June 2, 2017

I had a hard time making sense of this title — "How to Raise a Feminist Son" — with its subtitle.

The subtitle is "We raise our girls to fight stereotypes and pursue their dreams, but we don’t do the same for our boys" (NYT).

How is raising a boy to "fight stereotypes and pursue [his] dreams" raising him to be "feminist"? Or was the subtitle just miswritten, and they'd intended to say we don’t raise our boys to fight stereotypes that keep girls from pursuing their dreams?

But, no, they mean to put the label "feminism" on the encouragement of boys to pursue careers and do household work that haven't been associated with men.
For children to reach their full potential, they need to follow their interests, traditional or not. So let them. The idea is not to assume that all children want to do the same things, but to make sure they’re not limited.

Offer open-ended activities, like playing with blocks or clay, and encourage boys to try activities like dress-up or art class, even if they don’t seek them out, social scientists say. Call out stereotypes. (“It’s too bad that toy box shows all girls because I know boys also like to play with dollhouses.”) It could also improve the status of women. Researchers say the reason parents encourage daughters to play soccer or become doctors, but not sons to take ballet or become nurses, is that “feminine” equals lower status.
This is fairly anodyne stuff. It even ends with advice that would have looked perfectly ordinary in a women's magazine half a century ago:
Raising a son this way isn’t just about telling boys what not to do, or about erasing gender differences altogether. For instance, all male mammals engage in rough-and-tumble play, Ms. Eliot said.

So roughhouse, crack jokes, watch sports, climb trees, build campfires. Teach boys to show strength — the strength to acknowledge their emotions. Teach them to provide for their families — by caring for them. Show them how to be tough — tough enough to stand up to intolerance. Give them confidence — to pursue whatever they’re passionate about.

40 comments:

William said...

I think girls get into soccer because they recognize how cute they look while playing it. There's a reason why no woman ever wanted to be a sumo wrestler. Sexism won't be truly dead until parents encourage their daughters to become sumo wrestlers.

Laslo Spatula said...

"Offer open-ended activities, like playing with blocks or clay, and encourage boys to try activities like dress-up or art class, even if they don’t seek them out, social scientists say."

Remove the anodyne "art class" and you get:

Encourage boys to "dress-up" -- 'even if they don’t seek (it) out'.

By 'dress-up' do they mean a tuxedo or a prom dress?

I am Laslo.



David Begley said...

Glad to see that the de facto NYT public editor is still on the job.

If only Punch and Dean read Althouse.

Michael K said...

Boys can't play with toy soldiers anymore so why not dollhouses?

rhhardin said...

It's advice to women, a genre that continues.

Kate said...

Boys don't seek out art?

Boys don't dress up in capes?

I ain't the one having trouble with gender stereotypes.

Kevin said...

Dreams from My Mother...'s friend down the street.

Laslo Spatula said...

Encourage them to simulate fellatio on a baby carrot was left out.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

You have to start with a baby carrot because confronting a cucumber the first time may instill fear.

Leave that for the sixth-graders.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

Do not show Disapproval if the boys play with each other's anuses: this is part of Growing Up.

This would also be a good time for a lesson in Hygiene and the Importance of Trimming One's Fingernails.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

Don't tell them that Vaginas Don't Have Teeth until High School.

That should be long enough.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

If the young boy wants to wear Assless Chaps then let him: maybe he will grow up to be a Cowboy, like in 'Brokeback Mountain'.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

Do not rush them: let THEM make the connection between wanting to be a Fireman and the Feelings About Their Penis.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

Toy Soldiers are a Bad Thing: channel this desire into playing Exclude The Weird Girl with Barbie Dolls.

I am Laslo.

madAsHell said...

Teach him to pick the atomic wedgie out of his ass.

madAsHell said...

Tell him swirly hair is a fashion statement.

Dave from Minnesota said...

There is a liberal branch of my extended family. My cousin and her husband (who is from Madison) do not let their boy play with toy guns.

