As a parent, there are some things you could do in order to help your boy grow up as a good man in this era of change and equality
The Me Too movement, which spread virally in October 2017, aims to call the attention about sexual assault and harassment against women, especially in the workplace. Despite the importance of the initiative, we must keep in mind that these problematics start way earlier in our lives.
Leer en español: En la era de #MeToo: ¿cómo criar buenos chicos?
According to the University of Kentucky psychologist Christia Brown, “by the time girls leave middle school, the majority of them have been sexually harassed.” Furthermore, it is not a problem confined to girls; teenage boys (and men in general), feel the need to “act like a guy” in order to fit in.
For many parents, the conversation is about safeguarding their sons, particularly in their interactions with women. Harris Stratyner, psychologist at the Mount Sinai Medical Center, says that boys who are raised to be empathetic and treat others with respect are more likely to grow into well-adjusted men who have healthy and fulfilling relationships.
So, what can parents do about their sons? How can they help them be a part of the gender equality solution and not the problem?
1. No “girls things” or “boys things”:
Try to keep your son away from traditional gender roles and stereotypes. Also, take a close look to the language you use. Dismissive phrases like “boys will be boys” and "boys don't cry" can set a dangerous tone and put women on a less-than equal footing. Raise boys to embrace their full humanity, as people capable of showing vulnerability and taking care of themselves and others.
2. Both parents matter:
How fathers treat mothers is really important. If boys are raised in families where the masculine figure degrades, belittles, and brutalizes the mother, they are learning that behavior. However, mothers are usually full of prejudices against other women and they should show their sons, through their actions, that despite looks and differences, all girls deserve to be treated with respect.
3. Define the nature of consent:
We need to tell our boys to ask before they touch others and that it is also okay for that person to say no. There is a video called "Consent: It's Simple As Tea", which delves into this issue by using the act of offering someone a cup of tea as a metaphor for sexual consent.
"If you say 'Hey, would you like a cup of tea?' and they're like, 'Uh, you know, I'm not really sure,' then you can make them a cup of tea, or not, but be aware that that they might not drink it," the male narrator says.
According to Faith Salie, from the TIME magazine, good boys grow up to be men who recognize the strength in being vulnerable and empathetic. They are not threatened by criticism or perceived competition from people whom they deem “other”. Boys understand they have permission to feel everything and to express those emotions without shame and they experience women as equals.
This is the future of manhood you could help build by making some adjustments at home.
Latin American Post | Luisa Fernanda Báez
Copy edited by Marcela Peñaloza