"Keep Your Hands to Yourself but Kiss Me When I Say So."

Keep your hands to yourself & your private parts are yours - no one else's - but kiss me when I say so, hug whoever I say you should hug, and don't ask any questions.


What is going on?

I cringe every time my son is forced to share his body through hugs or kisses. Why? Because it goes against all of the lessons of respecting the consent and privacy (of girls and women especially), that I am trying to teach him by sending him mixed signals. It is often presented as an issue for little girls but I see particular importance in relation to boys. I hate the binary, too. I am by no means the first or thousandth person to write about this, hence the brevity. 

Hugs turn into little scuffles, small wrestling matches due to his resistance. That becomes normalized. You see where I'm going here?

If he is forced into being hugged and to give kisses or be kissed repeatedly, he will likely feel like he can do that to someone he wants to show affection to. Why not? Maybe he will be accused of not understanding a classmate's privacy or he may find himself confused about someone refusing an embrace from him and force himself onto them out of frustration. Especially if he is used to that type of interaction.

People grab him! I don't know why they are fascinated with his private areas, but they are. They explicitly talk about the size of his penis, which scares me in general but he just turned 6, y'all. Six! The consistent attention to his private areas does him no justice. I don't even know why it is. It seems rather pedophelic but I guess that doesn't count when it is a penis?We wouldn't walk around talking about little vaginas in the ways we talk about little penises (I googled the plural form). I can't talk about little bodies anymore. It's too much.

Why does this matter?

This heightened attention to his sexuality could lead to hypersexual behavior in the same way that being exposed to the exploitation of his own body for his family's pleasure could lead to hyperaggressive behavior. He just turned 6. He's been dealing with it his whole life. It ain't nothin' new to him. It is normal. That is scary.

If people are going crazy about his body parts, he will learn they are super important and that people, especially women, give him attention because of them. He will expect attention and when he doesn't get it, something will be wrong in his mind and he will try to attract attention to his body parts.

It is likely that he will force himself onto people unless someone does the work to unpack these foundational experiences with him so that he can contextualize the craziness. So let me go do that...