This Article About ‘How To Raise A Feminist Son’ Came Out in 2017 But It Is Just As Relevant Today. In Fact, Even More
We’ve been struggling for equal rights for women since a long time now. In ways big and small, we’re breaking stereotypes and showing the world that your gender doesn’t define you. We still have many, many naysayers, potential suppressors who will try to inhibit your growth as a woman. They will tell you what you can’t do and try to break your confidence, right from the time you’re born. So when I was reading an article on NY Times about feminism, it made such a good point, I had to talk about it. The writer said that in order to expand the roles of women, we also have to expand the roles men play. The men too, have to evolve, and only then the society can evolve as a whole. Claire Cain Miller wrote: “That’s because women’s roles can’t expand if men’s don’t, too. But it’s not just about women. 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.” The author wrote how our sons shouldn’t be dissed for showing their vulnerable side or for possessing soft skills such as empathy and kindness. Raise not just feminist daughters but also feminist sons. Here’s how.
Don’t define separate roles for men and women
We’ve grown up being told pink is for girls, blue is for boys. Girls should take care of her vanity – not play out in the sun, maintain beautiful hair, be interested in makeup and tutu skirts. While boys are told to be rough and tough and play sports. First things first, let your child be who he wants to be. If he hates sports and is a softie at heart, that doesn’t make it less of a boy. And even if it does, it’s okay.
Teach him to never use “girl” as an insult
How many times have you heard young boys teasing each other saying “you run like a girl”? Why is a gender used as a way to insult someone? It’s time to teach our sons, that being born with a uterus doesn’t make you an inferior human being.
Share your experiences with him
How will your son know what it feels like being discriminated against for being a woman? Or to be treated inferior? Or dealing with eve-teasing? If you have experiences, share them with your sons. Let them know how it makes you feel.
Teach him to respect choices and consent
I have seen so many Indian parents who will give their son anything he wants – whether he deserves it or not. At an early age, stop giving in to tantrums and teach them how to deal with making peace with others’ choices. Teach him consent – at least the concept.
Let him know it’s never girls vs boys
It’s not a power struggle. Neither is it a race to pull each other down. We are on the same team and both genders play an important role to maintain balance in the society.
And that every person has different strengths
When kids are growing up, boys develop more physical strength than girls, usually. However, letting your child know that physical strength is not everything will help him see the emotional strength women are known to have. Again, there are no rules here. Irrespective of gender, physical strength is not a thing of pride, and definitely not a weapon.
Call him out when necessary
Do not be biased. If you see your son being a sexist jerk, call him out for his actions. Just like you do, for other bad habits.
Encourage him to take a stand
If we need to bring a change in the society, we have to all take a stand against people who are being sexists. And not just our sons, but also our daughters – all of us need to take a stand and make this society a place more secure and safe for our women.
Practise what you preach
Kids learn from their parents and if you don’t follow what you preach, it will fall through. Make sure, you strongly believe in equality and so does your husband. And you follow exactly what you preach.
Encourage friendships across all genders
If he has enough female friends, he will not be alien to their thoughts and feelings. Let him learn first hand how to respect women and understand equality from an unbiased perspective.