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February 15, 2012 9:50 AM   Subscribe


 
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posted by Dr. Twist at 9:53 AM on February 15, 2012


You know what? I seriously had never thought about it that way. I have that high, dizzy feeling like I got when reading Susan Faludi's Backlash - something familiar made strange and revealed to be profoundly disturbing.
posted by artemisia at 9:55 AM on February 15, 2012 [24 favorites]


If you try and feed MY daughter that crap, you better bring protective gear because I am going to shower you with the brand of “affection” you are endorsing.

Look, if you want to tell your reader that physically attacking people is an way to express disagreement, I urge you to rethink your rhetorical strategy.
posted by Dasein at 9:55 AM on February 15, 2012 [55 favorites]


There has been several times when...

Her point is an interesting one, but damn if I didn't read that sentence and think, "using that language around your daughter is probably more damaging than whatever's happening on the playground."

I am a terrible person.
posted by phunniemee at 9:58 AM on February 15, 2012 [10 favorites]


The intent appears to be more along the lines of cathartic venting than persuasive rhetoric, in which case I think it succeeds admirably.
posted by Zozo at 9:59 AM on February 15, 2012 [31 favorites]


*standing and applauding*

I was told the same the same thing. And being told something like this, which utterly undercuts your sense of reality, was part of the parade of WTF that learning about how I was a "girl", instead of a human being, involved.
posted by jokeefe at 10:00 AM on February 15, 2012 [41 favorites]


I read the article, and all I can say as a parent of two boys is these days it's pretty unusual for kids to "act out" on the playground after the age of 6 or so. Obviously, scuffles and play wrestling are going to occur, but it seems to be a small group of boys in any cohort who are going to do that. Still, boys express interest and affection, and even communicate via bodily contact, so the hair-pulling analogy sort of makes sense (although it's not acceptable at our school). The ratio of girls to boys also makes a difference - there has to be gender parity, otherwise it becomes "boys rules" on the playground.

But I have never heard of another parent telling their boys that it is okay to be abusive towards girls.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:00 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


In fact I was told was told it more than once, obviously.
posted by jokeefe at 10:01 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


The lessons I would teach my daughter is that the world is a harsh place and playgrounds exemplify this reality. Take precautions, be safe, avoid danger when you can, and carry a big stick.

Yet another in the long lines of why I don't have kids.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:02 AM on February 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


KokoRyu: we're not talking about bodily contact meant to express affection; we're talking about hairpulling, scratching, theft, being called a bitch, bra snapping, skirt lifting, etc. We're talking about aggression; and "boys wil be boys" is not an adequate response.
posted by jokeefe at 10:03 AM on February 15, 2012 [33 favorites]


As a teacher, it would never occur to me to say that to a little girl... I had actually forgotten that people said that when I was a kid. I'd be shocked if I heard/saw a teacher at my school do anything but discipline the boy.
posted by Huck500 at 10:04 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, this is a cultural dinosaur that needs to die. Pronto. Good post.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:05 AM on February 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


I also had never thought of it this way. But at the same time, it doesn't diminish the truth of the statement "they're doing it because they like you". Maybe that needs to be followed up with "but that doesn't make it okay."

I think some children might genuinely be more concerned about whether a random kid on the playground hates them for no reason than empowering themselves against future violence. If an adult punches you or pulls your hair, you know that they (should)( know better. But six-year-old boys are terrible human beings.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 10:06 AM on February 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


When I was in middle school the teachers told my parents this about the male student who went on to try to hit me with a chair during class. This was in the mid-1990s. I certainly hope things have changed.

The same male student also got ME demerits -- I refused to sit next to him in class because he kept hitting me when I did that. The teacher gave me demerits, for refusing to sit next to him again, instead of giving them to him, for hitting me. Yes, I'm still angry about that.
posted by pie ninja at 10:06 AM on February 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


Amen. Absolutely correct.
posted by facetious at 10:07 AM on February 15, 2012


Also, before I bow out here (for reasons of emotional memories impeding posting ability), this is something that nearly every one of my female friends was also told, and by teachers as well as parents. It's one of the big lies about being female that gets hammered into your head very early on (just like the big lies about being male, as well). "He shoved me." "It means he likes you." "He tripped me." "It means he likes you." "He followed me around the playground throwing handfuls of dirt at me." "It means he likes you." If it was just couched in terms of bad behaviour-- that yeah, he was doing that because he's an asshole, 9 year old style-- then that's something you can deal with. To be told that this is because he thinks you're special? That he "likes you"? Feels "romantic" towards you? Such horrible bullshit.
posted by jokeefe at 10:08 AM on February 15, 2012 [37 favorites]


This was one of those things I never understood growing up. Being teased by a boy at school meant he liked you?? What if he teased pretty much every girl he came into contact with (which was the case with a couple of guys at our school)? It's neither a logical nor helpful response.

Kids are smart, and can deduce when adults are shovelling bullshit at them a lot of the time.
posted by LN at 10:09 AM on February 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


I also had never thought of it this way. But at the same time, it doesn't diminish the truth of the statement "they're doing it because they like you". Maybe that needs to be followed up with "but that doesn't make it okay."

It does seem like the first question to ask is "are they actually doing this because they like you." If they are (my instincts tell me that this is probably true of certain ages, and not true as you get older, but I don't know), then it would seem like the correct approach is to let girls and boys know that these are inappropriate ways of expressing affection rather than outright denying the basis in affection.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:09 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I internalized that kind of "negative attention means he likes you, be a good girl and take it" attitude when I was a little girl, to the point where when a couple of peers were being flat out obscene and verbally unpleasant, I put up with it until I finally snapped and hit the kid hard enough to break his glasses. At which point, of course, I got a lot of "oh, why didn't you say anything?"
posted by rmd1023 at 10:09 AM on February 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


I also had never thought of it this way. But at the same time, it doesn't diminish the truth of the statement "they're doing it because they like you".

Ugh, for god's sake, it's not true that they like you. It's true that they've noticed you: big difference. The dynamics of the playground are way more complex than that.
posted by jokeefe at 10:11 AM on February 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


Yeah - the violent threats were a bit offputting, although I took them as hyperbole and not serious, but the bigger point was eye-opening to me. I've got an eight-year-old daughter and I guarantee boys physically messing with girls is still happening and I guarantee there are still adults (myself included) whose first reaction is "he must have a crush on you." This is in spite of the fact that I knew perfectly well the boys who teased me as a kid did not actually have crushes on me as I was told. I was a big gross dork who was a jerk-target, not a crush-target. Even if they DID actually have crushes on me, it didn't make the teasing okay.
posted by Dojie at 10:11 AM on February 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


But at the same time, it doesn't diminish the truth of the statement "they're doing it because they like you". Maybe that needs to be followed up with "but that doesn't make it okay."

The problem with this is that it's false. They're not doing it because they like you, they're doing it to test your boundaries and/or to attempt to dominate you.
posted by facetious at 10:12 AM on February 15, 2012 [29 favorites]


Bulgaroktonos: It does seem like the first question to ask is "are they actually doing this because they like you." If they are (my instincts tell me that this is probably true of certain ages, and not true as you get older, but I don't know), then it would seem like the correct approach is to let girls and boys know that these are inappropriate ways of expressing affection rather than outright denying the basis in affection.

So teach the boys that hitting and kicking are not appropriate ways to show affection. Why does doing this mean that we have to teach girls that being abused is what affection feels like? It's not denying reality - it's explicitly stating the reality that that is not what affection looks like.
posted by Dysk at 10:12 AM on February 15, 2012 [11 favorites]


I thought Love Hurts
posted by ReeMonster at 10:13 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


But at the same time, it doesn't diminish the truth of the statement "they're doing it because they like you".

Just because something's true doesn't mean that telling it to a child is a good idea. If the bottom line is "hitting someone is unacceptable", then the reasons why they are hitting you are totally unimportant. What good can come from telling a young girl "When boys hit you, that means they like you"?
posted by 23skidoo at 10:13 AM on February 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


That is all true, but the other side of that argument is often true(ish) as well. I think after the lesson not to accept violence perhaps the boys' possible motivation needs to be mentioned as well. I don't have kids and can't really remember my first-hand experiences from 30 years ago, but boys do act rough with no actual malice. It takes quite some time (years!) for male children to understand how to behave with girls. Holding children to adult standards is foolish. Holding teachers and parents to adult standards, on the other hand is required. The "hitting on girls" thing made my hair stand up.
posted by SkinnerSan at 10:14 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


The sad thing is this sort of shit crops up in parent-child relationships too.
posted by fix at 10:14 AM on February 15, 2012


I also had never thought of it this way. But at the same time, it doesn't diminish the truth of the statement "they're doing it because they like you". Maybe that needs to be followed up with "but that doesn't make it okay."

I think the point is that a boy's proto-romantic interest is not the important thing if he's being physically aggressive/disrespectful. To say that it "doesn't diminish the truth" of that statement undercuts the importance of girls' experiences and subordinates them to the hurtful whims of boys. Boys' feelings, whatever they may be, are not more important than those of girls, and the implication that it's important to discern if they "really" like the girl or not is a red herring. There's a certain normal amount of roughhousing and physical play that children engage in, and non-play, unprovoked aggression against girls that's handwaved away by an insulting appeal to the primacy of male feelings is not just normal play, it's effective indoctrination into second-class status for women.
posted by clockzero at 10:15 AM on February 15, 2012 [75 favorites]


Or maybe boys and girls actually like roughhousing, and teaching them to be afraid of every interaction isn't necessarily a good thing?
posted by roll truck roll at 10:15 AM on February 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


When I threw dirt at girls, it was because I didn't like them. I feel better about that now.
posted by michaelh at 10:15 AM on February 15, 2012


I was a big gross dork who was a jerk-target, not a crush-target.

Precisely! I remember being so angry that my parents refused to see the lived reality of my life, and also I remember feeling very ashamed because I knew that the boys found me unattractive (because I was a fat little butch nerd) and thus I wasn't living up to my parents' (admittedly screwed-up) view of me as someone who could attract abuse because she was attractive.
posted by Frowner at 10:15 AM on February 15, 2012 [21 favorites]


My daughter already corrects the neighbor kids when they talk about boy-toys and girl-toys. She knows that toys are just toys and anyone can play with any toy they like.

I can see her in the future "If you like me, say so, but if you are mean to me again, I'm telling the teacher and I won't be your friend anymore." (And because she is a better person than I am, she'll continue to use words to defend herself instead of fists.)
posted by oddman at 10:16 AM on February 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


I am sure every girl can recall, at least once as a child, coming home and telling their parents, uncle, aunt or grandparent about a boy who had pulled her hair, hit her, teased her, pushed her or committed some other playground crime. I will bet money that most of those, if not all, will tell you that they were told “Oh, that just means he likes you”.

My father said exactly this to me when Jeffrey W. hit me in the face, bloodying my lip a little, while on a field trip. I was eleven years old, and a pretty rough and tumble tomboy who'd engaged Jeffrey in some pretty good smack talk, practically daring him to hit me. I mean, what else was my dad going to do: beat Jeffrey up for me? Get him suspended? Instead we laughed about it, and I let it roll off my back. A far better lesson than if my dad had gone ballistic, in my opinion.

My point is, I didn't grow up thinking that abusive behavior was okay because of this thing my dad said once. Instead my parents demonstrated proper ways of communicating about/dealing with intense or difficult emotions, and I learned from that. If people grow up internalizing the wrong message it's not because of this flippant response--it's because they're repeatedly shown the response in action with no alternatives.
posted by sundaydriver at 10:17 AM on February 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


The problem with this is that it's false. They're not doing it because they like you, they're doing it to test your boundaries and/or to attempt to dominate you.

That's true in some cases, in other cases it is not true; if you're kid is involved, it's probably worth sussing out what the answer is in their case. If you're speaking in generalities, then your answer is always going to be wrong.

So teach the boys that hitting and kicking are not appropriate ways to show affection. Why does doing this mean that we have to teach girls that being abused is what affection feels like? It's not denying reality - it's explicitly stating the reality that that is not what affection looks like.

