Opinion: What About Our Boys?

I write for both women and men. It always comes as a shock to me how so many online publications run by women write only for women. Why do we have to push things to the extreme? You don’t have to be a feminist in order to be an independent woman, with her own voice, and who loves men and who, in turn, is loved and respected by men. I take great pride in the fact that Classiq can be at all times be read by my husband, my brother, my father or father-in-law and any other male readers. Culture is universal. Let’s treat it as such. I am interested in everything men do and like, just as the men in my life are interested in everything that I do and like. I am inspired by a photograph, by a film, by a book, by a song, by an illustration, by a life’s work, without ever considering the gender of the author. I like to leave the male or female attribute out of the conversation. It is what it is. It’s about what it is, not about who makes it. Gender should not dictate one’s intake of culture.

In the latest issue of The Rake, Julianne Moore says something that channels my own thoughts and which makes me more aware than ever that we have to take special care of our sons, in our world today more than ever before. “So, in essence, I really would like to bring men into this conversation, too. I really want to avoid feeling combative. And I think people get scared and I want to make sure that, you know, that we move forward together. And it’s interesting, too, because a lot of people were asking me as a parent what I want for my daughter – I want just the same things for my son, don’t leave him out of it! Just because I’m female don’t ask me only about my female child; I care equally about my male child. I want to make sure that they both have the same opportunities and advantages and education, and I want that for all of us.”

I have an almost four-year-old boy and he is the best. He is funny. He is beautiful. He is joyful. He is very smart. He is kind. He is curious. He is loving. He is silly. He is observant. He is warm. He is personable. He is perseverent. He is strong-headed (he takes it after me). He is competitive. He is imaginative. He is quick-tempered (me again). He is forgiving. He is emotional. He wears his hair long. He feels the music and has the dance moves (he takes it after his father) (and shouts David Bowie after his dad whenever he leaves the house). He rocks.

I want the best for him, as every mother does for her child. Every night before going to bed, I ask myself: is there something I could have done better today, was it a better way I could have handled that situation? Sometimes a piece of advice (from outside the family) would help. But I feel that every article I come across, on-line and off, is about raising daughters, not sons. About how we can raise girls to be strong, self-sufficient, self-reliant, competent, feisty. The boys are left out. As Julianne says in the interview, don’t leave our boys out of the conversation! I want to raise my son with strong values, I want to raise him to be a good human being, to be confident, authentic, fearless, responsible, to treat everybody equally, to not be afraid to speak his mind, to know that he can do anything he puts his mind to, to tell his own story his own way, to be himself. I want to raise him well for his own benefit. And I am sure the whole world will benefit from that. Because, boys and girls, men and women, we are in this together, let’s work towards what’s right together.

Please, let’s stop stigmatising men. Yes, there are many with bad character (just as there are women), but there are so many more incredible men. I am fortunate to be surrounded by so many fantastic men. And I know I am not the only one. Let’s see beyond the derogatory and general comments made about men these days. Women can battle sexism, condescension and hostility without shutting men out of their lives. Let’s not discriminate our sons for the sake of our daughters. And, please, do we really need gender specific books for children? That’s one of the most terrifying things I have come across lately. That, and the fact that for a while now I have had trouble buying my son trousers that are not slim fit. Where is all this going?

Now let me tell you one more thing why we must pay extra attention to our sons. In my own experience, throughout my life since as long as I can remember, the boys have so much more often had more emotional problems than girls, they have struggled more to give voice to their concerns, to their feelings, to their ideas than girls, they have been more sensitive and conflicted than girls, they have needed more guidance, encouragement and affection than girls. It’s something I have again recently noticed at my child’s kindergarten. So, yes, I want to make sure that my son has a strong sense of self-worth. I don’t want him to be pushed around by girls and later by women. I want him to respect girls and women just as much as I want them to respect him. Period. No gender is worthier or in more need of attention, support and love than the other. We, as parents of either boys or girls, must encourage and voice this belief. Boys are just as complicated as girls. It’s about time we brought them back into discussion. We are better together.

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