Gawker is publishing some really good writing at the moment. Here’s a great piece, “Slanted American Tradition: Broken Children and Unbroken Barriers” from Rosa Cabrera about raising a son and her reflections upon violence in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings (the quote below describes a minor sexual assault):
Two months before giving birth to my son, I walk the four blocks from the train station to see my mother. A boy catches my eye. That looming look in his eyes has something in it that should not belong to a young boy. He begins walking my direction. I hold the heavy door open for him to walk into the apartment building standing on the Concourse of Hip-Hop’s crowded womb.
I hit the elevator button. I notice the baby flesh he still hasn’t lost in the back of his brown hands as they grip a bag of groceries. He asks me questions about the child my body has been carrying for seven months. There’s a quiet fascination, and a strange nervousness in him that I’m embarrassed to fear. I walk into the elevator with him, hating myself for thinking about the knife I forgot at home. The door slides to a close, and a hand quickly reaches for my shirt to expose my swelling breasts. I knock his hand away.
His face never shifts.
He’s done this before, at least once. The space in the elevator squeezes us closer together. I want to hurt him, but I realize this is a child who could hurt the boy still growing inside me. I ask him what the hell is wrong with him.
I look at the mix of teenage boys and middle-aged men marking the corners with bodies that rock with a tilt. Their faces carry the same stone as the boy in the elevator. The Concourse turf is womanless. I want to not feel so far away. I look down at my swelling womb and wonder what it must feel like to have a son standing among those slanting male bodies.
I relate to that experience she describes there in the second quote, of suddenly looking at men and older boys around me and wondering if this is who my son would become. I remember starting to see these boys and men as boy babies grown up, rather than as male people. It made me see men in a new light – they were now possibilities for who my baby could become, a baby I had grown inside my body. It was a new way of interacting with masculinity with all its good and bad manifestations.