I explicitly said to teach boys and girls that this is not an appropriate way of expressing affection. I just don't see any point in giving the girls incorrect information about why something is happening. If you've got a good reason to believe that a girl is being harassed by a boy because the boy likes her(as I said above, this is sometimes true, but not always), tell her that, so that she understands what's happening, but also tell her that not all harassment is based on affection and that even when it is, it's not appropriate or acceptable.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:17 AM on February 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Common sense, really. The underlying idea that boys just are supposed to be tougher, more impulsive, louder and more physical than girls and that there's nothing we can do about it is one of the reasons why boys all around the world - seriously, it's a global trend (PDF) - perform so much worse than girls academically.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:18 AM on February 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Wow. Another piece of things-that-upset-me-about-my-childhood (and had not yet consciously acknowledged) puzzle.
posted by marimeko at 10:18 AM on February 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


When Amanda got up from her chair in second grade and I put a rubber cockroach on it for her to see when she came back, it was definitely because I liked her.
posted by emelenjr at 10:19 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


pie ninja, did the adults feed you a line of crap like "he's acting like that because he'd really like to be your friend"?
posted by dr_dank at 10:20 AM on February 15, 2012


Is there any supporting evidence for the myth that boys hit girls because they like them? Because frankly, I see that broken logic waved around all the time, and I have no reason whatsoever to believe that boys hit girls for this reason. When I was six, I hit people because (in that moment) I didn't like them, dunno about you...
posted by Dysk at 10:21 AM on February 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


First time I've even had the inkling that--holy shit--this is so incredibly and obviously wrong.

I mean I don't get exposed to it much nowadays (not much contact with kids) but I wouldn't have thought twice, probably, if I heard someone say it on the street. You internalize these things... or at least I certainly did. You don't think about them.

Okay, the boy walked up to my daughter, grabbed and held her by the arm and forcibly removed her bracelets from her as she struggled and you want to convince her that she should be flattered? Fuck off. I am going to punch you in the face but I hope you realize it is just my way of thanking you for the great advice you gave my daughter.

Thanks for this post, it's got me all unnerved and a little irate. At least it won't ever fly under my radar again, at least.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 10:21 AM on February 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


The sad thing is this sort of shit crops up in parent-child relationships too.

It sure did in mine -- in that Toddler Zizzle went through this terrible hitting phase where it was like living with an abuser. I wish I were kidding, but he hit and hit and hit and hit and hit. And he hit me far more than he hit Dr.E, and he'd do it with such force, that my teeth would knock together sometimes.

He hit me because I was his mom --- because he felt safest with me.

But he was also about a year and a half to two and a half when he went through most of this phase.

At the age of 3, he gets in serious trouble for hitting whereas at a younger age, the only course of action is to redirect, redirect, redirect. Some two year olds understand time outs. Toddler Zizzle did not.

If he's doing this at the age of six to anyone, you better believe we'll be discussing appropriate consequences.
posted by zizzle at 10:21 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you've got a good reason to believe that a girl is being harassed by a boy because the boy likes her(as I said above, this is sometimes true, but not always), tell her that, so that she understands what's happening, but also tell her that not all harassment is based on affection and that even when it is, it's not appropriate or acceptable.

Sorry, no, this is false - categorically. The following statement is comical: "not all harassment is based on affection." Do I even have to use the "R" word?
posted by facetious at 10:21 AM on February 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


The thing is, I feel like we ought to trust girls on this stuff. I was able at a young age to identify friendly-thought-aggressive teasing (which was not what was directed at me) when I saw it. In general, the girls I knew were not angry about friendly-but-aggressive teasing; they were angry about bullying. This idea that girls themselves need to have the sekrit motives of the boys revealed to them because their undeveloped female brains can't work it out...well, my parents weren't there when all this went down, they didn't know the boys in question and they (like teachers) had no access to the real, secret world of kid society. Why should their views trump mine, unless the little boy walked up to them and told them he had a crush?
posted by Frowner at 10:22 AM on February 15, 2012 [32 favorites]


Or maybe boys and girls actually like roughhousing, and teaching them to be afraid of every interaction isn't necessarily a good thing?

You've got the whole thing backward -- we should be teaching girls to not be afraid of interactions that make them unhappy. Right now, we do the opposite when we tell them that their perception of having been wronged is invalid because what boys want and feel takes precedence over their personal boundaries. Teaching girls that when boys hurt them and make them uncomfortable, they're in fact expressing affection is what makes them afraid of interactions because it shows them that they're not going to be protected or believed when men hurt them.

Raising girls who won't be afraid of men means holding males of all ages responsible for their hurtful conduct rather than making doubly-hurtful excuses for them.
posted by clockzero at 10:23 AM on February 15, 2012 [44 favorites]


phunniemee: " I am a terrible person."

Then I must be too. But I also agree with Zozo that it's more of a vent than an actual persuasive argument with language you would actually use with one's daughter (I kinda hope) -- the spirit is right, if not all the exact details. It's definitely the type of GRAR-situation where I'm more than willing to cut parents a little slack for not necessarily speaking as rationally as we might like.

On a similar 'I know it's not the exact right solution, but..." note, the only one of my parents' children who ever ended up being in an altercation where my parents were called to the elementary school was not me or my younger brother but our younger sister. And though none of us were troublemakers (pre-puberty at least), my sister was pretty much a perfect trouble-free dream student. But sometime around 10 or 11, a boy who seemed to "like her" as described in the article was teasing her as they lined up to leave recess and then he pulled her hair and back of her shirt trying to get her to turn around. And my sister being my sister did turn around. And bloodied his nose.

My parents weren't happy, but she didn't get in trouble at home either. And though I do believe in my head that violence shouldn't be the answer, I was proud of her then and, if I'm being honest, proud of her now.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:23 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, also: The bullying? It wasn't because the bully's were jealous of you. Sorry.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:23 AM on February 15, 2012 [35 favorites]


bullies
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:23 AM on February 15, 2012


this is something that nearly every one of my female friends was also told, and by teachers as well as parents

Yeah, not only was I told by numerous elementary school teachers (but luckily never by my parents) that unwanted physical attention from boys was to be expected, I was also told very sternly that any retaliation from me would be "unladylike" and somehow far more worthy of punishment.
posted by elizardbits at 10:24 AM on February 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


Resolved, as the father of a nearly four-year-old girl: I won't ever invalidate her by responding like that.

See, the internet is a good thing.
posted by sleeping bear at 10:24 AM on February 15, 2012 [26 favorites]


My point is, I didn't grow up thinking that abusive behavior was okay because of this thing my dad said once.

Great. Because you didn't have this issue, no one else in the world does, right? Especially not those silly girls who had the temerity to consistently attract negative attention from boys. I bet those girls are just humble-bragging about how all the little shits bullying her are so in love with her.

Instead my parents demonstrated proper ways of communicating about/dealing with intense or difficult emotions, and I learned from that.

Nope, don't buy it. There's nothing difficult or intense about telling your daughter to stand up for herself, unless every other adult around your daughter insists that that wouldn't be nice, and why would you want to reject a poor boy who just doesn't know how to show you how deep his affections for you really run?
posted by Phire at 10:25 AM on February 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


Hey, it works for Chris Brown.
posted by evilmidnightbomberwhatbombsatmidnight at 10:25 AM on February 15, 2012


Hey, works for Tiger mom.
posted by mulligan at 10:27 AM on February 15, 2012


I also had never thought of it this way. But at the same time, it doesn't diminish the truth of the statement "they're doing it because they like you". Maybe that needs to be followed up with "but that doesn't make it okay."


First of all, it's NOT always true. Adults always think that's why because they think it's sooo cute, but as a little girl, you can tell when someone is throwing dirt at you because they really are just a dirt throwing brat who hates you.

Secondly, what exactly would be the *point* of saying this to a little girl? To make her feel better about being treated badly? To make her more okay with it, more patient? To make her more understanding towards the boy who's treating her badly?

It makes the little boys emotions and problems controlling them into HER problem to deal with.

Third, "he likes you" isn't really the truth here because this isn't "liking." This is, "he has a strange fucked up mix of emotions towards you involving attraction, hate, desire to control, sense of entitlement to your attention, lack of respect, etc."
posted by cairdeas at 10:27 AM on February 15, 2012 [52 favorites]


But at the same time, it doesn't diminish the truth of the statement "they're doing it because they like you". Maybe that needs to be followed up with "but that doesn't make it okay."

No. Forget the reassuring "they're doing it because they like you."

Because if it IS true that the boy who's doing it really does like her, then that's a boy who really needs a lesson in "you don't hit people you like." And giving a girl permission to teach that point to him will benefit not just her, but him as well.

Otherwise, you get things like the girls who tweeted during the Grammys that "I don't care, Chris Brown can hit me ANYTIME".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:29 AM on February 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


I distinctly remember being chased around the playground by the girls. If they caught you, they would kiss you on the cheek and give you cooties.

There seemed to be a general consensus that cooties was not something good to have.

I did not see the downside of cooties, as the condition had few side effects and could be easily cured with the application of a knuckle to the upper arm, known as a "cootie shot", so I frequently let myself get caught and kissed.

And that is why they called me Cootie King.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:29 AM on February 15, 2012 [23 favorites]


If you've got a good reason to believe that a girl is being harassed by a boy because the boy likes her(as I said above, this is sometimes true, but not always), tell her that, so that she understands what's happening

Is understanding what's happening going to make the situation any better? Why is understanding that a boy likes her important for her to know? It's not.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:30 AM on February 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


I didn't think adults actually believed this. I figured adults just said it to make little kids feel better.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:30 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, also: The bullying? It wasn't because the bullies were jealous of you. Sorry.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson


It was so offensive and sad to me when my mom would pull that line. Can you see me mom? See that I'm overweight and ugly and poor and have no friends? Who the hell would be jealous of that? I knew that I was bullied because I was weak and therefore an easy target - my parents ignoring or refusing to see that and instead giving me some line that was patently false and completely unhelpful was heartbreaking.
posted by arcticwoman at 10:31 AM on February 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


Is understanding what's happening going to make the situation any better? Why is understanding that a boy likes her important for her to know? It's not.

It's important because it's always helpful to understand why people around you are doing what they're doing. If the boy is harassing her because he's acting out for attention or because he's a hateful little fuck, I would also tell her that. More information (so long as it's accurate) is always useful. That should really be a controversial point, and unless you also teach her that any kind of affection, even dangerous misplaced affection, is good, then you're not doing her harm.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:34 AM on February 15, 2012


I teach middle school and it is very often that case that boys pick on girls because they like them. Adults do this too, it's a pretty common pick-up-artist technique.

It's pretty jerkish behavior. The reason the boys do it is almost always for attention. Most of the boys I teach haven't had a lot of great role models for respectful romantic interaction, and unfortunately as a woman I am not really in a position to model it, although I can tell them what to do and not do.

I am in a position to help the girls deal with it. I tell the girls that they have several options - they can ignore it (this usually works because since the boy is looking for attention, getting ignored makes them get bored), they can tell the boy to stop, or they can tell me and I will deal with it. I leave it up to them which is the best option in any given situation.
posted by mai at 10:37 AM on February 15, 2012 [10 favorites]


What articwoman said.
posted by Melismata at 10:39 AM on February 15, 2012


pie ninja, did the adults feed you a line of crap like "he's acting like that because he'd really like to be your friend"?

I don't remember the teachers telling me anything about it directly. I do remember my parents telling me the teachers told them they thought it was because the male student had a crush on me. (Mind you, this was in sixth through eighth grade. Not 6-8 years old -- 10-12.)

I think clockzero has it. I didn't care about why he was hitting me. I cared about the fact that the teachers weren't preventing him from hitting me, and in at least one instance chose to punish me for trying to protect myself by sitting in a different chair.
posted by pie ninja at 10:39 AM on February 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I mostly agree with the article's premise, but I think suggesting that a 6-year-old boy is "a little asshole" for pushing a girl is a bit extreme. Little kids do things that are inappropriate. As adults, it is our job to teach them what is and is not appropriate. But a little boy pushing another kid doesn't make him a little asshole created by society. If he continues to do it as he gets older then, yes, he is an asshole. But, really, I think calling wee children assholes is a bit out of line.

