1 in 3 women will be raped or suffer serious sexual assault during their lives, and virtually all of the people doing this are men. A much smaller proportion of men also suffer sexual assault and rape, and again the large majority of the offenders are men.
I don't for a second think that men are bad, or evil, or genetically pre-disposed to sexual violence, or anything like that. Some of them probably are, but then so are some women. Obviously (!) not all boys commit these crimes but if 1 in 3 women are assaulted, that's a LOT of men whose attitudes are leading them seriously astray. And if they aren't pre-disposed to violence, we (society as a whole) must be doing something wrong in terms of how we are raising these boys and how their attitudes to sex are being formed.
This problem isn't going away at the moment, which means that the 'traditional' ways of educating about sex are clearly not working. Which means that I, as a parent of a boy, am responsible for doing something different.
So what will I do differently? I will teach Leo about sex early on. Puberty is way too late; his attitudes to women and girls will be largely fixed by then. Also talking to a 3 year old about sex is dramatically less embarrassing to everyone than talking to a 13 year old! So he will grow up knowing the mechanics, but more importantly than that I will teach him about consent, and how dangerous it is to assume consent. I will teach him to ASK, and to know that anything less than an enthusiastic YES should be taken as a NO. I will teach him to think about his attitudes to himself as well, and his self respect and self esteem, and I'll have him think about living with himself if he puts his own needs over the person he wants to sleep with.
Part of my loathing of the pink / blue divide comes into this too. Boys shouldn't be learning from the toddler years that girls are different, separate, and somehow other. That seems to me to be so dangerous. He needs to learn that people are people, and that everyone owns their own bodies, and that everyone is deserving of equal respect. And again this is partly why I dress him in pink sometimes.
I don't expect there's anything particularly new about this. But I find it useful sometimes to write out how I feel about things.