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5uptown

Parenting Young men with Recent news from NYCB

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5uptown

I have to admit that in preparation for the new school year starting, I have emphasized to my young teenage son that he really needs to be aware of the rules at his ballet school and scrupulous about following them. I think he should assume there will be more scrutiny going forward. I have also, of course, discussed the broader issues. I believe I am raising a son who is respectful of girls and women as human being, thoughtful about consent, aware of his responsibility not be be a bystander, and thinks about how the structures of misogyny might even be internalized. But coming of age in the midst of the "me too" movement, from a practical standpoint, I think that he needs to be very careful to ensure that his behavior is above reproach.

 

A very wise fellow parent also said its important for us to tell our kids-- "you will make mistakes" and that adults make mistakes too. We want them to know they can come to us or other adults if they do make errors, and figure out how to make amends when that happens. With social media, it does seem like there is so much potential for mistakes to be magnified.

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Thyme

yes I agree with your thoughts 5uptown. At the risk of being misinterpreted, this is a complex/challenging time to be a good man. As in, it is a more complex gender world out there than when I/we were young.

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Momof3darlings

At the risk of coming across in a way unintended, I will share a situation we, as a family, we had to deal with stalking of one daughter after a breakup.  Not DD but one of my others.  Luckily, I had a relationship with the young man, his parents and was able to have some one on one conversations with him.  His mother was on board even though she never really felt it was all his fault.  In my conversations with him, the only things that seemed to really get through to him was to equate situations to his behavior and if someone did that to a sister or his mother.  What would he do if the things he was doing were being done to them.  This seemed to wake him up a bit and make him both listen and understand that maybe his behaviors had crossed the line.  In the end, we did have to seek legal action and his parents moved him across the country.  But I am wondering if this might be a way to explain some of this to your sons in terms of what their line in the sand needs to be not only for themselves, but also should they see something like this in the studio.  

So not sure if any of you also have daughters or close cousins to your young men.  But sometimes bringing up that they are not to treat any female differently than they would expect someone else to treat their sister, mother or even best girl friend (not girlfriend).  May be where some of the issues can be discussed.  

(and yes, the same works with females.  The conversations had with my college daughter about this were explicit as well about the type of behavior that was acceptable even after a breakup. )

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5uptown

My son does have younger sisters, and I do think that may help him to see that girls are people. I think having meaningful relationships with a variety of people probably is helpful in a general way for humanizing people you see as different. I am also thankful that he has been surrounded by some very confident and outspoken female peers in school. 

On the other hand, I find myself resistant to using the argument of 'what if it was your sister' as the primary way to frame it for him. Maybe because I want to think he would treat people he does NOT think of as part of his "in group" or "family" with the same respect as those he does. Perhaps because I am uncomfortable with the suggestion that girls need to be "protected" by their male relatives or somehow that he could understand the distress of a brother but not of the girl herself-- which I also realize is not actually what you, Momof3darlings, or others, are actually saying. Also, I felt like I had to explain that the "golden rule" doesn't always work (treat others as you would like to be treated... what if someone else wants something different than you do?) I guess it is one of the challenges here, is how to navigate when there are unclear, or conflicting, sets of rules and norms. But yes, absolutely, as the mother of a boy I deeply hope that he is growing up with a mindset that does not objectify women. And that when he encounters that from other men (or from women), he will see it for what it is, and not find it funny or somehow persuasive. 

With regards to the most recent situation I think I have probably talked about it with him so much that its time to move on before he gets thoroughly sick of the topic... but I really want for him the take-home from this particular situation to be that if you witness this kind of thing happening, its very important to figure out to whom to report it. Even if you don't participate actively, ignoring abuse of other people is not ok. 

To be clear I have no sense that my son has ever been disrespectful of any girls  (or boys)! He has barely expressed any interest. Actually he is so focused on ballet that he has so far seemed uninterested in what he calls the "drama" of dating. Actually he has asked me to advise him several times on how to politely decline girls asking him out... These are situations I think about him possibly encountering as he gets older.  

 

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Momof3darlings

I think this is where you use teachable moments that come up.  The bringing up of sister is only because of the thread this is in that is focused on young men.  If it was on a general forum, I would say the same to a sister about her brother or other sister, etc.  I also don't see it in terms of protection but rather respect.    If you respect another human being, the protection factor will almost come automatically.  

Mirroring situations and behaviors tends to reach much further than any conversation ever does.  Just as finding situations that can be related to versus those not in the realm of one's own reality.   

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dancemaven

Gentle reminder:  This particular thread is in one of our restrictive forums, reserved for Parents of [dancing] Boys only

We have a couple other companion threads that all members may participate in. 🙂

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nynydancer

This whole business is really sad.  I had my boy read the article (yech he is only 15) and told him if someone sends him ANYTHING inappropriate about another dancer, he should tell one of the teachers and me.   I promised to help him decide if it needs to be raised to the teacher, and he agrees he will say something to anyone who is acting disrespectful.  I know he is comfortable with telling a peer to stop something, but telling  a teacher is harder.  Just receiving such a text can land these boys in hot water.  He also knows if he ever did anything like this himself.... boy would there be hell to pay.

5Uptown, agree with you have having younger sisters does help with the context!  DS's little sister is with him this year at residential and he would be horrified if anyone was inappropriate with her (I did not send her the article FWIW).  

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librarygirl
On 9/12/2018 at 10:53 AM, Thyme said:

At the risk of being misinterpreted, this is a complex/challenging time to be a good man.

Absolutely! My DS now is a freshman in a college music theater program - still taking ballet, but obviously branching out, too! When he switched to a Balanchine studio several years ago, he loved it so much. So NYCB is obviously on his radar. We briefly talked about this situation - and I told him, "You are one of the good guys! Find others like you!" But also, be aware of what is going on, stick up for those who need it, speak out when something is not right. It's just so much, though - such intense competition, conflicting stereotypes, assumptions, hard work, insanely long hours, physical and mental demands...  But I am confident that he IS a good guy, and I am also certain that there are many more like him (everywhere, but particularly in dance and theater). 

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mln

Hi, all,

I just found Barry Karollis's recent podcast on the topic of "Toxic Masculinity in Dance."  He recorded in mid-September.  it in response to the NYCB suit, but he used it to address a general problem rather than to critique any specific company, and that's why I think it might be especially pertinent to our discussion here.  I know that I can't link to it here, but the link was posted by a moderator on the sister site, Ballet Alert, and I'm hoping you won't have trouble finding it.  It is part of his Pas de Chat series on Premier Dance Network.   

It's a 40 minute commitment, but I think you might find listening to his discussion very illuminating.  Karollis used mostly personal experience in studios, at summer intensives, and as a new member in a company, and he discussed problems male dancers face in a thoughtful and real way.  He is able to articulate first hand something I have also been observing and worrying about---that the social prejudices that male dancers face can lead to a defensiveness that isn't always positive.  I think he understands that the prejudices have to change!  But he is also encouraging more conversation about how to recognize and maybe discourage a kind of masculinity that is defensive.  He believes that there can be a positive masculinity in dance.

I don't want to say that he had a lot of answers--but he really defined for me what I'd like to teach my son to recognize and avoid.

I'd love to know what others think.

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