He Doesn't Get Points for That

Author name
Sheila Broderick, LCSW

“He doesn’t get points for that.”  It’s one of the most common “sheilaisms” you will hear in my office.   We quite simply live in a culture that literally awards boys points for merely NOT walking into a room and punching a woman in the face or raping her or telling her to go make him a sandwich.  How often do we get annoyed with young mothers in grocery stores for their loud children and how often when it’s a dad struggling, do we offer help or at the very least think to ourselves “oh look at that great dad babysitting his children?”  Imagine thinking a mom is babysitting her children.

Speaking of her boyfriend, she tells me “Sheila, he’s such a great guy.”  When asked for data to support this conclusion, she tells me this story.  “The other night we were ‘hooking up’ (again, can we please stop using that phrase?).  We were just about to ‘do it’ (vaginal intercourse - side note, we shame young women so much for their sexual decisions that even the brightest and most liberated cannot use the words.)  But back to my story….

“We were just about to “do it” and I got scared and said, stop, no wait, stop.”  And guess what?? He stopped!  And if that wasn’t enough to earn him the “good guy of the year award,” he was not mad at her, not sulking, not angry.

“Honey,” I said, “I’m glad you have made the decision to date a decent human being, but hear me say this – he doesn’t get points for that.”

Silence, staring blankly at me, integration of what was just said.   I continue….

“Do you understand?  I’m not trying to be mean.  I am so proud of you for verbalizing what you needed in that moment. It’s very brave.  But he does not get points for that.”  “Yes,” she says smiling, nodding, “yes, Sheila, I see what you mean.”  Then I pull out my sense of humor and thicken my southern drawl to drive home the absurdity of the point.  “In ahl mah vaaast sexual experience, not once, in mah 28 yeeers of having sex have I evah done anythang different than your boyfriend when one of my sweethearts asked me to stop doing whut I wuz doing sexually.  And yet not one of them has evah said ‘wow, Sheila, you are a such a good guy for stopping doing that thing to me that I asked you to stop doing.”

What are we doing to young women that they are GRATEFUL when a guy respects their bodily integrity?  What next?  I am reminded of Oliver Twist, given voice by Charles Dickens, bravely saying to the Master, all fat and healthy,  “Please sir, I want some more.”  Yes, indeed, more.  And not just tasteless, sticky, uninspiring gruel, either.  I want some more time, space, bodily integrity, respect, humanity.  I want it all.  Here’s to the sassy girls in our lives who demand it.