Also: the whole "he hit you because he likes you" thing gets fed to boys, too. I was told by my parents that the girls who annoyed me as a kid were only doing it because they liked me. This trope is likely more dangerous when fed to girls, but it is fed to children of either sex.
posted by asnider at 10:40 AM on February 15, 2012 [10 favorites]


Many boys do do things like this to girls because they like them. It's simply true. I did, myself, in elementary school, and I hardly think I'm unique. I never hit anybody, but I engaged in the minor roughhousing that insecure boys engage in (tripping, rubber band flicking, like that), and I'm quite sure it was unwelcome.

It's the same thing as the class clown urge. You want to express emotions you're feeling, but you're pathetically incapable of doing that within the socially allowed means of expression, so you do something nutty and hope it gets you the attention you want.

I think that telling a girl who's receiving this kind of treatment that it might (or might not) be because the boy has a crush on her is a good thing. As Bulgaroktonos says above, more information is always useful. When a boy does stuff like this because he likes a girl, it's because he's feeling very small and scared and powerless. Knowing that fact can help the girl feel empowered, I think -- this boy is being a horrible snot because I've got power over him.

But, yeah, regardless, no one should accept the behavior. It's atrocious.
posted by gurple at 10:40 AM on February 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


we're not talking about bodily contact meant to express affection; we're talking about hairpulling, scratching, theft, being called a bitch, bra snapping, skirt lifting, etc. We're talking about aggression; and "boys wil be boys" is not an adequate response.

Is this sort of behaviour still acceptable and common?
posted by KokuRyu at 10:41 AM on February 15, 2012


Common sense, really

Now that I really think about it, I have vague memories of hearing this as a kid and honestly I'm not sure that I wouldn't have pulled the same crap line that's being criticized here. Huh.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:41 AM on February 15, 2012


More information (so long as it's accurate) is always useful.

Like, how can she put that information to use? How can it help her? I'm not being rhetorical, fill in the blank:

When you tell a little girl "Sometimes when boys hit you, they like you" that helps the girl because after knowing that she can ____________ whereas before she knew that she couldn't.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:41 AM on February 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


I will teach my daughter to accept nothing less than respect.

Fuck yes. More of this kind of thing, please.
posted by odinsdream at 10:41 AM on February 15, 2012 [15 favorites]


It's important because it's always helpful to understand why people around you are doing what they're doing.

I think the author of the linked article is suggesting that 1) being mean and aggressive *does not* and *can not* constitute an expression of love or affection or "like", and that 2) teaching girls that it *can* mean those things is actually very harmful because it sets the stage for them to be mistreated by and afraid of men in general, and perhaps even abused by evil men and interpret abuse as evidence of love, which it is not.

Telling people that abuse or harassment indicates the presence of love is always a lie. Every time. It is never true.

Fucked-up people might be abusive toward or harass those they love, but the abuse isn't an expression of love itself, it's a sociopathic emotional maladaptation.
posted by clockzero at 10:42 AM on February 15, 2012 [29 favorites]


More information (so long as it's accurate) is always useful.

This isn't even true for adults who have (in theory) much more mature brains then little kids.
posted by kmz at 10:43 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Many boys do do things like this to girls because they like them. It's simply true.

Right, but using this knowledge as an excuse to dismiss what happened, and how the recipient of this attention feels, is wrong. And yet, as the author points out, it's an incredibly common reaction from adults -- perhaps the default.
posted by hermitosis at 10:44 AM on February 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Right, but using this knowledge as an excuse to dismiss what happened, and how the recipient of this attention feels, is wrong.

No one in this thread, though, is suggesting that the knowledge should be used to dismiss what happened.
posted by gurple at 10:45 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


No one in this thread, though, is suggesting that the knowledge should be used to dismiss what happened.

No, they're just expecting kids to process conflicting emotions and subtle situations that a lot of adults can't even do.
posted by kmz at 10:49 AM on February 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


I want my daughter to know that the boy called her ugly or pushed her or pulled her hair didn’t do it because he admires her, it is because he is a little asshole and assholes are an occurrence of society that will have to be dealt with for the rest of her life.
Make a seven year old boy your stand-in for the patriarchy feels a little, well, abusive. Let's keep our rage directed at social problems and not slander the tiny walking ids. They can barely even use a bathroom.
posted by deathpanels at 10:49 AM on February 15, 2012 [18 favorites]


Like, how can she put that information to use? How can it help her? I'm not being rhetorical, fill in the blank:

When you tell a little girl "Sometimes when boys hit you, they like you" that helps the girl because after knowing that she can ____________ whereas before she knew that she couldn't.


If someone is hitting you because they like you, then at least one reason for that behavior is to get your attention, to make you notice them. Denying them your attention is thus a more useful approach than if they're doing it because they think you're weak or vulnerable. If a boy hits you because he likes you, and you hit him back, that might count as a successful interaction for him; it helps to know that.

Telling people that abuse or harassment indicates the presence of love is always a lie. Every time. It is never true.

I think this is only true if you believe "love" to be some sort of completely positive thing, but it's not. Love is really just a strong emotional attachment to something. The domestic abuser who hits a woman because she's going to leave him might well(not always, obviously) be doing it because of that strong emotional attachment. In that sense, it flows directly from his "love."

The lie isn't that abuse comes from love, the lie is that love is all that's important.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:49 AM on February 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


They're not doing it because they like you, they're doing it to test your boundaries and/or to attempt to dominate you.

They may like you, or they may not. It doesn't matter. I thought about this, and I can honestly say it never crossed my mind to say "it means he likes you." I don't care if he likes her. He doesn't have a good reason to act that way, and he'd better not. What I did say is to tell the teacher, and if the teacher doesn't do anything, to tell me.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:52 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


When a boy does stuff like this because he likes a girl, it's because he's feeling very small and scared and powerless. Knowing that fact can help the girl feel empowered, I think -- this boy is being a horrible snot because I've got power over him.

Oh wow. No, no, no.

If the girl had any actual power over the boy in this scenario, she'd be able to get what she wanted -- stop his aggressive/negative/unpleasant/unwanted/violent behavior towards her. She can't.

There's nothing "empowering" about being on the receiving end of someone's negative behavior and being able to do NOTHING about it, yet be told it was caused by you.

This is what victim blaming is. This is in the same family as "women just have such power over men with their sexiness when they wear sexy clothes that men just can't help themselves and what they do."
posted by cairdeas at 10:52 AM on February 15, 2012 [81 favorites]


You've got the whole thing backward -- we should be teaching girls to not be afraid of interactions that make them unhappy.

I'm saying that roughhousing is not a gendered thing. Teaching girls that it's not girly to get into fights with boys and teaching girls that boys only mess with them because they have crushes on them are two sides of the same coin. They're both reinforcing yucky gender roles. I'd rather teach kids to have fun without seeing each other as alien creatures.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:53 AM on February 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


No one in this thread, though, is suggesting that the knowledge should be used to dismiss what happened.

No, they're just expecting kids to process conflicting emotions and subtle situations that a lot of adults can't even do.


No, they're just reliving their own childhoods and feeling crappy about it.
posted by Melismata at 10:53 AM on February 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


I think a distinction should be made between:
a) adults laughing off children's problems prevents children from solving their problems.
b) adults reframing children's problems as intrinsically good things leads to children later seeing adult versions of those problems as normal.
c) when a boy teases a girl, he's practicing dominating and abusing women.

A isn't true. B is probably true. C isn't true.
posted by michaelh at 10:53 AM on February 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Knowing that fact can help the girl feel empowered, I think -- this boy is being a horrible snot because I've got power over him.

It can also train her to seek out interactions like these as a way of feeling powerful and attractive. I'm sure that's healthy!
posted by hermitosis at 10:54 AM on February 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ha. I understand the sentiment, and it's a valid point. However, the author does need to deal with her latent anger issues. Pardon me ma'am if I don't take parenting advice from a blogger with the category "Parenting and random shit".

Further, I would caution anyone to tell their child to fight aggression with aggression. On the off chance the little girl punches a little boy back, and he happens to be a volcano of self-loathing that leaves her with a permanent scar in the subsequent altercation. To say nothing of the lesson in profanity this little girl may be getting, which apparently is also a form of self-degradation.

So whilst her daughter may not grow up thinking violence is a sign of affection, this may await Perhaps it would be best to teach the daughter proper boundaries and use of structural disciplinary mechanisms. And how to field strip an AK-47.

I'm not advocating for the former "He just likes you blah blah" or that it's harmless, but that there is probably a solution that sits between being a victim of violence and being a perpetrator.
posted by nickrussell at 10:58 AM on February 15, 2012


There's nothing "empowering" about being on the receiving end of someone's negative behavior and being able to do NOTHING about it, yet be told it was caused by you.

You're going a long way with "caused by", there. I wasn't going that way, the way that you're going. The behavior is caused by the boy, not the girl. As you note, the way that you, and not I, are going with this ("it was caused by you") is victim blaming.


Goodness, I can't wait until my daughter is old enough to deal with these issues. I'm sure that I'm going to help her through them in the absolutely correct and best and healthiest way, and that therefore she'll end up emotionally stronger and healthier than all y'all's kids.
posted by gurple at 10:58 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm saying that roughhousing is not a gendered thing. Teaching girls that it's not girly to get into fights with boys and teaching girls that boys only mess with them because they have crushes on them are two sides of the same coin. They're both reinforcing yucky gender roles.

Let's not forget the fact that boys, often, ARE stronger than girls, as I found out as a kid. (I was raised in ground-zero feminist territory in the 70s, and the boys were like "so boys are girls are equal? Ha, I'll show you how they're not!")
posted by Melismata at 10:59 AM on February 15, 2012


Make a seven year old boy your stand-in for the patriarchy feels a little, well, abusive.

It's not that, not that the 7 yr old boy is a full-grown card-carrying patriarchy enforcer. It's just -- a guy who, at 18, treats women in a certain way? That didn't start at 18, that's all. We all have negative traits we were born with and negative traits we learned. A 7 year old can have some that he's being taught, and he can have some he's born with that he never is taught to control, as we all can.
posted by cairdeas at 11:00 AM on February 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Telling people that abuse or harassment indicates the presence of love is always a lie. Every time. It is never true.

I think this is only true if you believe "love" to be some sort of completely positive thing, but it's not. Love is really just a strong emotional attachment to something. The domestic abuser who hits a woman because she's going to leave him might well(not always, obviously) be doing it because of that strong emotional attachment. In that sense, it flows directly from his "love."

The lie isn't that abuse comes from love, the lie is that love is all that's important.


In addition to disagreeing about this issue, I think you and I have different ideas about emotions and psychology, so perhaps there's not much space for common ground.

I'm saying that roughhousing is not a gendered thing. Teaching girls that it's not girly to get into fights with boys and teaching girls that boys only mess with them because they have crushes on them are two sides of the same coin. They're both reinforcing yucky gender roles. I'd rather teach kids to have fun without seeing each other as alien creatures.

But roughhousing clearly *is* a gendered thing, whether we like it or not. I don't think anyone here or in the linked article is saying anything about cautioning girls not to get into fights, and moreover, those two sides of the same coin you mentioned both involve limiting and subordinating girls, so I think they aren't even really two different sides of anything. They're both part of the repressive socialization that we put girls through.
posted by clockzero at 11:00 AM on February 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


When a boy does stuff like this because he likes a girl, it's because he's feeling very small and scared and powerless. Knowing that fact can help the girl feel empowered, I think -- this boy is being a horrible snot because I've got power over him.
Seriously, this author is projecting her politics onto a relatively innocuous interaction between two helpless children. If this were an analysis of an event that occurred between two teenagers, then sure, we can say something about the motivations and behavioral problems that may have caused this tragic hair-pulling incident. As it stands, the critique ought to be focused on the adults and their response.
posted by deathpanels at 11:01 AM on February 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Further, I would caution anyone to tell their child to fight aggression with aggression. On the off chance the little girl punches a little boy back, and he happens to be a volcano of self-loathing that leaves her with a permanent scar in the subsequent altercation.

How is him being "a volcano of self-loathing" going to leave HER with a "permanent scar" if she finally punches him back after he's been punching HER forever? Why is that HER problem?

To say nothing of the lesson in profanity this little girl may be getting, which apparently is also a form of self-degradation.

