Recently, in Redwood City, CA, five teenage boys were charged with the intent to commit rape on two of their female classmates during a school field trip. Everyone involved was between the ages of 12 and 14. What are we communicating to our boys that makes any of them think that violence towards women is OK? The report says the boys took the “seventh-grade girls to a secluded area and assaulted them for five to eight minutes.” What must they think about a girl’s value to be able to inflict such violence upon them? We have to address rape and violence towards women in our culture head on, and acknowledge that our boys may be growing up with unhealthy values and attitudes towards women.
When I first read the article, I was sitting in the hospital recovering from the birth of my son Hunter. And I suddenly became even more concerned with the media’s impact on our boys….what will be required of me to ensure that my son doesn’t become a victim to the media’s negative messaging about women as other boys have become? Whether it’s video games or music videos, the objectification of women across all platforms of media and advertising has led to a cultural acceptance of inequality and violence that clearly impacts our young children. How do I teach Hunter to believe in women when so much of what he will see everyday says it’s OK not to?
I believe we can challenge the media’s limiting portrayal of our women; we can empower our girls to believe in themselves despite all of this; and, we can teach our boys to respect everyone around them equally. Take the pledge here to be the change you wish to see for women and girls. And tell us about the great work you are already doing on Facebook, or by signing on to Twitter and using #MissRep.