My sister and I talk about raising our kids often. She has two active, curious, strapping boys. She has been raising them on her own for practically 10 years now. I did not have the opportunity to raise boys. One nephew lived with us for five school years between the ages of 5-9. But it was a little different. He had some special needs and these were at the forefront of our concerns then.
I do have quite a few nephews, come to think of it. I have had the opportunity to watch them grow up over the years. I would have wanted to tell them many things. But I felt it was not in my place. I’m not their parent.
I want to tell them that it takes someone who is self-aware but not self-absorbed, to be mindful of other people. Such simple things as putting the toilet seat down or recapping the toothpaste when you’re done. Or refilling the Brita pitcher when you poured the last cold glass of water, and putting it back in the fridge. Or sensing the discomfort of another when you are speaking in your native language and they can’t understand you.
I want to tell them about respect and equality. That I hope they would be raised to truly see women as equals, not as accessories, not as someone to “keep house” for them. You know, raise the children they have fathered, prepare the meals, keep the homes tidy and running, go to the school meetings and soccer games, and even attend to their elder parents’ needs. I hope they will see women as having to have their own lives outside of their union, with their own careers and aspirations, desires and needs. All these would not be secondary to theirs. Not above either. Just equal.
Instead, we raised a daughter who would look for this in men she would choose to befriend and to love. Men who are not threatened by the need for equality but rather see it as plain reality, like the sun rising every morning. As commonplace as public transport in a developed country. Men who would encourage her to pursue her passions, who would appreciate her encouragements, and hold her opinions to a high regard. Men who will share in the mundane chores of preparing meals, doing the laundry or changing diapers. A true division of labor in the home front as well as out in the public arena.
It is interesting too that these mindful, considerate, respectful men tend not to only believe in women as equal. They also tend to believe and espouse freedoms of other societal groups—race, color, religion, and so on, all of which support and further enhance gender issues.
This I can say to you aspiring to be men: women love it when a man shows his sensitive side. It does not mean you are weak, sissy, wimpy fags. Those who would spat those accusations at you are the weak sissy wimpy fags, who hide behind the mask of toughness to protect the spineless mollusks they truly are, preoccupied with Neanderthal stereotypes.
But it has to be real, not put on as a front, to deceive or to trick. It would reek out eventually, in your views of domestic chores, off-the-cuff office jokes, or whether women deserve to be in high public office, the army, on a mission to mars, or seek higher education. Or even ideas of medieval chastity. Hmmm. Let’s not go there.
Real women will smoke your true self out very quickly if you choose to fake it. You can fool some players once in a while but just think, did you play them or were you the one played? The authentic ones, the ones you want to make a life with, they’re too smart for the deception. Trust me. I know.
P.S. My sister has often lamented on how hard it has been to raise mindful men. But slowly, she’s seeing some payback. Some parents of her boys’ buddies have told her how much they appreciate having her son over because they are such considerate and kind kids.
- How to Teach Boys to Be Feminists (www.thefrisky.com)
- Teaching Boys Feminism (Feministteacher.com)
- Feminist Raising Boys (momotics.com)
- How to Raise A Feminist Baby Boy (beyondthebox.org)
- The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men (washingtonpost.com)