Shit, I think the atittude that a little fucking profanity is "a form of self-degredation" is some bullshit.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:01 AM on February 15, 2012 [10 favorites]


I was all ready to hate on this because my anecdata was ostensibly different, but upon reflection I realize that I was wrong, and have been lying to myself about it since I can remember. I'm male and I can say with some certainty that as a young boy I never teased girls or boys in this manner, though i certainly understood and accepted the dynamic as it's been described here. So then I was ready to disagree based on things I have done as an adult…you know, that playful “ribbing” that coworkers and friends sometimes engage in, when I remembered an incident I had been involved in.

We got a new coworker, moved in from another state. She’s vegan, super eco-conscious, bit of a hippie. Very exuberant person, passionate and sometimes overbearing. My boss and I ( not her boss) started teasing her about how much we loved bacon. We talked about bacon endlessly (the internet, unsurprisingly, is very helpful when it comes to bacon) This was in some small way horrifying to her; she subscribes to a personal spirituality that incorporates aspects of Hinduism, Shamanism, and overall respect for all living creatures. We weren’t making fun of her religion per se, but we were certainly being insensitive and making light of her admittedly overbearing opinions about meat consumption. We were joking about how much we enjoyed the slaughter of pigs so that we could eat bacon, to someone who finds the very thought utterly disturbing and wrong.

Then she complained about it. She told another colleague that she felt we were intentionally alienating her, teasing her to make her feel bad. This colleague repeated the old mantra: “Cynthia, they’re teasing you because they like you.” She actually accepted that idea and so did I at the time, feeling vindicated in my belief that it truly was all in good fun.

But you know what? That is a lie, and I know it.

The reality is that even though I genuinely do like her as a person, I’ve always thought her opinions and her veganism were ridiculous. I never respected them (which really means I never fully respected her), secretly harboring an opinion of her cognitive abilities that is less than kind. I wasn’t teasing her because I liked her. I was teasing her because I thought it was funny, because I thought her opinions and beliefs had no value beyond a cheap laugh.

Maybe there is such a thing as playful teasing, but this wasn’t it. Playful teasing requires consent, and mutual respect, neither of which I had given her at the time. I’m ashamed of my actions, and I’m going to apologize to her. Thank you for posting this article, it’s really opened my eyes.
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:03 AM on February 15, 2012 [96 favorites]


How is him being "a volcano of self-loathing" going to leave HER with a "permanent scar" if she finally punches him back after he's been punching HER forever? Why is that HER problem?

I assumed the reference was to how retaliation could provoke the person doing the harassment into doing something more dangerous.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:10 AM on February 15, 2012


Anybody here ever read Anne of Green Gables? Anne's introduction to the eventual love of her life Gilbert comes when he pulls her pigtails in class and calls her "carrots", and she retaliates by breaking a slate over his head.

This story is very well known, at least in Canada.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:11 AM on February 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


Playful teasing requires consent

With your permission, I'd like to make a couple of amusing remarks about your post. Just sign below.


Name: Doleful Creature

Signature: _______________________________

Date: February 15, 2012
posted by michaelh at 11:13 AM on February 15, 2012


If someone is hitting you because they like you, then at least one reason for that behavior is to get your attention, to make you notice them. Denying them your attention is thus a more useful approach than if they're doing it because they think you're weak or vulnerable. If a boy hits you because he likes you, and you hit him back, that might count as a successful interaction for him; it helps to know that.

Sorry, but you've changed the information. "Sometimes boys hit the girls they like" is not the same piece of information as "Don't give attention to people who are trying to get a rise out of you". If that's the advice you want to give to girls, then just give that information*. But if you have to tack that advice onto the end of "sometimes boys hit the girls they like", then just drop the "sometimes boys hit the girls they like", because SBHtGTL doesn't intuitively mean "If you want this to stop, don't engage him".




*But I think that's crappy advice too, because it puts the onus of not being hit on the girl, who has to figure out the bully's motivation and then come up with a strategy that accurately addresses his motivations.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:13 AM on February 15, 2012


This story is very well known, at least in Canada.

(And stangely enough, in Japan. Almost all of my students would ask me about PEI and "Anne".)
posted by Hoopo at 11:14 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]



The reality is that even though I genuinely do like her as a person, I’ve always thought her opinions and her veganism were ridiculous. I never respected them (which really means I never fully respected her), secretly harboring an opinion of her cognitive abilities that is less than kind. I wasn’t teasing her because I liked her. I was teasing her because I thought it was funny, because I thought her opinions and beliefs had no value beyond a cheap laugh.


This, about ten thousand times. This is one of the many, many reasons I don't tell men - and this is a primarily male dominance issue in my experience - that I am a vegan. It always brings out the "oink oink I love bacon" routine, or the "let's talk about slaughterhouses" routine, and it never lets up. I've always viewed it as a demonstration of contempt and a demonstration that I, a woman, am not supposed to have firm boundaries about food that get in the way of what dudes want to do. Also, I think the guys in question want to demonstrate that they are not "effeminate" by distancing themselves from "hippie" vegan values. It is never, ever fun for me.

To tell the absolute truth - speaking of having a low estimate of someone's intelligence - I tend to assume that the men who do this are so stupid that they lack the ability to perform any kind of introspection, and so entitled that they don't even see me as anything approaching an equal. Your thoughtful comment and your willingness to post it here give me a nudge toward revising that opinion.
posted by Frowner at 11:15 AM on February 15, 2012 [41 favorites]


Anne breaks a slate in Gilbert's ass (1:03).
posted by stinkycheese at 11:16 AM on February 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


A colleague of mine has in the past insisted that the demons in Doom are actually just trying to be friendly but don't know how. They're just confused and think that trying to bite you to death is an acceptable way to display affection.
posted by baf at 11:20 AM on February 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


In his ass? Does that link need a pegging nsfw tag?
posted by elizardbits at 11:21 AM on February 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


Fucked-up people might be abusive toward or harass those they love, but the abuse isn't an expression of love itself, it's a sociopathic emotional maladaptation.

Here's my take. If we're talking about adults, young adults, or even teens, sure. If we're talking about primary school children under the age of 10, I think that's missing the point. Young children do socially inappropriate things as they experiment with the world around them. It is the responsibility of adults to steer them away from that behavior, explain why it is inappropriate, and give them the tools to move on to appropriate behavior. So making excuses for the inappropriate behavior - to the ones behaving inappropriately and to the victims of that behavior - is both wrong and counterproductive. Part of giving them the tools is to help them understand where the impulses are coming from. That may or may not include identifying misplaced ideas of demonstrating affection, but in every case, should be treated with the individual attention that is so hard to provide in today's assembly line culture.

Bottom line: "sociopathic emotional maladaptation" is one possible extreme result of a fairly common, and problematic, dynamic. It isn't the inevitable end. But it's much more likely if the problematic behavior isn't identified as such and rechanneled at an early age.

tl;dr - Every little boy who pulls a girl's hair or pushes a girl on the playground isn't a future abuser, and every little girl who has her hair pulled or gets pushed on the playground isn't a future abuse victim. However, every adult who laughs the behavior off and makes excuses for it makes that outcome just a bit more likely.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:21 AM on February 15, 2012 [28 favorites]


*But I think that's crappy advice too, because it puts the onus of not being hit on the girl, who has to figure out the bully's motivation and then come up with a strategy that accurately addresses his motivations.

Well obviously if I'm giving advice to the bully, I'm going to tell him to cut it out, but if I'm giving advice to the bullied, then the only thing you can do is try to figure out what's going to keep yourself from getting bullied. This is true of all bullying, no matter what the gender/sexual dynamics.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:24 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Every little boy who pulls a girl's hair or pushes a girl on the playground isn't a future abuser, and every little girl who has her hair pulled or gets pushed on the playground isn't a future abuse victim. However, every adult who laughs the behavior off and makes excuses for it makes that outcome just a bit more likely.

I want you all to imagine me jumping up and down and tapping my nose and pointing at Florence Henderson because absolutely yes this is right.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:25 AM on February 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I recently caught the Kid Politics rerun of This American Life. The third act takes place at a democratic school in Brooklyn.

It was revelatory. Yeah, democratic schools are kind of silly, with the no classes and no authority. But the kids all seemed to be getting indoctrinated in things I consider important, like how it's okay to stand up for yourself, and demand decent treatment. (In life, I almost feel like whether or not the person then treats you decently is secondary; the moment of transformation is when you realize "I don't deserve to be treated like this!")

There's a young woman in that episode who calls an all-school meeting on a couple of younger boys because they called her whore. It turns out that the boys had only a dim sense of what that word meant, but everyone takes her complaint seriously. Nobody is like "Wellllll that's just how boys are!" or whatever the fuck. And they all work through it and talk it out.

It made me feel so uplifted and hopeful. Because I imagine that young woman going out into the world and going to college and getting jobs, and I feel like she has been inoculated against that horrible bullshit girls get infected with, where we are taught in a million ways that we are responsible for the emotional states of other people.

(Your blog post made someone feel uncomfortable=you are too goddamn angry, calm down.... for instance.)

That said, I think this stuff also applies to little boys. Now that my toddler is old enough to go to playgrounds, I watch things happen on the mean streets of the play structure that make my heart ache. Kids need help learning how to be gentle and still stand up for themselves, I think. And a lot of families either don't value those things or don't know how to teach them.

Basically I think that interacting in ways that aren't based on dominance-over with other humans is pretty hard, and since most of us are raised in ways that emphasize power dynamics, it's hard to turn away from that and find other ways to relate to each other.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 11:26 AM on February 15, 2012 [21 favorites]


> I didn't think adults actually believed this. I figured adults just said it to make little kids feel better.
> posted by Ad hominem at 1:30 PM on February 15 [+] [!]

With an added flavor of "say something to placate the kid so I don't have to deal with this right now by confronting either the teacher or the little boy's parents, which would be stressful."


> A colleague of mine has in the past insisted that the demons in Doom are actually just trying to be friendly but don't know how.

You know, I got that same vibe. Blowing them to atoms with my BFG was just my way of playing coy and hard to get.
posted by jfuller at 11:27 AM on February 15, 2012


If someone is hitting you because they like you, then at least one reason for that behavior is to get your attention, to make you notice them. Denying them your attention is thus a more useful approach than if they're doing it because they think you're weak or vulnerable. If a boy hits you because he likes you, and you hit him back, that might count as a successful interaction for him; it helps to know that.

What message from this do you think she'll carry forward into her dating years? Is this really a message you want her to have internalized by the time she's 16?

And what about the boy? By time he's 16, will he also continue to think that the way you show affection is by hitting?

Six- and seven-year-olds do socially inappropriate things because they don't know any better. It's a reason to teach them what is and isn't okay, not an opportunity to brush it off with "boys will be boys" rhetoric. How confusing it must be to be taught on the one hand that if anyone (adult) touches you where you don't want them to, to come tell your parents right away, but if a peer does the same, it means they like you (and therefore you should be flattered/be kind/just ignore it).
posted by rtha at 11:27 AM on February 15, 2012 [10 favorites]


I don't think it's even accurate to say "he likes you." That implies a clarity of thought that isn't there for kids at that age, and certainly not for people engaged in random violence like that.

It's not "I like you, therefore I'll hit you to get your attention." It's more like "I have these feelings that I can't really put into words, that I'm pretty sure I should be ashamed about, that I'd have no idea how to act on even if I could acknowledge them, which makes me more ashamed and...oh hell, I need to hit this girl and maybe I won't feel so ashamed."
posted by PlusDistance at 11:28 AM on February 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Ok, seriously, I remember boys in Grade 5 and 6 daring each other to run up to The Girl With Boobs in the schoolyard and grab her breasts. And they would actually do this, and it seemed to me as an observer that it wasn't like a one time only freak event, this went on all the time.

My own daughter is in Grade 5 now and I tell her these stories and she's just slack jawed, she can't believe that was ever put up with by adults, let alone in her own father's memory. So that makes me feel good. Obviously at least in my neck of the woods things are changing for the better. She says there is no bullying at her school either - again, my youth was *very* different - and I know the school takes the subject very seriously and starts teaching kids anti-bullying at an early age.

Progress!
posted by stinkycheese at 11:30 AM on February 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've always viewed it as a demonstration of contempt and a demonstration that I, a woman, am not supposed to have firm boundaries about food that get in the way of what dudes want to do

I'm not sure it has much to do with your gender to be honest. I hear guys do this to vegan guys too. Some people see a diet like that, which is often believed to be rooted in ethical considerations for animals, and take it as a statement on how their own diet, i.e. their love of meat is immoral. And they're lashing out at some sort of imagined criticism.
posted by Hoopo at 11:31 AM on February 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


What message from this do you think she'll carry forward into her dating years? Is this really a message you want her to have internalized by the time she's 16?

