They Will Know It If They See It — Raising Feminist Sons — Yes, It Is Possible!

Posted: January 24, 2018

Is feminism gender sensitive? No! Women can be sexist & men feminist. Raising feminist sons who grow up to be men who believe in gender equality is possible. #WomenOnTheMove share how.

Parents are more likely to tell their daughters that they can be anything they want — an astronaut, a sportswoman, a scientist, a lawyer — basically anything their heart desires. But do they do the same for their sons? If we want a gender equal society, one in which everyone has equal opportunities and can thrive equally, then we need to shun stereotypes and give our boys more choices.

In these tumultuous times, when violence against women is growing with every passing day, mindful parenting is the call of the hour. 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.”




In our weekly #WomenOnTheMove chat over at Twitter, we discussed how parents can break stereotypes and help make a more gender equal world. This is what #WomenOnTheMove said. (If you’re not yet following Women’s Web on Twitter, do now, and you can come over for the chat too, every Wednesday 6-7 pm IST).

Why raising feminist sons is important

“Boys like to play with boys”, “pink is for girls”, “boys don’t cry”, “girls don’t play football” and many more — stereotypes and gender roles, a by-product of patriarchy, rules our lives and cloud our thought processes. They run so deep in our psyche that intentionally or not, we often play into its hands.

So, what happens when young and impressionable minds are fed with or exposed to stereotypes day in and day out? It results in the rise of toxic masculinity — one where the young minds are influenced by a predominant cultural ethos that rewards sexual aggression and reinforces traditional alpha masculinity and submissive femininity.

Yes, it is important to raise strong girls; but, it is crucial to raise feminists boys. In the words of Canadian Prime Minister and well known feminist Justin Trudeau, “our sons have the power and the responsibility to change our culture of sexism.” Patriarchy affects both boys and girls. When we teach boys to be feminists, it helps them to escape the pressure to be a particular kind to prove their ‘masculinity’. Gender justice, empathy , sensitivity becomes a part of their lives. The role of parents, in establishing a conducive environment where gender equality is not mere words but part of life, becomes sacrosanct. Some ways to do that are:

Lead by example

Leading by example can ensure in establishing a healthy foundation for an open mind that thinks critically about the stereotypes around him, and know when and how to reject them.

Consent is everything

Whether it is a feeble ‘No’ or an aggressive ‘No’ — if it is not a ‘Yes’ then it is a clear ‘No’ and he needs to stop!

Start early

Children begin to notice gender differences and gender role plays in preschools. What they learn about gender at this young age, shapes their worldviews later in life.

Speak up if you don’t agree

Teach them to speak up not only for their rights, but also for the rights of others, irrespective of gender.

Give him role models

Male role models are important for our boys but giving them female role models to look up to, is vital. Talk about the achievements of well known women in sports, politics, media etc. Also, talk about strong women whom they see in everyday lives.

Never use ‘girl’ as an insult

Never say nor let them say — don’t cry like a girl, don’t run like a girl, don’t play like a girl etc! It only reinforces the toxic masculinity! Image: Pixabay

 

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