When I heard we were going to have a story on a man in Superior arrested for choking a 14-year-old boy with a phone cord because he was in his daughter’s room, I pondered if we should turn off the Facebook comments. I knew what was about to come, and it wasn’t going to be any good.
The story was posted and the comments immediately started pouring in from social media, and it was just as I imagined. A lot of dudes who think it’s hilarious to hold a rifle when their daughter gets picked up to go to prom rode in to defend the suspect, saying they would have done the same thing and wanting to know how to help pay for the man’s defense. Why should he be arrested for being a good father? Arrest the kid instead!
Just because the comments were as predictable as the summer heat didn’t make them any less troubling. To have a mob rise up to cheer a grown man for assaulting a 14-year-old boy should make everyone alarmed. I’m told I only think this because I’m not a parent, but I’d like to think that if I was, I still wouldn’t condone choking children. Maybe I’m naive though.
I was pleasantly surprised I was not alone. Plenty of readers had enough sense to call out the rest for cheering on a man whose accusations in any other situation would be called monstrous. Imagine if that was your son, they pointed out, and how you would feel if a man could have very well killed him?
Those concerns fell on deaf ears, though. The people cheering on the suspect don’t think about sons the same way they think about daughters. Their minds are stuck in a patriarchal worldview where girls are precious princesses who need to be protected from corrupting influences, while boys are inherently manipulative and an evil constant in the girls’ lives.
The worst part of that worldview is that in every case except with their own daughters, such behavior from boys is applauded by greater society, not feared. Be an alpha male, take what you want and don’t back down. Except around my daughter. Then you better not so much as breathe. It raises the question of whether men project these qualities onto teenage boys because they know they exist in themselves.
The idea of manipulative boys also helps shape the narrative fathers form in their own mind about their daughters. Their pure princess wouldn’t in her right mind do anything intimate with a boy unless she had been tricked, or worse. I want to be clear that there is no shortage of cases where this in fact happens, but so far in the Superior case nothing has come out to suggest that the boy was in the girl’s room without her consent.
So once a man has established that his daughter would only be in a bedroom with a manipulator, when he walks into a room with both of them in it without his knowledge, that could explain why he immediately resorts to an amount of force that — if done on the wrong person — could actually be deadly.
Again presuming the encounter was consensual, the boy obviously should have been kicked out of the house, maybe with light force if necessary. But to wrap a cord around the boy’s neck shows something is wrong in the man’s head. To call it good parenting is not only wrong, but dangerous.
I might not be in a position to be giving out parenting advice, but maybe start with viewing your daughter as her own human being with her own wants instead of a fragile ceramic pot. You might just have a more honest relationship if you just show enough respect for the agency she has in her own life. And if you think boys are just out to get your daughter, maybe stop raising your sons to be that way.
I hope something like this never happens again. But if it does, maybe don’t cheer on the grown man with the cord allegedly around the boy’s neck. Maybe then a cycle can be broken.
County Editor Joey Chenoweth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.