Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Rules for My Unborn Son - How (not) to Teach Masculinity

There is a new book coming out called "Rules for My Unborn Son." It was sent to BoingBoing's Mark Frauenfelder, who responded, "Lamond's rules are good advice for sons, as well as anyone else, really." Hmmm, well yes, advice based on general etiquette is usually good for all people.

The book is based on the blog "1001 Rules for my Unborn Son," and is just one more attempt to shore up the author's own masculinity while making sure his kid also adheres to his version of what it is to be man. Nevermind that his kid might be gay, or trans, or born a girl.

Moreover, this poor kid is going to have to memorize 1,001 rules to be the right kind of man his dad want's him to be?!? I feel sorry for the kid. But, I also feel bad for the guy who wrote this, since he too feels his identity is based on a masculinity that can be broken down into a set of stringent rules - and on his youth and cool factor.

Lets move on to the advice, that Mark characterizes as "specific tips for living a life of kindness, politeness, and preparedness," shall we? Yes there are some nice general tips for, oh...I don't know not being an asshole, like thanking your bus driver. But, then we get into the "men must be strong and fight" ones: "Aim for the nose," "A man's luggage doesn't roll." Oh right, because being a man means unnecessarily lugging a duffel bag, causing your shoulder and back to be sore for the rest of trip and your clothes to be wrinkled, instead of using a convenient roller? Tell that to pilots (who of course are all manly men, unlike the flight attendants who are all ladies or pansies).

But, here is the real winner:
"Remember, the girl you're with is somebody's sister. And she's perfectly capable of kicking your ass."
While it's nice to know he thinks women are as physically capable as the Paul Bunyan/Don Draper prototype he has raised, there is a whole heap of crap wrong with this:
1. The girl you are dating is only of value because she is defined by her relationship to a man (we assume the threat is from her unidentified brother, and not her sister).

2. You will only ever date young women, god forbid she have other relationships, like oh...being someone's mother.

3. The author feels that he has to put in a very specific rule that breaks down to simply "DON'T BE A RAPIST" or any form of abuser, but really, this rule is all about not committing date rape.
I can only hope that when I have a son I will have taught him about respecting all people and provided him with the tools to create his own healthy sexuality, so that I don't have to remind him to not beat or rape his dates - whoever they may be.

Image via 1001 Rules for My Unborn Son blog.


  1. "Your best chance of being a rockstar is learning the bass." should either say "Your best chance of being a rockstar is learning the drums, but don't expect anyone to recognize you." or "Your best chance of being a rockstar is shut the fuck up and stay in school, kid!"

  2. Children are taught/learn right from wrong. Just like you have to tell a kid's drugs are bad for you and if you try them you may get addicted and ruin your life and the lives of others, you HAVE to tell and remind your son that no means no, not to rape a girl, to intervene in the safest way possible if he realizes a rape is being committed, etc. You seem more presumed with not liking the author then objectively dissecting his "rule."

    You can view my piece in such an issue at: http://www.jzybelle.blogspot.com


be nice.


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