No, New York Times, I Will Not Be Raising My Boy to Be a Feminist
No, New York Times, I Will Not Be Raising My Boy to Be a Feminist
Alas, what we all have been waiting for. Because some parents don’t micromanage their children enough, The New York Times has added more to this mix by offering up advice on how to raise our sons to be-get this- feminists.
Claire Cain Miller quotes a famous Gloria Steinem gem, “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, ” and enters into a 12-step program on how to do this:
1. Let him cry.
2. Give him role models.
3. Let him be himself.
4. Teach him to take care of himself.
5. Teach him to take care of others.
6. Share the work.
7. Encourage friendships with girls.
8. Teach “no” means “no”.
9. Speak up when others are intolerant.
10. Never use ‘girl’ as an insult.
11. Read a lot, including about girls and women.
12. Celebrate boyhood.
While these twelve steps seem to be realistic by themselves and steps that my husband and I do try and follow in raising a boy to become a great man, a gentleman if you will, The New York Times can’t leave it at that and has to throw an agenda into this mix:
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.”)
Organize coed birthday parties and sports teams for young children, so children don’t come to believe it’s acceptable to exclude a group on the basis of sex, said Christia Brown, a developmental psychologist at the University of Kentucky. Try not to differentiate in language, either: One study found that when preschool teachers said “boys and girls” instead of “children,” the students held more stereotypical beliefs about men’s and women’s roles and spent less time playing with one another.
Boys who have friendships with girls are also less likely to think of women as sexual conquests.
The author cites that men are “falling behind in school and work because we are not raising boys to succeed in the new, pink economy. Skills like cooperation, empathy and diligence — often considered to be feminine — are increasingly valued in modern-day work and school, and jobs that require these skills are the fastest-growing.” This is their impetus for raising a young man to be a “feminist”. The same young man who falls behind in work and school because he is expected to sit still, be well-mannered and less abrasive. The young man who is bursting with energy and gets his recess, his only time to run free in a 6-hour day, taken away because he could not “sit on his pockets” for circle time. This is the young man who gets his Legos taken away and told to play with dolls during free choice when all he wants to do is work with his buddy on their “empire”.
As a parent of a preteen, I understand the importance of teaching a young man to respect and honor women. If these young men are falling behind in school and work, perhaps it’s because our society, despite its desire for bridging the gap defines the economy as either “pink” or “blue” and they are trying to put boys who are inherently male into a box in which they do not fit. If we’re attempting to train up our sons to be respectful of women, to not look at women as sex objects and to treat girls “like just one of the guys”, what gives? We have these so-called “feminists” of our time throwing their bodies around, talking about their body parts and indiscriminate sex without consequences in comedic routines and demoralizing men in the name of feminism but in the same breath, we are supposed to train our sons to be respectful?!
I shudder at the thought if my son were to become a “feminist”. Mothers of young men all over the place, just think of it. Think of what kind of men our boys would be if they were “feminists” by our definition of a “feminist” in 2017. Our world would be so much better if we can encourage our boys to dress in high-heels and play with dolls at playgroup and punish them for picking up that toy car, that Lego or (gasp), the toy water gun, right? How sexist of them! Our good boy “feminists” will sit quietly in class and never cut up or get up out of their seats. The “pink” economy frowns upon this and our boys may as well learn this early on or get used to a life of poverty, crime and failure. Our boys could throw co-ed sleepovers (and ALL parents would be on-board, of course) where they could take turns between playing Mortal Kombat and belching contests and painting their toenails (a gender neutral color, of course) and gyrating and lip syncing to true feminists like Beyoncé (complete with f-bombs) and Katy Perry on that dreadfully stupid app known as Music.ly. That’s empowering stuff! When they get old enough to understand, we can slap a pink pussy hat on our sons and take them to a march to whine about our President and injustices towards our gender (because nothing says grit like skipping a day of work and letting others pick up the slack for you). And, when our young men finally realize that girls are different and the one he likes is not just “one of the guys”, he can brag about his conquest and talk in detail about his male parts in a comedy routine and women would just find that so funny because he is a self-proclaimed feminist. Right. As a true feminist, he’d shout her abortion, too. Now, that’s what I call stepping up!
So, no New York Times, I will not be raising my son to be a “feminist”. He will practice all of the above 12 steps. He will be as male as he wants to be and revel in building Lego kingdoms, fart noises and mismatched clothes. He will get his hands dirty. He will have opportunity to run around and get stinky, he will continue to have Nerf wars with his buds. And when he grows out of the age of thinking dating is gross and stupid and that girls have cooties (he’s still there), he will hold the door for her, respect her but he will also not lie down and play dead. He will hold respect for himself and know when to walk away when and if she disrespects him because respect is a two-way street. He will have compassion and a sensitive side but he will not be a whiner. He will know that it’s okay to cry but not be a crybaby in a freaken romper! And maybe, just maybe, this “pink economy”, will find a place for gentlemen once again instead of man bun-donning little jerks that were taught that being male and “all boy” is somehow wrong all while being told to (Step #12) “Celebrate Boyhood”! A girl can dream, right?