Tuesday, February 5, 2013

20 Things a Mother Should Tell Her Son... in the 1950s

So there is this copypasta going around of Facebook that is driving me bonkers. It's this list of twenty things that mothers should say to their sons. Uh oh. Gender is in the title, so you know to expect some outdated garbage. Let's explore this, shall we?


1. Play a sport.

It will teach you how to win honorably,
lose gracefully, respect authority,work with others, manage your time
and stay out of trouble.
And maybe even throw or catch.

Playing sports is a great way to learn these skills. What makes me uncomfortable here is the fact that a mother is supposed to push sports to her son specifically, not her children in general. It enforces the idea that men play sports, as well as enforces the idea that a mother can't teach these ideals by herself.

2. You will set the tone

for the sexual relationship,
so don't take something away from her
that you can't give back.
This is absolutely horrible. Instead of teaching your son to treat his sexual partner as his equal, you are to teach him that 1) he is to date women and 2) he is to be in control of her.

3. Use careful aim when you pee.

Somebody's got to clean that up, you know.

A better lesson: Share bathroom cleaning duties with whomever you live with.

4. Save money when you're young
because you're going to need it someday.

Better advice: Always try to spend within your limits. When you splurge, be aware of the consequences.

5. Allow me to introduce you
to the dishwasher, oven,
washing machine, iron,
vacuum, mop and broom.
Now please go use them.
Hahahahahaha! That's women all right. Always cooking and cleaning. It's a good thing men never do those things...

6. Pray and be a spiritual leader.

Why should your child spread religion? A better lesson: Find your own path in life. Seek your own truth.

7. Don't ever be a bully

and don't ever start a fight,
but if some idiot clocks you,
please defend yourself.

...within legal limits.

8. Your knowledge and education is something

that nobody can take away from you.

That's not true at all. People get tricked into believing and disbelieving all kinds of stuff. A better lesson: Question fantastical claims.

9. Treat women kindly.

Forever is a long time to live alone
and it's even longer to live with somebody
who hates your guts.

Yes, men should treat women well. That said, why assume your son is attracted to women? Beyond that, why assume your son would marry somebody who hates him?

10. Take pride in your appearance.


11. Be strong and tender at the same time.

This is a contradiction that isn't. One can be both strong and sensitive, and it isn't hard to do.

12. A woman can do everything that you can do.

This includes her having a successful career
and you changing diapers at 3 A.M.
Mutual respect is the key to a good relationship.
Leave it at the first line, and you got something. Unfortunately, the author kept writing, leaving behind more heterosexism.

13. "Yes ma'am" and "yes sir"

still go a long way.

Some people don't like to be called these words. Better advice: Know your audience--use the correct language with the right people.

14. The reason that they're called "private parts"

is because they're "private".
Please do not scratch them in public.

Is this really that important? Let's broaden it up to make it have some meaning people can actually live by: Know your audience--act in a way that will allow you to maintain your integrity in public.

15. Peer pressure is a scary thing.

Be a good leader and others will follow.

There's nothing quite like an opening sentence that has no bearing on the ones that follow. Raw chicken will kill you. Swiss cheese is a great topping on a chicken sandwich.

16. Bringing her flowers for no reason

is always a good idea.

No it isn't. Bringing your partner flowers because you love them is a good idea. Also, why assume your son likes women?

17. It is better to be kind

than to be right.

Context is key. For example, if somebody is spreading homophobia, it's far better to speak up and be right than it is to be kind.

18. A sense of humor

goes a long way
in the healing process.

Ha ha, cancer!

19. Please choose your spouse wisely.

My daughter-in-law will be the gatekeeper for me
spending time with you and my grandchildren.

Leave it at the first sentence, and it's fine. Toss in the rest, and it becomes more heterosexist drivel that implies that the children are property that belong to the man, and that evil women will keep mothers from seeing their son's property.

20. Remember to call your mother

because I might be missing you.

Why don't you call your son?

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