And what about the boy? By time he's 16, will he also continue to think that the way you show affection is by hitting?

Six- and seven-year-olds do socially inappropriate things because they don't know any better. It's a reason to teach them what is and isn't okay, not an opportunity to brush it off with "boys will be boys" rhetoric. How confusing it must be to be taught on the one hand that if anyone (adult) touches you where you don't want them to, to come tell your parents right away, but if a peer does the same, it means they like you (and therefore you should be flattered/be kind/just ignore it).


Seriously, read what I've been saying. My only argument was that (where it's true) you shouldn't drop the "it's because he likes you" part out, but that you should also deal with it seriously, and teach everyone involved about what are inappropriate ways of expressing affection/behaving generally, and I never said that anyone should "be flattered/be kind/just ignore it."

And to be perfectly honest, I think teaching little girls that sometimes people who like (or love) them are going to hit them is a great message because it's true. You just also have to teach them that the fact that someone loves them does not excuse the hitting.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:35 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Many boys do do things like this to girls because they like them. It's simply true.
It is true, yes, but it doesn't have to be. Rather, even if it has to be true for a certain subset of a certain gender at a certain age, it doesn't have to be true forever. Yet we see adult couples engaging in the exact same dynamic, sniping and teasing and picking at each other, in the name of affection. I'm not talking about seriously abusive relationships, nor even one-sided bullying. I'm sure we all know the couple that seems to be always fighting, always criticizing, yet who seem from every other exterior criterion to be perfectly happy, spending time together and being generally supportive. Makes me wonder how happy they'd be if they were actually nice to one another.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:38 AM on February 15, 2012


this days it is very difficult to teach a child and make him/her understand. when there are parents that do not educate their children
posted by rafaelmontilla at 11:40 AM on February 15, 2012


I mean, take the case of the giant metal chicken. Lots of people think that sort of thing is fun, right? That it shows a certain kind of love and affection and caring and understanding, right?
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:43 AM on February 15, 2012


then the only thing you can do is try to figure out what's going to keep yourself from getting bullied

That's the only thing you can do IF no one is stopping the bullying. How about we just stop the bullying, or at least take it seriously? Telling people who are bullied "Sorry, but there's nothing that the people who are in charge can do to make you feel better" is crappy.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:47 AM on February 15, 2012


That's the only thing you can do IF no one is stopping the bullying. How about we just stop the bullying, or at least take it seriously? Telling people who are bullied "Sorry, but there's nothing that the people who are in charge can do to make you feel better" is crappy.

Once again, I was only covering what I would tell a (hypothetical) daughter of mine who was being bullied to do. What I would tell her school, the bully's parents, etc. to do is a different matter. But, assuming that nothing is going to be done, I would try to teach her coping mechanism to avoid being hurt as much as possible. That's not crappy.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:49 AM on February 15, 2012


Kids are stupid.

Bullies are evil.

All kids != all bullies.

Smart people know when a kid ≘ bully and when he/she isn't.

The kid that pulls your pigtails is not the antichrist. He could just be stupid and need either a heaping dose of "ignore the attention-seeker" or "knock it off, chump."

You know what doesn't work? Venting on the Internet.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:56 AM on February 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


But, assuming that nothing is going to be done, I would try to teach her coping mechanism to avoid being hurt as much as possible. That's not crappy.

We understand that. The objection is not to your desire to teach a hypothetical child a coping mechanism. The objection is to the notion that telling a hypothetical child "oh, they just like you" IS such a coping mechanism
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:00 PM on February 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Here's the thing, I think it's important for adults to try really hard to remember how kids think about relationships.

In order to choose how to interact with someone, intentions are everything to a lot of kids. "OH! He means well, well then it's ok" is in fact something kids are TAUGHT.

"Oh that kid breaths on you in an uncomfortable way but they have a disability and they can't help the weird breathing. Because they can't help it, you should be accepting of the bahavior. Oh they are smelly but they have a difficult home life and you should give them an equal opportunity to be your friend because it's not her fault that she is smelly."

We teach kids to ignore behaviors and traits that are unpleasant when the condition is due to something beyond the child's control all the time.

"Oh I know that Sally has that weird laugh you don't like, but she can't help it and it's part of who she is so you should like her for more important things."

We are taught to tolerate all kinds of traits and behaviors in others in favor of "intentional" behaviors which are what we are taught to use to evaluate a persons quality of interaction. If we are taught to use any discriminatory process at all.

This means that if you teach kids that something is rooted in something understandable-- all the teachings they have otherwise been given about this phenomenon is to be kind and understanding. Some kids are naturally discriminitory and reject people they don't like even if coached not to, but many kids are willing to be very tolerant of others behavior and mostly just want to be liked and to give and recieve and for things to just work out.

When you teach kids a behavior is "not ok" what does that mean? That they ignore it and just know that it's not ok? Does it mean they avoid the child that is exibiting the behavior? How? What if the child keeps sitting with you at lunch and chasing you around the play ground with this behavior? I really do like stinkycheese's comments about schools taking anti-bullying stances and pro-actively teaching children what behaviors are not ok.

While it's GREAT to teach young girls to stand up to mean boys, (and any gender to stand up to any gender bullying)-- kids are kids. They haven't developed these coping mechanisms. And what they learn from adults taking the matter seriously and ensuring it pain and simply is not tolderated-- is that these behaviors are not acceptable in the world. They aren't even acceptable in a "haha innapropriate and you should but it's funny and cute" way. They aren't acceptable in a "Well that's not ideal but maybe weak kids should learn to toughen up so bullies teach valuble lessons" way. They are just plain not tolerated.

If you want to teach "weak" kids to toughen up, teach martial arts, teach self defense, teach integrity and self worth and how to be the kind of person you like, and how to understand your own limitations while still maintaining self worth.

If you want to teach tolerance and being available for people having a hard time, teach kids how to identify when one of their friends or acquintances is exibiting problems or behaviors that only an adult could possibly help that child cope with and teach them that trying to help that person as a child could in fact further hurt they "problem child" they are trying to help. Teach kids that behavioral problems do exist and sometimes kids and adults need help with them, but that this is a societal problem no one indivudual should carry the entire weight of and help your kids understand what resources exist and how to help their friends get access to those resources when needed.

I reread this and I'm a bit unsure if my words will accurately convey my meaning (I apologize I have some cognitive problems that making thinking a bit hazy for me and I feel like today is an off day), but this is so important to me, and it's something we could all participate in to change the world. I really truly believe that if we got this right (better than we are) in childhood we could truly change a lot of dynamics in relationships and reduce the prevailance of bullying, relationship abuse, and violence etc etc
posted by xarnop at 12:01 PM on February 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


When I was in third or fourth grade, a boy named Matt asked if I wanted to play soccer with his friends at recess. I was happy to be invited. He defended my inclusion to the other boys, then made sure no one knocked me down. He went on being nice to me until we went to different schools in grade seven. I took a lot of hair-pulling and teasing and "oh-he-just-likes-you" as I grew up, but I knew better. I never forgot how nicely Matt treated me. Someone raised him right.

I was and still am either unresponsive or bitchy to guys who treat me badly to get my attention (for whatever reason). If they like me, they can try being nice.
posted by swerve at 12:02 PM on February 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


This story is very well known, at least in Canada.

Yeah it was a Masterpiece Theater series in the US, too.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:11 PM on February 15, 2012


Yet another in the long lines of why I don't have kids.

cjorgensen I think your advice was succinct, honest, and practical. It is analogous to the "keep everything clean" vs. "eat dirt and build your resistances" debate in childhood education. Me, I think it is more useful to teach kids that there are assholes and morons out in the world than to seek justice for them.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:12 PM on February 15, 2012


They're doing it because they like you, you should try liking them back. I suggest sweeping the leg or the boston crab.
posted by Slackermagee at 12:16 PM on February 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


The first sentence made me think this might be yet another post written by a woman who thinks that what her and her daughter experienced isn't also experienced over and over (and over) again by boys that age, and who hasn't realized that kids are assholes to other kids.

Then it was confirmed.

If the girl had any actual power over the boy in this scenario, she'd be able to get what she wanted -- stop his aggressive/negative/unpleasant/unwanted/violent behavior towards her. She can't.

"Tag" on my 1st grade playground meant that girls tried to kick you in the balls. If they succeeded you were "it." Pretending that this is a boy problem and not a child/parent problem means either a) the problem will never be addressed effectively, or b) you've never spent time around children.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:19 PM on February 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


The version I recall getting was "he likes you, and doesn't know how to express it properly" That, at least, had the benefit of acknowledging that the boy's behavior was not appropriate. I have vague memories of further discussion that went over strategies to redirect the attention-seeking behavior if I liked the hypothetical boy back and self-defense strategies (including appeals to authority figures) if I didn't.

I did actually experience jealousy-based bullying at one point. I was much smarter and more verbally adept than the bully, and he responded with physical violence because that was the only tool he had. Although, thinking on it, that might better described as "felt threatened by" rather than "was jealous of."
posted by Karmakaze at 12:19 PM on February 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Are there any good scientific studies on this? I'm trying to look but I keep coming up with stuff like "aggression in boys and girls" when I search for stuff like "aggression from boys toward girls". I've taken a couple psych classes and I seem to recall this coming up in a lecture, where the prof said it was true that boys would get physical or pick on girls they were attracted too.
Telling people that abuse or harassment indicates the presence of love is always a lie. Every time. It is never true.
Not love, but like. Attraction. And it definitely can be true. Certainly, boys should do this kind of thing but in a lot of cases it is because they like them and aren't dealing with their feelings appropriately. But kids also pick on and bully each other for other reasons, including between genders.

I mean, the other day I saw some, I guess they were maybe 14, 15 year olds at a fast food place and one guy pulled this girls hair. They were all laughing and it was obviously flirtatious. And like I said, I remember hearing about in a college psych class.

Certainly, we should probably be telling kids that this isn't OK behavior, but I don't think we should lie to them either.

On the other hand, it's pretty clear that regular old male bullies don't have a problem picking on unpopular girls just to be mean. And there are guys who will pick on girls in a mean way because they are sexually frustrated, later on in say highschool (and then constantly post misogynistic bullshit on the internet for the rest of their lives)
I'm saying that roughhousing is not a gendered thing. Teaching girls that it's not girly to get into fights with boys and teaching girls that boys only mess with them because they have crushes on them are two sides of the same coin. They're both reinforcing yucky gender roles. I'd rather teach kids to have fun without seeing each other as alien creatures.,
Well, I realize that at some ages girls are larger then guys, but for the most part boys will usually have the 'upper hand' in any kind of roughhousing. So girls need to know how to set boundaries verbally and avoid guys who don't stay within them. When they're little though it may be that the girl might be an equal match physically for the boy.
How is him being "a volcano of self-loathing" going to leave HER with a "permanent scar" if she finally punches him back after he's been punching HER forever? Why is that HER problem?
I think they mean the other kid is going to retaliate to the point where they physically scars the girl, thus the 'subsequent altercation'. But I think that's unlikely. Just like prison, a bully isn't going to mess with someone they think might hurt them back.
Fucked-up people might be abusive toward or harass those they love, but the abuse isn't an expression of love itself, it's a sociopath emotional maladaptation.
I don't know if it's really maladaptive though, it's maladaptive for society as a whole but for the individual it might be a successful strategy, unfortunately. I did find this paper when I was looking for scientific literature, and it shows that aggressive kids in the middle school age range are more popular, and aggressive boys are more attractive to girls.
The most important findings of the study are those that confirm the predicted increase in the apparent attractiveness of aggressive peers following entry into early adolescence and the transition to middle school. Substantially higher aggression scores were ob-served after the transition to middle school than before for the boys to whom both girls and boys were attracted and for the girls to whom boys were attracted. That these differences between Time 1 and Time 2 persisted to Time 3, although on a smaller scale

...

This observation is especially strong for the boys who were attractive to girls. At the beginning of middle school, the boys who were attractive to girls had aggression scores that were two thirds of a standard deviation above the mean. Although similar findings were observed at Time 3, the size of this difference was smaller than at Time 2.
Obviously this was just one study, at one school. But this study also shows that boys like aggressive girls too, so according to this study teaching girls to fight back may make them more popular.

