In the Footsteps of the ProphetPosted: June 11, 2015
Why do we shame our soft boys and our quiet ones?
The boys who stand with their mothers in kitchens instead of sitting with their fathers in front of the TV.
The ones who are gentle with their love and their hands. The ones who don’t care to throw a ball, or play swords with sticks. The boys who prefer to read, or chat, or none of the above.
The ones who can say “I feel” without cowering beneath the disapproving glare of masculinity.
Why do we yell, “Be a man!” at children who are barely out of diapers, forcing tears back into their eyes by telling them not to be babies, not to be little girls, not to be soft.
What are we afraid of when we ask a four-year-old if he has a girlfriend and he says “No” very definitively.
Why do we ask him again if he’s sure?
“Well, who do you think is pretty?”
“I bet that little girl who sits next to you is your girlfriend.”
Why do we hold our breath when we see him holding a doll? Does he not have the potential to one day be a father?
What are we saying when we tease, “You run like a girl, you throw like a girl, you punch like a girl, you look like a girl,” or police the work they enjoy:
“The kitchen is for the women, cleaning is for the women, minding the children is for the women, serving is for the women. Sit here with the men, stop trying to be a woman!”
As if men don’t need to eat, or live in a clean environment, as if they aren’t half of every person ever made, as if it’s unfathomable to serve instead of being served.
We lie to them when we say these things, making them think that their mothers, their sisters, their aunties are weak, making them think that the work we do is unbecoming of a man, making them think it is lowly and beneath them.
We should say: work hard like your mother, who bore you out of her own body while you leeched life away from her. See how she never quits, how resilient she is? I hope you can be as strong as her one day.
And your sister – see how smart she is, how well she does in school, how dedicated to success she is.
And your auntie – she lived her entire life with a man who wasn’t kind, and she outlived him. See how her faith was rewarded. Pray that one day you can work that hard and still remain as kind and as light.
Why do we shame our boys by using epithets that damage their perception of women? Making it disgusting for them to be light rain and not destructive storm.
Why do we let our sons watch our daughters tend to them? Ask their younger sisters to clean quietly while the boys watch their Saturday morning cartoons.
Why do we expect them to be destructive, to be reckless, to hurt when the man who was the best of examples was none of these things?
We tell our sons to be like the Prophet (pbuh) but we never expect them to strive for the same softness, the same kindness, the same gentle nature. We tell them about Uhud, but not that he washed and mended his own clothes, served his own food, milked his own animal.
We don’t say that he sat with women and joked with them and spoke to them with respect. Instead of teaching Prophetic kindness, we shame our soft boys and glorify destructive behaviour by saying boys will be boys.
And then we ask why our sons hate women, when their entire lives we teach them to.
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Key Ballah is a Toronto-based writer and Hip Hop enthusiast. She is the author of the poetry collection, ‘Preparing My Daughter For Rain‘, she melts faith, love and her experiences of being a woman of colour navigating the western world in her writing. She believes in empowering the brown girl to reclaim her selves and her body, by connecting and healing collectively, over borders, oceans and time zones, through story telling and poetry. She is currently working on a new project due out this fall.