Feminism can rescue boys and men from a toxic kind of masculinity that harms them, leaves them lonely, turns them violent, or minimizes their human experience; such as when they are told that “boys don’t cry.” Feminism is solidarity, an expansive value system in which people of all genders and other intersections can thrive.
If we want to create an equitable society, one in which everyone can thrive, we need to also give boys more choices.
But how can we raise feminist sons?
Here are 9 ways to do it!
- Allow your son a full range of emotions
Boys don’t need to be ‘toughened’ up. They want the same emotional relationships as girls. In fact, they need it.
- Let him play how he likes
Don’t stereotype an activity or toy as “for girls” or “for boys” only.
- Tell him about pornography
Boys should be educated about how sex is depicted in pornography so that they can learn to distinguish these images from what real sex may one day be like. We need to educate them on how to have safe and responsible sex.
- Encourage friendships with girls
Give your son a chance to explore himself outside of constrictive gender scripts, and, ideally, question stereotypes. Girl-boy friendships can help undo some of these socialized gender constraints.
- Teach “no means no”
Teach your son to ask before he touches someone else as early as preschool. Also, teach him the power of the word no- stop tickling him or wrestling with him when he says it.
- Never use ‘girl’ as an insult
Don’t say- and don’t let your son say- that someone throws or runs like a girl. Same goes for sexist jokes.
- Do the work at home that matters to you
Resist gender roles in housework and child care among parents. Share house responsibilities and focus on the things you really like to do.
- Watch Gender-Balanced Media
Be aware of unhealthy gender stereotypes that the media perpetuates- even from the youngest age. Choose educational media that promote gender equality.
- Teach him body positivity
Teach your son to be respectful of women’s bodies and to question patriarchal beauty standards. Tell him that some people have more or less fat but that doesn’t make them better or worse.