The other thing you have to take into consideration is the quality of the school. When I was a kid there was no physical bullying at all. None. There were a handful of 'fights' but they were always mutually agreed upon (at least the ones I saw) and they were broken up quickly. On the other hand, you hear on the news about schools where physical bullying isn't stopped. I think a lot of this has to do with the cultural norms of the area.

If the kid goes to a crappy school and you can't get them to do anything, teaching them to fight back may be the best thing to do.

Anyway, if I ever have a daughter I think I'm going enroll her in karate or something.
posted by delmoi at 12:20 PM on February 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, this is a cultural dinosaur that needs to die. Pronto. Good post.

I agree about the cultural dinosaur and needing to die part (and I think it is, albeit too slowly), but I disagree about the good post part.

It's chatfilter. The main link has no meat, other than supporting (most of) our own underlying beliefs.

Also, the conflation of violence against property (taking something from someone) and violence against persons (I'm gonna slap you, etc.) is disturbing to me as a parent. It's not OK to hit someone just because they took something from you, or else a lot of babies would have black eyes.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:21 PM on February 15, 2012


But six-year-old boys are terrible human beings.

No they're not. There's one in my house right now. He gets confused about the right thing to do sometimes, but he is also capable of great sweetness and affection. He doesn't pull the hair of or hit girls he likes, he just goes up and shyly tries to play with them (for a while he tried kissing them too, but we had to make him stop). He usually ends up happily getting bossed around by them these days. If he did hit one, there would Serious Consequences whether he had a crush or not.

Thanks for this post, though, Dojie, I too feel like I've had something explained to me that I never understood.
posted by emjaybee at 12:44 PM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


This story is very well known, at least in Canada.

Anne of Green Gables is very well known in much of the world. And yes, the trope of boys teasing girls that they like is by no means new. The author of this article is arguing precisely for dismantling that rationalization as an acceptable one.

Boys tease girls they like probably because they don't yet know how to handle their emotions. So adults should be helping them to learn how to handle their emotions in more constructive ways, rather than falling back on "well, that's just the way it is," which is part of the subtext when girls are told "that just means he likes you."
posted by bardophile at 12:44 PM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


The line "he's mean because he likes you" is obviously harmful b.s, but having little kids in my life that I care about, I now understand where it comes from.

Sure, when we were kids we knew that bullies were mean to us because we were easy targets (fat, skinny, weird skin, poor, nerdy, whatever), and it was clearly false when adults said "oh, he likes you" or "he's jealous" or whatever.

But as an adult I can't imagine coming out and confirming that for a kid I love: "yup, the bully teased you because you're [fat, skinny, whatever]". How can you confirm the truth (you're an easy target because of arbitrary factors that don't relate to your actual worth) in a way that doesn't make the kid suspect in their gut that you, the adult, buy into the value system of the playground?
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:48 PM on February 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


And to be perfectly honest, I think teaching little girls that sometimes people who like (or love) them are going to hit them is a great message because it's true. You just also have to teach them that the fact that someone loves them does not excuse the hitting.

Sorry, Bulgaroktonos, I was on board with the distinction you were making until this part.

You see, what I'm gleaning is that people do not hit you because they like / love you. Love and friendship are never an impetus to physical aggression. NEVER. NEVER. I get that you're saying a person that loves / likes them may hit them, but I can guarantee you that it is never out of love. It is out of frustration, or dominance, or mental imbalance, or something else. Not because of affection.

And why would you teach little girls that people that like / love them might someday strike them? What life would you expect these little girls to lead? I plan on teaching any little jabberjaws that they should look forward to a life of never being struck by anybody, ever, for any reason, and if they do, respond appropriately, and don't ever excuse the behavior, and don't ever think it's a sign of affection.

Also, as anecdata, I have absolutely no recollection of ever physically teasing any girl because I liked her. I would either avoid the ones I liked out of shyness, or just be extra awkward around them.
posted by jabberjaw at 12:50 PM on February 15, 2012 [6 favorites]



I think the point is that a boy's proto-romantic interest is not the important thing if he's being physically aggressive/disrespectful. To say that it "doesn't diminish the truth" of that statement undercuts the importance of girls' experiences and subordinates them to the hurtful whims of boys. Boys' feelings, whatever they may be, are not more important than those of girls, and the implication that it's important to discern if they "really" like the girl or not is a red herring.


Jesus, thank you.

When I was in high school, a boy set my hair on fire with a can of hairspray and a lighter. Burned the side of my face and the back of my neck, and burned off a good bit of hair. Thank dog for remembering "stop, drop, and roll", or things could have been a lot worse than melted hair and some blistering. I was suspended for screaming "stupid motherfucker, what the fuck is WRONG with you?". He got detention.

My Opa was livid, and we went to the Dean the next morning to demand a repeal of the suspension and a penalty for the boy who hurt me. The Dean waved it off with "He did it because he likes you. You shouldn't be so hard on him." That was the day Opa gave me permission, right in front of the Dean, to beat the ever loving fuck out of anyone who laid a hand on me, so long as I didn't start it.

No, sorry, the boys that hurt girls don't do it because they like them. The do it because they're entitled little assholes who need a taste of their own godsdamned medicine.
posted by MissySedai at 12:55 PM on February 15, 2012 [36 favorites]


That is, I can imagine the (bad and harmful) line "he's mean because he likes you" coming from wanting to endorse two ideas:
1. He was mean, I believe you.
2. You are intrinsically lovable and I refuse to acknowledge there is any reason why someone wouldn't love you.

And suppress the idea:
He thinks he can be mean at no cost to himself because you are an easy target. There is a social hierarchy and you fall in a certain place in that hierarchy, not determined by your lovability or worth, or by anything you can change. When you are a lot older, different social hierarchies will take over and change your position, so hang in there until then.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:57 PM on February 15, 2012


A thought:

I do indeed sympathize with the idea that some immature guys may, in their awkwardness, act like idiots around girls. I absolutely think it's understandable.

However, the rest of the world already cuts awkward, immature guys a great deal of slack already, so I'm not seeing why we should preserve this one bit.

Also, consider: it's also "understandable" that someone who's starving may be thus driven to steal food from a supermarket. But we arrest them for shoplifting nevertheless.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:57 PM on February 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


But six-year-old boys are terrible human beings.

I wish it were possible to flag part of a post, because, I'm sorry, but I think this is an incredibly fucked up thing to say.

In my observation as a parent, it seems to me that six year old boys are a lot like the rest of us: they're trying hard every single day to figure All This Shit out.

You know the distinction Jay Smooth makes about letting someone know that something they've done or said is racist versus saying that the person is a racist? I think we need to do something similar for this discussion.

Both little girls and little boys can do and say terrible things, but under no circumstances should we say they are terrible, or, as the blog author says of young boys in her main post and in the comments, little assholes.
posted by lord_wolf at 1:05 PM on February 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


I understand her outrage and agree boys pulling a girl's hair is not acceptable but her rhetoric is a tad over-the-top. Let's have a dialogue about this not a shouting match or pay back.
posted by Rashomon at 1:19 PM on February 15, 2012


But as an adult I can't imagine coming out and confirming that for a kid I love: "yup, the bully teased you because you're [fat, skinny, whatever]". How can you confirm the truth (you're an easy target because of arbitrary factors that don't relate to your actual worth) in a way that doesn't make the kid suspect in their gut that you, the adult, buy into the value system of the playground?

"He's bullying you because he likes to push people around. Maybe it makes him feel good to make other people feel bad, maybe he just has a lot of energy and doesn't know how to use it appropriately. Whatever the cause, it is wrong, and we are going to work together with your teachers to make sure he stops behaving like this to you or to anyone else."
posted by arcticwoman at 1:24 PM on February 15, 2012 [37 favorites]


Love it!
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:28 PM on February 15, 2012


When I worked as a cashier at a service station (with all men), some of them would block my path, rearrange merchandise I had just stocked, "accidentally" bump the stepladder I was using, and similar things. When I'd made it clear I didn't appreciate it, I was called a bitch. That didn't bother me as much as a friend/co-worker who told me that they were just doing it because they liked me and I should just calm down. Another popular one was "oh, they're just intimidated by your intelligence."

I should have just walked out, but I was 19 and I thought this was just the way things were. I wonder where I got that idea?
posted by desjardins at 1:30 PM on February 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


I think you have nailed the best response, arcticwoman. THAT response would have made me feel empowered as a little girl.
posted by cairdeas at 1:39 PM on February 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Bulgaroktonos said: And to be perfectly honest, I think teaching little girls that sometimes people who like (or love) them are going to hit them is a great message because it's true. You just also have to teach them that the fact that someone loves them does not excuse the hitting.

It's important because it's always helpful to understand why people around you are doing what they're doing. If the boy is harassing her because he's acting out for attention or because he's a hateful little fuck, I would also tell her that.


You are seriously overestimating the cognitive abilities of children. These are ideas that some adults can't keep straight, let alone kids. The results of decades of study of the stages of development of cognition refute what you are saying.

More information (so long as it's accurate) is always useful.

So, so untrue in this argument.
posted by tzikeh at 1:40 PM on February 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think you have nailed the best response, arcticwoman.

Agreed. It's great because it puts the onus where it belongs: on the kid doing the pushing/hair-pulling/bullying, rather than saying "Some thing intrinsic to who you are is making this kid hit you."
posted by rtha at 1:48 PM on February 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


Maybe there is such a thing as playful teasing, but this wasn’t it. Playful teasing requires consent, and mutual respect, neither of which I had given her at the time. I’m ashamed of my actions, and I’m going to apologize to her.

I had a coworker at a previous job who had fairly unusual eating habits*, and everyone else in my department "teased" her about it, supposedly affectionately or in jest. And it always bothered me, but I never had a way to articulate it. (I had a tricky reaction to her habits myself, since they're very similar to the diet of the sister who drives me nuts.) Thank you for being thoughtful enough to realize what's happening in your situation, and for putting that awareness into action.

* No vegetables at all, TBH a picky eater in general. Her favorite food was McDonald's hamburgers with no condiments.
posted by epersonae at 1:49 PM on February 15, 2012


More information (so long as it's accurate) is always useful.

tzikeh: So, so untrue in this argument.


And not only that, even people who assert that more information is always better, pretty much never actually act that way with kids.

If a relative dies, most people would tell a 7 year old just that the relative went to heaven. Most non-religious people would tell a 7 year old some variant of the relative not suffering anymore, going back to the earth or the universe, something about the cycle of life. Nobody, not even the most gung-ho about the greatness of information, gives all the gory details about the suffering of the relative before death, the fear, the decomposition now taking place, etc.

Because it could mentally mess up the child.
posted by cairdeas at 1:54 PM on February 15, 2012


And why would you teach little girls that people that like / love them might someday strike them? What life would you expect these little girls to lead?

One like mine, perhaps? I was told this thing all the time. I was threatened, hit, and physically harassed by little boys nearly every day, through age thirteen or so -- a change of school stopped it, although no one took it seriously enough for that to be the reason for my changing schools. It's only in the past few years that I have actually stopped and marvelled at the things I took from boys. When I was young, it eventually stopped hurting me, which meant the worst of all -- necrotic tissue. The world was Boys Against Girls. I accepted this.

Not long ago, I was thinking of this very thing, and it brought to mind a brief moment in The Once and Future King by T.H. White, a passage in which four young brothers are looking for something to do.

The idea which the children had was to hurt the donkeys. Nobody had told them that it was cruel to hurt them, but then, nobody had told the donkeys either. On the rim of the world they knew too much about cruelty to be surprised by it.

Grownups had always been kind to me, on the whole, so I believed them when they told me what boys were thinking. This was chief among many, many cultural influences that taught me that a man's fondness for a woman was his cruelty and that a woman's fondness for a man was her humiliation. The damage of that mindset was nearly irreversible. I'm still sorting through it.

