I originally wrote this post in 2015. When I was deciding what content I wanted to keep and update, I was annoyed that this post is still so relevant. Not because my feelings about the subject have changed - I stand by every word I wrote - but despite the work being done through amazing organizations like Time's Up, The Women's March, and Emily's List, there is still so much work to be done.
So one more time for the people in the back:
A while back, I read an article written by a mother asking parents of her son's girlfriends not to threaten her son just because he's a hormonal, teenage boy.
I don't disagree with her plea. The idea that someone's father or mother might openly threaten a teenager that's dating their daughter is pretty antiquated. What I disagree with is the fact that she leaves a lot of responsibility to the girl and her parents when it comes to educating people how to behave in a relationship. She only hints at the boy's responsibility in a single, vague sentence.
In college, I took a course called Leadership in a Diverse Society. A portion of the class covered how leadership was impacted by gender and assumed gender roles. One day we had an activity where we examined experiences that were directly impacted by gender. The whole class sat in a circle so that we could immediately have an understanding of the different experiences in the room.
The conversation turned towards leaders in relationships and I will never forget the question that baffled every boy in the room: How many of you have ever felt intimidated or endangered on a date, not because the person is known to be act violently, but due to their size and gender?
Every single girl in the class raised their hand.
I recall several of the boys visibly disturbed by this statistic. They had no idea, let alone understanding, of what it must feel like to sit across from someone at dinner and wonder if they were capable of physically hurting you.
"It has never once crossed my mind on any date I've been on," one of the boys said.
The average height of men in the US is about 5' 10" while women are average about 5' 4". That's a significant size different, especially when you factor in weight. It makes sense why men might have never thought about the potential of physical abuse when they go on a date.
I agree with Kasey Ferris that we should not be threatening teenage boys when they start dating. But I wonder Ms. Ferris, did you ever consider what the girl across the table might be thinking about your son? It has nothing to do with the young man as a person; it just comes down to physicality.
What we NEED to do is educate both boys and girls appropriate ways to interact in relationships: