limbaugh attacked Georgetown Law Student Sandra Fluke last week, he attacked me, my daughters, my sisters and all of the other sisters and mothers out there who dare to speak their minds about our needs; the so-called “femi-nazis.”

As his mother I would be extremely disappointed if he were a Republican in today’s world but I’d be even more disappointed in him if someone had to tell him to do the right thing. An honorable man knows that a “women’s” issue is really an “everyperson’s” issue.

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