Hi Damon: My 26-year-old son works for an influencer who boasts about his rich life and functions as a life coach, but has horrible conservative views about women. My son is quiet but must be a fan. He dropped out of college with good grades to do this. My question is how do you fight misogyny among young men? What do we say? What if this was your child?
— Shocked Mom
Shocked Mom: The first part of any effort to combat your biases is to admit that you have them. Which is why, before I continue, I must admit that I’m biased against influencers. I’m aware that influencing is a (sigh) real job, and that some even make real money. I just don’t get how. It’s the same confusion I have when watching one of those home-buying shows on HGTV, where the husband is a competitive napper and the wife does yoga for frogs, but they somehow have a 5.3-million-dollar budget.
Have a question for Damon? Submit it here or email email@example.com.
Anyway, you’re in a tough spot. If your son was 10 years younger and still living under your roof, you’d be in a position of greater influence. Not the greatest influence, but at least you’d still have daily opportunities to combat whatever problematic views he learned from his peers and the internet.
Now, though, I think your best option is to proactively challenge him. When you have opportunities to talk to him, ask your son what exactly he finds attractive about this influencer. If it’s just the lifestyle, ask him if making some money and gaining some Instagram followers is worth the stench of this association. If it’s the misogyny, ask him why. What exactly does he agree with? When did it become attractive to him? Make him give you details, dates.
Ask Damon: My cousin uses the r-word even after I asked her to stop
This barrage of questions might seem obnoxious, but the logical and emotional gibberish that exists at the core of bigotry is exposed with, well, exposure. The more he’s forced to actually think about it, hopefully the more he recognizes the fallacious nature of it.
This will not be easy. The idea that women have less value than men is embedded in American culture; a pervasive axiom reinforced everywhere from our churches to our courthouses. Men who’ve had great success not just despite their misogyny, but because of it, are legion. How do you convince a young man to reject it, when a presidential candidate is caught on tape bragging about grabbing women, and becomes more popular?
You will need all of the reinforcements you can get, and I suggest that you read books such as “Heavy” by Kiese Laymon, and “No Ashes In The Fire” by Darnell Moore — both of which articulate the damage that patriarchy and misogyny does to young men — so that you have sufficient ammunition. Good luck.
Ask Sahaj: Can my ex and I stay roommates?
Meghan Leahy: An introverted mom struggles to deal with her kids’ nonstop chatter
Ask Amy: Inherited family ring causes big stink
Miss Manners: Questions about sex can be met with bewildered surprise
Carolyn Hax: She got married, but her bank account remains single