How many men have expressed their contempt for women who love "jerks" and "assholes"? How many of them have gone on to tell their crying daughters what little boys really mean?
posted by Countess Elena at 2:03 PM on February 15, 2012 [27 favorites]


Like most of the women who've shared stories, I got the "he likes you" line when a boy named Benji was torturing me in 3rd grade. And he lived next door, so it was incessant. I had bruises from this kid, but the nuns never stopped him at school, and his parents and my parents just brushed it off, until one day, walking back from school, he called my name, one one of his little friends pushed my 4 year old sister into a busy street while benji rubbed a smashed grapefruit into my eyes.

I don't remember getting up, I do remember the squeal of tires before I bodily threw him into traffic. When the cops got there, I was kicking his friend in the head and yelling something about "fuck with me, fine...Fuck with my sister and I'll kill you." I was 9, and I beat up 3 12 year old boys before ambulances and cops arrived.

I went to juvie, spent the night there before the judge threw out the charges and told benji's parents that the next time there was trouble, she would blame benji. I liked her, she was the first person to tell me that it wasn't ok for boys to hit me.

Times have changed, but I still hear people making the same excuses for violence against girls that they would never use if the bully was picking on another boy.
posted by dejah420 at 2:39 PM on February 15, 2012 [36 favorites]


You are seriously overestimating the cognitive abilities of children. These are ideas that some adults can't keep straight, let alone kids. The results of decades of study of the stages of development of cognition refute what you are saying.

Seriously? The "some bullies are trying to get your attention, so ignore them" line was standard in my house and I understood it pretty well. I'd also challenge the idea that any kid who is bullied can't understand that different bullies do things for different reasons, I was also pretty clear on that after I got my second bully, which was pretty early on. Hell, even in Kindergarten I could tell the difference between the girl who chased me around the playground and the guy who stuffed paper in my mouth. The problem a lot of people here seem to have had is that people told them that bullies were doing things "because they like you" when that was clearly untrue; I'd venture to say that it's usually untrue but not always.

Oh, but I'm sorry, you've got some completely ephemeral "decades of study" to back up your point, so I'll defer to you and lie to my children about things important to their lives, I'm sure that will help them.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 3:06 PM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know what doesn't work? Venting on the Internet.

artemisia: You know what? I seriously had never thought about it that way. I have that high, dizzy feeling like I got when reading Susan Faludi's Backlash - something familiar made strange and revealed to be profoundly disturbing.

Doleful Creature: I’m ashamed of my actions, and I’m going to apologize to her. Thank you for posting this article, it’s really opened my eyes.


These and a few other comments on here about how parents will respond to their kids if this happens to them in the future makes me think that venting on the internet sometimes does work.

Also, on another note: desjardins: When I worked as a cashier at a service station (with all men), some of them would block my path, rearrange merchandise I had just stocked, "accidentally" bump the stepladder I was using, and similar things. When I'd made it clear I didn't appreciate it, I was called a bitch.

This comment reminded me of living in Latin America as a white woman (although to make my point I don't think it really matters that I'm white): I think machismo is a kind of brand of this playground "adorable harassment" that never really goes away. Slapping a woman's ass as she walks by or similar actions are encouraged by many cultures to be taken as a compliment. I would argue that they shouldn't be, and I think that sentiment is beginning to become more common in many societies.
posted by chela at 3:11 PM on February 15, 2012 [11 favorites]


I still hear people making the same excuses for violence against girls that they would never use if the bully was picking on another boy

Although, in my experience, the same people who make excuses for violence against girls also make excuses for bullies picking on other boys. Just slightly different variations on the same lame excuses. Some people honestly value aggression in boys, and actively cultivate it. Others are just too lazy or ill-equipped to know how else to deal with it. Girls are told to take it and even value it as positive attention, while boys are told to handle it or suck it up. Neither of which works particularly well. And then the cycle starts all over again.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:15 PM on February 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


You know I can imagine shitty teachers telling girls to laugh it off or boys will be boys, I can imagine the boys' parents saying the same thing but how do you tell your own daughter that someone upsetting her is acceptable?

I try to help my daughter refuse to accept anything other than respect and also to show respect to others but the overwhelming amount of pressure on girls/women to submit to subservience astounds me. It's insidious and everywhere.

The hardest thing to teach her is that even if adults think something is right it doesn't make her wrong.

Until then, Fus Ro Dah to the seven-year-old patriarchy.
posted by fullerine at 3:16 PM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, but I'm sorry, you've got some completely ephemeral "decades of study" to back up your point, so I'll defer to you and lie to my children about things important to their lives, I'm sure that will help them.

Do you explain to your 7-year-old the *real* reason an adult might try to touch her or his private parts? Do you expect them to a) want to know and b) be able to understand that that adult wants to have sex with children because the adult is confused/damaged from childhood abuse/etc.?

You have the "good touch/bad touch" talk by explaining that not every adult is a good person, and if an adult touches them in a bad way to come tell you. That's all they need to know at that age, even though "the truth" is much larger, scarier, and more complicated.

Why not just tell your kid who's getting her hair pulled or his balls kicked what arcticwoman said?

Also, it's just pure fact that kids literally have different brains from adults. Their cognitive abilities at age 7 are different from what they are at 15 are different from what they are at 25.
posted by rtha at 3:19 PM on February 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


Some people honestly value aggression in boys, and actively cultivate it.

Conversely it's sometimes said by parents who'd rather discipline their children at home than in the middle of a conference with the teacher or other parents etc. I remember the few occasions when my parents had to come to the school for something bad I'd done and hearing my parents and the principal sort of laugh something off as "haha boys will be boys, right?" Then once we were in the car, it was a whole other story and I was in trouble. Still, I can agree that you probably shouldn't tell the victim of violence "LOL relax, it's a love tap!"
posted by Hoopo at 3:25 PM on February 15, 2012


The problem a lot of people here seem to have had is that people told them that bullies were doing things "because they like you" when that was clearly untrue; I'd venture to say that it's usually untrue but not always.

Let's suppose you're right. Let's suppose that there really are bullies who only bully "because they like you" and that kids are able to understand and process "this bully likes you but they're showing their affection in the wrong way, so just ignore them; but oh, that bully is picking on you because you're weak, so you should confront them."

How the fuck does your child, or even you, know which is which? Are you going to interrogate the aggressor somehow? Especially after apparently you've been stonewalled both by school authorities and the other parents?
posted by kmz at 3:31 PM on February 15, 2012


Hrm. I'm a bit disappointed that people haven't been more clear about what age children they're referring to in their comments, because we've got people talking about six-year olds and people talking about bra-snapping and getting called bitch, and it's pretty clear they're not referring to the same set of kids.

I often like MeFi discussions more than the links, but this one kind of seems like three or four entirely different discussions running on parallel tracks at once.
posted by Amanojaku at 3:39 PM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


You see, what I'm gleaning is that people do not hit you because they like / love you. Love and friendship are never an impetus to physical aggression. NEVER. NEVER. I get that you're saying a person that loves / likes them may hit them, but I can guarantee you that it is never out of love. It is out of frustration, or dominance, or mental imbalance, or something else. Not because of affection.
Well, you're making distinctions where there are none, between some types of causes and other types. If two things need to be true (attraction, plus frustration) for something to happen then they are both 'causes'. Of course it's possible to be attracted to someone without 'liking' them. Attraction here is a more clear term.
When I was in high school, a boy set my hair on fire with a can of hairspray and a lighter. Burned the side of my face and the back of my neck, and burned off a good bit of hair. Thank dog for remembering "stop, drop, and roll", or things could have been a lot worse than melted hair and some blistering. I was suspended for screaming "stupid motherfucker, what the fuck is WRONG with you?". He got detention.
The big problem in a lot of these stories is shitty school administrators, who aren't willing to make sure kids are safe.
posted by delmoi at 3:49 PM on February 15, 2012


I like it! I respect her anger! No one should be told to put up with abuse. I think the only reason that I wasn't told this kind of thing is that I was bigger than the boys and they were afraid to pick on me. Seriously, I was the tallest kid during the first 6 years of school. And they let me play soccer with them, so I guess they didn't hate me necessarily, ie they "liked" me. The crappy girls picked on me in high school though (verbally). I guess they didn't think I was going to hit them. And they were right. Sure, I could have, but I don't think it ever crossed my mind. Because no one in my immediate family puts up with that or does that. And I wish more people had that.
posted by Listener at 3:52 PM on February 15, 2012


Huh? Did I wander into a weird bizarro universe again? The harmful cliche I always heard growing up was that girls hit/teased/harassed/abused boys to show an affectionate interest. I'm totally bamboozled that the opposite is apparently so widespread. Like, speechlessly so--I kept expecting the article to reframe itself somehow and it never did. It's totally straight faced.

I have never heard of this before. I remember it being a very common thing for the adults to tell little boys when little girls hit them, but when little boys hit little girls everyone flipped out and the boy would be yanked off to the principal or Nearest Authority Figure.
posted by byanyothername at 4:00 PM on February 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I grew up in the 70s, am a girl, and can report that I had the "oh he's just doing it because he likes you" thing said to me (by teachers, not by my mom).

In any case, it's harmful no matter who has to hear it - the boy being picked on by girls, or the girl being picked on by boys.
posted by rtha at 4:09 PM on February 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


And, thinking about it, I'm pretty sure I remember hearing it in both private and public schools in the U.S., and private school in England (from the ages of, say, 5-11).
posted by rtha at 5:03 PM on February 15, 2012


In third grade I was picked on by the boys in Catholic school, and the nuns turned a blind eye. Even at that age, I knew horses defend themselves by kicking, and I was more horse than kid anyway. (Thanks to my passion, all the girls played 'driving the horse' with their jump ropes rather than jumping with them or used them as lassos in a game of 'chase the wild horses.' If the nuns took the jump ropes away, I could still be a horse, and they reined using my pigtails, or we all ran wild, screaming and neighing until they gave up and let us tame each other into quietness.

If picked on, I started kicking little bullies. Those were the days of black and white saddle shoes, hard soled, and made of leather. I got to where I could kick a kid in the shins and leave a bruise that would last for DAYS. The little buggers quit messing with me, and when I started defending friends, they quit messing with all the girls they'd been tormenting. Two of them ganged up on me one day and blacked my eye and split my lip. The nuns blamed ME! Was so pissed that I had detention, I almost kicked the nun. (Fortunately, I resisted temptation.) I later cornered them later one at a time and kicked hard enough to cut their shins in several places.

Anyway, if I ever have a daughter I think I'm going enroll her in karate or something.

Buy her hard soled shoes or boots. Teach her to kick.
posted by BlueHorse at 5:11 PM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


The problem a lot of people here seem to have had is that people told them that bullies were doing things "because they like you" when that was clearly untrue; I'd venture to say that it's usually untrue but not always.

Oh, but I'm sorry, you've got some completely ephemeral "decades of study" to back up your point, so I'll defer to you and lie to my children about things important to their lives, I'm sure that will help them.


Ignoring the fact that you yourself are lying by implying that anyone in this thread has suggested that children should be lied to, can you explain how it WON'T help a girl to tell her "He's bullying you because he likes to push people around. Maybe it makes him feel good to make other people feel bad, maybe he just has a lot of energy and doesn't know how to use it appropriately. Whatever the cause, it is wrong, and we are going to work together with your teachers to make sure he stops behaving like this to you or to anyone else."

Non-rhetorically, how is that unhelpful?
posted by 23skidoo at 5:13 PM on February 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Oh, but I'm sorry, you've got some completely ephemeral "decades of study" to back up your point,

Oh, for....

Pick up a book on childhood development. "Ephemeral?" Please. While studying for a degree in education, I spent a significant amount of time on what children are and are not able to comprehend and process at specific ages. Giving, say, a six-year-old the kind of information you suggest will not help them, and will likely make any understanding they might have of the situation worse.

But go ahead and wave away the extensive research--psychological, physiological, longitudinal cognitive studies, endless work with spatial, logical, concrete, and abstract understanding and various stages in child and adolescent perception and concept assimilation abilities, because I obviously have no idea what I'm talking about and you're the expert in the extents and limits of thought processes in children.
posted by tzikeh at 5:36 PM on February 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


The big problem in a lot of these stories is shitty school administrators, who aren't willing to make sure kids are safe.

And it has only become worse in the 24 years since I graduated. Elder Monster was assaulted on school grounds, in front of teachers and administrators, and it was handwaved off as "kids will be kids" until the day a kid choked him and he punched his attacker in the head to get him to stop. Elder Monster was suspended under the assumption that he must have done something to cause the attack, and we ended up having a Come To Jesus meeting with school administrators that ended much like my Opa's meeting with my high school Dean - I gave him explicit permission to lay a beatdown on anyone who touched him.

