My children are the best reflection of me.
This week each one of my children has made me proud. One started a new job that they had to fight for, one asked for help when they needed it despite her SEN making that almost impossible at times and one protected someone else when he could have just walked away. I could talk about each one and I may do but today I want to speak about the last one I just mentioned.
The one who just texted “You might be proud of me Mum”.
A text like that would make any parent stop in their tracks I would imagine. It did me. Because I never look for a reason for my kids to make me proud. Just them getting through the day and being happy at the end is enough for me. But as I said, 3 separate occasions this week I have gone…OK… I think I may have done something right as a parent.
Anyway…. the text was from one of my sons.
He works within a government building and since starting he has been trying to navigate a social field he has never experienced before. Rules and protocols he has never experienced. He is not there to play games. My son is going to make changes in this world, just know that. But for now, he is finding his feet within an environment that will eventually give him the platform to make the change.
My sons have always been aware of violence against women and girls. More than I would want them to. They have seen and heard this. They know what it looks like. They know how they need to behave to make women and girls feel safe and they know that their actions have consequences.
I wish that all men were raised with these core values. The world would be a safer place.
Today my son reported a man who was making a woman feel uncomfortable in the workplace. Touching her without consent.
Now my son clocked this a few weeks ago. He called me and said that something was happening at work that made him feel uncomfortable. He told me what he had seen and the reaction of the women. We spoke about what his actions could be in terms of stopping this behaviour.
So, the next day he spoke to the women and said she should report it. She was hesitant. It’s a mainly male environment and I would imagine (from experience) that she may have been worried that they would try and play it down or she would not be believed. So, she took my sons advice on bored but kind of implied that she would just have to get on with it.
A few days later my son called to say that he had seen the man making the women uncomfortable and so he had physically gone and stood between them. My son ensured me that, without being unprofessional, he made the man know that he was not happy with his behaviour.
And then a few days later, my son saw the man heading for the women and so he become more blatant. He stepped in and said he would help the man. And when the man indicated he wanted to interact with the women, my son just diverted and made the man know that this was not going to happen and that when ever the man needed help with…My son would be doing that.
You see, my son, like many men, struggle with the concept that other men think they can do what they want in terms of imposing themselves on women.
My son has memories of men cat calling me when he was incredibly young. Men shouting out sexual things to m as we would walk to the park. Most of the time I would just hold my head high and ignore them. Start talking to my sons as if we had heard nothing, they were young, so I actually didn’t think they really understood. My sons have seen the imbalance of power that can take place between a man and a woman. They have seen that women who are abused by men have very little legal support. My sons have seen a lot in terms of violence against women and girls.
And if I want to be very honest. The kind of honest that makes my cheeks burn…they have seen first-hand way too much of the above subject. And that is something I will always carry.
I worried for a long time if I raised the boys with enough core values that they would do the one thing I have always trued to drum into them…. Never do nothing, always do something.
And so, my son texted to say he might have made me proud. He said that the man continued to bother this woman. And so, he made a formal complaint and now it will be addressed at highest level. He did this because when he spoke to the women again, she said she wanted to complain, but did not feel confident to do so.
So, he stepped up.
He done what millions of men should do. He called out another man.
I know my son. He would have had a thousand throughs rushing through him as he made his way to the manager’s office. He would have been torn between just going to the man and telling him about himself or going to management and maybe making it worse for the girl. His anxiety would have been kicking in for sure.
And now the woman knows that she is believed and that f it happens again she can just go to the manger and she will be believed.
My son just changed the flavour in his workplace. He will make no secret that it was he that spoke out…. that’s not how we do things. He has made others know that sexual harassment in the workplace is not acceptable and that it will be called out by other men (and women if they display the same behaviours). My son has shown the rest of the team who he really is and where he has come from…without ever having to say so.
My son made a woman feel safe today. And she will come to work knowing that she no longer has to “Put up with it”.
And she will tell others. And they will all know that they don’t have to “put up with it”.
My son has made a man accountable for his actions today, my son has made it, so a man has been told that his actions are not acceptable. That his actions now have consequences for him.
My son has just sent a message out to the other men in the workplace who may be the same way inclined. A message that this will not continue. Not around him.
I texted my son back and said he made me enormously proud.
I said I wished that someone like him had been about for me when I was younger. To speak up for me. To tell other men that it’s not OK.
It’s been a bad few day. The weight has been heavy on my shoulders.
But…my children have made me very proud to be a mother this week.
My children are, by far, the best reflection of me.