I was reflecting recently on our focus on girls in the good work to make a more equal and fair society. I am a parent of two girls. Naturally, as a woman, as a feminist, as a person passionate about social justice I want them to grow up in a world where their choices are never limited, their views respected, and the focus of attention is on the things that actually matter, as opposed to the things that really don’t but which creep into our psyche as women (yes I am talking the size of our thighs/nose/tummy insert body part here).
I follow a lot of really fantastic blogs, pages, people who talk about the stuff that really matters for girls. Supporting them as scientists, as learners, as explorers, as individuals. Teaching them and encouraging them in the real truth that there really is not a difference between a boy and girl in the fundamental stuff of life.
In our home we have a little saying ‘Who would want to be a princess? All they do is hang out in castles and have babies’. This is not so much to denigrate those princesses across the world who I am sure live fulfilling and empowering lives (cough cough) but to emphasize to our daughters that as something to aspire to it is kind of dull; life is exciting and full of possibility, sometimes it does not always work out, but limiting yourself before the first hurdle because culture tells you to focus your aspirations low seems particularly depressing.
So far, so much sense, but why have I called this blog ‘being boys?’
Because it strikes me that in all our striving to make sure our girls understand their ability, their choice, their freedoms in our world and where women in other worlds do not have it and why this is wrong(try explain to a 3 year old why women are not allowed to vote in some societies), we totally forget about our boys and what we are saying and doing as parents and communities about supporting and developing them as feminists. When I use the world feminist I mean a person who believes in a fair and just and equal world regardless of your gender. Why can boys not be part of this empowering talk about being what you want, accepting who you are and striving always regardless of your chromosomal make up. While I understand that in a society where men have the upper hand, just through eons of structural inequality, that the argument is they don’t need a helping hand. But here is the thing.
We live in a world of men AND women, if we continue to treat boys and men who act in a feminist manner (ie they think their roles in the world are pretty much the same as women’s) as some sort of special category of super male ( you know, when men who change nappies, get up in the night for the kids or cook dinner are praised as super human new aged guys) then we continue to reinforce the idea to our kids that boys and girls and men and women are not in fact the same and don’t have the same expectations on them in life. So lets talk about supporting boys to accept who they are, to be who they want to be, to focus on their strengths, to be inclusive and loving and empowered by having roles in life that might look like their sisters, their mothers, their partners, their daughters. Lets talk with boys about what matters and what is important and then maybe our girls won’t face such an uphill battle either.
If anyone can point me to any blogs, or interesting writing on supporting boys as super people I would love to share.