In two more years, Younger Monster will be the fuck out of there, and I can wash my hands of the imbecility that is the American Public High School experience for good. It was pretty iffy as to whether Elder Monster was going to make it out in one piece. Zero Tolerance is shorthand for "Admins with thumbs up their asses."


Huh? Did I wander into a weird bizarro universe again? The harmful cliche I always heard growing up was that girls hit/teased/harassed/abused boys to show an affectionate interest. I'm totally bamboozled that the opposite is apparently so widespread.

"Georgie Porgie, puddin' and pie/Kissed the girls and made them cry" doesn't ring a bell with you? "Boys tease/upset/assault you because they like you" has been around since dirt was new.
posted by MissySedai at 5:52 PM on February 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Tag" on my 1st grade playground meant that girls tried to kick you in the balls. If they succeeded you were "it." Pretending that this is a boy problem and not a child/parent problem means either a) the problem will never be addressed effectively, or b) you've never spent time around children.

Oh wow, I had completely forgotten about this, but my grade school had one girl who was infamous for kicking boys in the balls. She had a blonde afro so her nickname was "The Clown" and she would just walk straight up, look you in the eyes, no word said, and take you down. And nobody did anything about that either.

And yes, it did finally happen to me. I was approaching a corner of the school building during recess, and - I still remember this so vividly (so painfully) - I was about to turn the corner and she stepped right out in front of me, and I just had time to think CLOWN! before the awful crunch and that hideous interval between the time you get squared and the time that sickening pain begins.
posted by stinkycheese at 5:52 PM on February 15, 2012


Yeah, I'm not doubting that it's a thing. I'm just surprised because it's a thing I remember but think of in a particularly gendered way and didn't realize it isn't a gendered thing.
posted by byanyothername at 5:58 PM on February 15, 2012


I have anecdata too, about being bullied. By boys, by girls. About the unhelpful advice I received from parents, from teachers, from peers.

Now that I'm a parent, I see the other side, too. I remember, even before asking "What should I do about this?", I remember asking, "But WHY?" Why me, why this, why?

And I got the same responses. "They like you, they just don't know how to communicate it." "They are jealous of you." Whatever. Maybe it's parents don't want to know the real reason (you're a social misfit). Maybe they get out of the habit of saying "I don't know." Maybe they want to offer some slight comfort to their obviously hurting child.

But here's the thing that kids don't get, and parents and teachers really really SHOULD, and it should be their duty to teach their kids: Why doesn't matter. Not in this context. When you are dealing with the recipient of any kind of harassment, the why should be the last part you address. Don't you think? Address communication, address safety, address self-awareness and address the victim's psyche, because that is who you are talking to. Make sure they know how to take care of themselves, to stand up for themselves, feel safe, feel valued. And make sure that they know that the WHY DOESN'T MATTER.

The only person who should be talking about the whys of harassment is the harasser. Deal with the bully--whether six years old or sixteen or sixty--by emphasizing that this is NOT OK BEHAVIOR, and helping them refocus their behavior almost certainly will have to address the whys and wherefores of their original motivation.

But when you are dealing with the recipient of the unwanted attention, arctic woman's response is the closest I can see to saying, "You know what? WHY s/he is doing this doesn't matter." Because it doesn't. It really really really doesn't. HOW you are going to deal with it DOES.

The sooner those boys who "do this because they like her" realize it isn't okay, the sooner they stop. And the sooner girls who "do this because they like him" realize it isn't okay, the sooner they stop. And the sooner bullies of all genders who "do this because they are angry/are jealous/are small-minded shits" realize that IT DOESN"T MATTER WHY THEY DO IT, THEY JUST NEED TO STOP, the better off we all are.

But maybe that's just me.
posted by e to the pi i at 6:09 PM on February 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


Oh wow, I had completely forgotten about this, but my grade school had one girl who was infamous for kicking boys in the balls. She had a blonde afro so her nickname was "The Clown" and she would just walk straight up, look you in the eyes, no word said, and take you down. And nobody did anything about that either.

I'm sorry I laughed at this. It actually reminds me of something I did in the fourth grade. I was walking back to my desk after recess, without a teacher in the room, and I took a notion to choke this one boy. I wasn't mad at him -- he was an okay kid, he'd done nothing wrong -- I just wanted to throttle someone. If an adult says, "Aargh, I want to strangle someone!" you understand that they're expressing frustration, but at the time, I didn't feel frustrated. I just thought it would be fun to strangle him a little. Because, apparently, that is what I believed people do.

So I did, and I walked away laughing. I'll never forget the angry, hurt look of him as he turned and rubbed his neck and said, "HEY! What was that for?" It had honestly never occurred to me that he would feel bad, or feel much of anything. I wish I could say I apologized, because I felt bad right away, but I just said something bratty.

He wasn't a picked-on kid, so I deeply, sincerely hope that didn't stay in his memory for long. I feel very bad about it now.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:11 PM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


My parents consistently told me that "he does it because he likes you." My parents are nice, well-meaning people and I think that they believed what they were saying. They may even have been accurate. But, of course, it doesn't matter. Whether the boys liked me was beside the point.

Abuse was the only attention I got from boys. It is a very bad thing to get abuse and affection muddled up in one's mind, especially during the formative years.

Though it did stop my main abuser, finally, when I started openly liking him back. Then he ignored me completely.
posted by gentian at 7:03 PM on February 15, 2012


I am going to punch you in the face but I hope you realize it is just my way of thanking you for the great advice you gave my daughter.

I kinda wish the author used non-violent language here. (I get that it's done for effect.) But I'm a bit of a hippie/pacifist.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:02 PM on February 15, 2012


Anyway, if I ever have a daughter I think I'm going enroll her in karate or something.

This. I wish like hell I'd known self-defense when I was being attacked by classmates and at home by my biological excuse for a mother. "Just ignore it" doesn't stop it, "sticks and stones" results in crap being thrown more often than not.
posted by brujita at 10:46 PM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


There was Christine B. impossible to approach a 4th grade goddess. What could I do to make her see that I existed?  How about this?  When the class plays tag and I am it I will tag her. I zero in on her like a missile my focus a testament to my ardor. She sees me coming and knows she can't escape that she will be it so she stops. I apply my tag to her shoulder and unable to stop plow through her.
The asphalt scrapes her hand and in between sobs screams "you stupid idiot". I can't believe that my plan has failed so badly.
I have hurt her because I liked her.  
posted by pianomover at 12:48 AM on February 16, 2012


Holy shit, the "tone argument" is strong in this thread.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:23 AM on February 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Holy shit, so what? She threatened physical violence no less than three times in four paragraphs and called a elementary-school-age child an asshole. People are reacting to that; her hypocrisy isn't negated by just referring to "some idea in quotes".
posted by Dano St at 6:51 AM on February 16, 2012


I want my daughter to know that the boy called her ugly or pushed her or pulled her hair didn’t do it because he admires her, it is because he is a little asshole and assholes are an occurrence of society that will have to be dealt with for the rest of her life.

It's probably true that he both does have a crush on her and is a little asshole; the lesson there is to teach your daughter to ignore the assholes who like her and leave room for the suitors who aren't assholes.

No one pointed that out to me, but I'll point it out to my daughters *and* sons.
posted by mibo at 6:52 AM on February 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Holy shit, the "tone argument" is strong in this thread.

I don't see any tone argument happening. She makes repeated threats of violence and calls a child an asshole. Those are pretty legitimate things to be bothered by and no one is dismissing her ideas because of it. I posted the thing and agree wholeheartedly with the point she's making, but it still bothers me. I guarantee that if the gender issues were removed, someone calling a child an asshole and threatening to slap and punch people would get just as many, if not more complaints.
posted by Dojie at 6:56 AM on February 16, 2012


I mean, the other day I saw some, I guess they were maybe 14, 15 year olds at a fast food place and one guy pulled this girls hair. They were all laughing and it was obviously flirtatious. And like I said, I remember hearing about in a college psych class.

This seems to be a consistent theme in the thread. I think there's a misunderstanding here.

Case 1: "Boy hurts girl because he likes her."

Case 2: "Boy likes girl. Boy hurts same girl."

I think the problem a lot of people have with Case 1 is the implied causality, not the reality of the situation.
posted by odinsdream at 7:07 AM on February 16, 2012


It's probably true that he both does have a crush on her and is a little asshole

How is it probably true that he has a crush on her? I have seen little supporting the statement. Other than pianomover, who accidentally hurt somebody he had a crush on, who here has gone out and intentionally injured or insulted somebody because of attraction or admiration?

I think this is that kind of old wisdom that needs to be done away with. While I concede that "Boy likes girl, boy hurts same girl" is often a reality, I do not think that "Boy hurts girl because he likes her" is ever 'probably' true. It is a sweetness that validates the likability of of the girl and the underlying goodness of the boy, but it is a fabricated sweetness.

Look at it this way: if true, then it not only creates a horrible worldview for girls that insults and physical aggression is a sign of love, but it also creates a horrible worldview for boys that insults and physical aggression is a sign of love. Any worldview that adopts "I abuse you because I love you" as a valid worldview sickens me.

There are a number of innocent reasons for the little boy to hit the little girl. I don't think that the little boy is evil or a bully necessarily, especially at something like 6 years of age. It's possible that he's enacting something he saw elsewhere, or doesn't understand physical boundaries, or needs to establish that he's bigger or better than somebody, or he needs attention. But saying he hits her because he likes her does not factor into any of that. Acts of dominance, pain infliction and terror are never acts of affection. Linking the two in order to promulgate some old adage is irresponsible.
posted by jabberjaw at 10:58 AM on February 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh for pete's sake, the elephant in this thread that people seem to be ignoring is that kids need to learn how to act. That goes for girls and boys. Boys sometimes employ physical manipulation, girls sometimes employ emotional manipulation (obviously it sometimes goes the other way too). Neither is a good thing. Physical and emotional manipulation can *both* have extremely serious consequences - but they usually don't.

Do boys ever hit girls just because they're jerks? Sure! Do boys ever pull hair or whatever because they like a girl? Of course they do. They just don't know how to act. They don't know what to do with their feelings. Is anyone surprised to hear that boys in our society may not handle their emotions well or know how best to express them?
posted by stinkycheese at 11:42 AM on February 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Stinkycheese, I don't think anyone is disputing the fact that sometimes boys don't know how to act. They're disputing the notion that we should therefore let them continue to mis-act unchecked.

The argument here is: for whatever reason, when one of those boys who doesn't know how to act DOES act out like that, we tend to reassure the girl "oh, he just likes you" -- but neither she, nor anyone else, takes the boy aside and says "yo, don't do that." And that has created an even BIGGER problem. Because then when that girl runs into a boy who is acting inappropriately because he IS a jerk, the girl says "oh, he just likes me" and puts up with it.

Instead, people are saying, how about we tell the girls "be the one to tell the boy 'yo, don't do that,'" so that if he IS a boy who doesn't know how to manage his feelings, he can GET that help, because now he knows, "well, I may not know what TO do, but now I know I shouldn't do THAT." And also, the girl realizes, "hey, wait, I don't have to put up with this bullshit, even if it's coming from someone who likes me."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:07 PM on February 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


What, so we're all gritching and bitching because we like each other? {|}

Anyway, this needs repeating:

Telling people that abuse or harassment indicates the presence of love is always a lie. Every time. It is never true.

I can't count the number of times I was picked on and teased and nobody did shit except one teacher - she always told the girls to hit back. One kid in particular was poking me from behind with his pencil, and I reached back and smacked him. I looked guiltily to the front, and she locked eyes with me and applauded quietly.

But the real harm was from family. I had an incredibly sarcastic, mean uncle, who treated us kids like shit. The less said about my grandparents the better. "But they love you, they really do." came from my parents. Oh, they'd get into fights with them if it got really bad, but hey, family business, can't live without money, right?

And then my parents were surprised when I dated jerks.
posted by lysdexic at 2:51 PM on February 16, 2012


[Back it up and GO TO METATALK if all you want to do is be shitty to other people, or preferably just take a walk. Thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 5:52 PM on February 16, 2012


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