The NY Times recently published an article called “How To Raise A Feminist Son.”
Now, as a disclaimer, I couldn’t make it through the whole thing. I got too annoyed after about five points, but I figured there needed to be a response to at least some of this dribble.
The article begins:
We’re now more likely to tell our daughters they can be anything they want to be — an astronaut and a mother, a tomboy and a girlie girl. But we don’t do the same for our sons.
Wait, we don’t tell kids to follow our dreams, regardless of their gender? When did we stop? That doesn’t sound like equality to me.
Even as we’ve given girls more choices for the roles they play, boys’ worlds are still confined, social scientists say. They’re discouraged from having interests that are considered feminine. They’re told to be tough at all costs, or else to tamp down their so-called boy energy.
Well, yeah, that’s just natural. If a guy wants to go into painting or something, his friends might give him some shit, but we’d probably ultimately support him. It’s just banter.
If we want to create an equitable society, one in which everyone can thrive, we need to also give boys more choices. As Gloria Steinem says, “I’m glad we’ve begun to raise our daughters more like our sons, but it will never work until we raise our sons more like our daughters.”
No, no, no, NO! Raise kids to be kids, and let them figure out if they wanna cross over to a field that people see as more for the other gender if they want. Why are we looking to emasculate boys or butch up girls?
Give him role models:
Boys are particularly responsive to spending time with role models, even more than girls, research shows. There is growing evidence that boys raised in households without a father figure fare worse in behavior, academics and earnings. One reason, according to the economists David Autor and Melanie Wasserman, is they do not see men taking on life’s responsibilities. “Put good men in the space of your son,” Mr. Porter said.
Give them strong female role models, too. Talk about the achievements of women you know, and well-known women in sports, politics or media. Sons of single mothers usually have a lot of respect for their accomplishments, said Tim King, founder of Urban Prep Academies for low-income, African-American boys. He encourages them to see other women that way.
Ok, this part is mostly fine. Role models are important, but we just need to make sure that we’re modeling people because of what they’ve done, not because of what gender they are. For example, the short-lived yet popular TV series “Firefly” has badasses of both genders, but it’s not like they’re trying to beat you over the head with the fact that they’re women.
That being said, I’d be a little wary of the role models this author would choose.
Offer open-ended activities, like playing with blocks or clay, and encourage boys to try activities like dress-up or art class, even if they don’t seek them out, social scientists say. Call out stereotypes. (“It’s too bad that toy box shows all girls because I know boys also like to play with dollhouses.”) It could also improve the status of women. Researchers say the reason parents encourage daughters to play soccer or become doctors, but not sons to take ballet or become nurses, is that “feminine” equals lower status.
You’re essentially pushing kids towards that at that point. If Billy really wants to play with something people consider is “girly” completely of his own volition, that’s one thing, but dangling dolls in front of his face and pressuring them to play with it is just you pushing your own agenda on a kid who just wants to play.
Teach him to take care of himself:
“Teach our sons to cook, clean and look after themselves — to be equally competent in the home as we would expect our daughters to be in the office,” said Anne-Marie Slaughter, chief executive of New America, a think tank.
Ok, I’m perfectly fine with the first half of that, but that should be everyone. I can outcook basically every girl I’ve ever met, but that’s because my mother noticed at a young age that I enjoyed cooking, and encouraged me to follow my passions.
BUT, we should be teaching everyone that important life skill, not just boys so we can put more girls in the work world.
Again, I didn’t go through the whole thing because you probably would have gotten just as annoyed with this article as I did. If you really want to read it, you can check out the link at the bottom.
The overlying point I want to make that will sum up my response is this:
Let kids, no matter their gender, find their own passions. If they don’t line up with what you want, tough, it’s not about you. Our sons, and daughters, should be free to do what they want without you, or anyone else, trying to push their PC agenda on them.