I had my heart set on a girl. I mean set. Long before we ever decided to get pregnant I began collecting girls’ clothes for the baby we’d have one day who’d obviously be a girl. Call it vision board-esque, call it demented, either way God decided His willpower was greater than my own. No one was more primed to support future womanhood than me. Yet, having my son has opened my eyes to how unsupportive the world is for little boys and the mothers who are proud of them.
It’s hard enough to raise any child to have a healthy sense of self and purpose in a world filled with mixed messages about what it means to live a good life. Do we seriously have to add gender into the mix, let alone be so negative about masculinity to boot? Good mothers want to raise healthy, happy boys, therefore we demand the following:
1. Stop giving girls all the fun jobs.
Katerina Kitty Cat is fixing the house while Daniel Tiger makes dinner. Fair enough. But, the girl with the gorgeous ponytail and makeup is building a jet engine while the teenage boy is staring at the floor and thinking about video games? Please, spare me the lack of male role models in strong professions doing tough work. Real feminism isn’t about favoring one sex over the other, it’s about favoring equal opportunity for both sexes. “Girls rule, boys drool” is so ’90s.
2. Start featuring little boys in ads, too.
I started noticing this one after I found out we were having a boy. Parents’ magazines are loaded with ads featuring moms bonding with little girls over a variety of things like coloring, outside playtime and the like. The one ad featuring a boy pictured him alone in the dark at night. Fathers were nearly equally as absent. If they were in the picture, they were gay or bonding with a daughter, of course.
3. Stop thinking boys need to be more like girls in order to achieve.
Boys communicate differently than girls. That means they synthesize information differently as well. Public education is geared towards the female mind because intellectuals and policy wonks determined women were being discriminated against. However, in creating classrooms that suit the average female mind, they not only discriminate against women who don’t fit the stereotypes, they put nearly the entire male gender at a gross disadvantage.
4. Quit the unisex everything.
Toy aisles. Clothing aisles. Everything from branding to your child’s own name is focused on being genderless. My son found his penis and started flirting with girls long before his first birthday. He’s quite comfortable in his male skin. Stop demanding that I try to make him into something he’s not.
5. Embrace the terms “boy” and “man.”
It’s totally cool when Angelina Jolie’s daughter decides she wants to be a boy, but when a biological boy decides to embrace his boyishness he’s automatically categorized as a smelly, ill-behaved buffoon, when quite the opposite is the case. Little boys teach us that traits like sensitivity, emotional awareness and the ability to express affection are quite masculine. Chances are you’ll miss all of that if you’re too busy trying to slap a dress on the kid or insult his biology.