When I was a youngster, I had a holster with a cap gun on my through much of my youth. So far I haven't shot anyone as an adult. I suppose there is still time.

tcrosse said...

Don't mess around: cut off his dick and put him in a dress.

Darrell said...

This is how you get a boy named Inga. It's OK until she starts fucking up comments sections on blogs.

MadisonMan said...

An article written by a woman, for women.

I question whether the author is a parent.

Laslo Spatula said...

It is Important to teach young boys that not everyone can grow up to be a Basketball Star: some boys grow up to be the She-Male who gets beaten up by the Basketball Star when he finds out it was a Dude who just sucked his Cock.

I am Laslo.

JAORE said...

Laslo, I love your comments. But I have stricken you from the potential baby sitter list.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Saki's "The Toys of Peace." Here. I know I posted this here just four or five months back, but it never gets old.

Ann, I read that article, and my spirits sank. Apart from that last reference to "rough-and-tumble," what is there but yet another plea that boys be more like girls? Boys are currently already so like girls that one can hardly tell the difference until they crack and lash out.

MadisonMan said...

Michelle, the thing that struck me about the article is that assumes parents -- exhausted, overworked parents -- have scads of time to do things with boys, to mold them into whatever shape the author suggests.

Newsflash: A parent of a pre-schooler has no time for this nonsense.

Quayle said...

I have long ago stereotyped people who alway criticize stereotypes, as being people who above all deal in stereotypes.

Who would ever get away with writing an article about how each of us is an individual who needs to individually find their own way?
That's a one and done proposition. Can't sell copy advocating that.

mockturtle said...

There were two brothers in my figure skating class whose mother also had them taking ballet. In spite of that, they turned out OK. Boys will be boys--thank God!

Don't get me wrong--I was a huge fan of Nureyev and other dancers. But, at least with Nureyev, there was an early and deep desire to dance in spite of, rather than because of, parental pressure.

mockturtle said...

Here's a novel idea: Let kids be kids. Raise them to be considerate, responsible human beings but let their interests take them where they will.

John said...

mockturtle said...
Here's a novel idea: Let kids be kids. Raise them to be considerate, responsible human beings but let their interests take them where they will.

For the win...in this thread and life in general.

DKWalser said...

When my wife and I were first married, we promised ourselves that we would be thoroughly modern parents. We wouldn't impose sex stereotypes on our children. My wife, who had a degree in childhood development, had learned that most sex differences were learned, not biological. We wanted to avoid that.

Her "knowledge" lasted until it conflicted with experience. Our son is only 16 months apart from his older sister. I was still in grad school and we didn't have the money to buy new toys, so he played with his sister's discards. But, he played with them so differently! He acted so differently. It was as if he were a different type of creature than his sister. Which, we learned, he was. He was a boy. She was a girl.

DKWalser said...

...My cousin and her husband (who is from Madison) do not let their boy play with toy guns.

My wife and I had a no toy gun rule, too. That lasted until we noticed our son using the leg from his sister's Barbie doll as a gun. We didn't go out and buy a toy gun for him to use instead -- we didn't have the money for such things. But, the rule died. If anyone had given us a toy gun, we'd have kept it.

RNB said...

A writer I know has come up with a Christmas script about a subversive female elf in Santa's workshop who spends her evenings making toys that 'subvert gender stereotypes.' The first toy she comes up with is 'Dr. Unicorn's Chemistry Set,' featuring a unicorn in a lab coat. The chemistry set consists of plastic test tubes and 'perfectly harmless powders' that change color when you add water. The intent, the writer said, is to attract girls to STEM careers by showing them that science can be 'girly,' since it is associated with unicorns.
.
I asked my wife (who is an actual chemist) her reaction to it. She found the whole notion insulting. "I got involved in chemistry because I find chemistry interesting, not because I was told there would be unicorns."

YoungHegelian said...

Offer open-ended activities, like playing with blocks or clay, and encourage boys to try activities like dress-up or art class, even if they don’t seek them out, social scientists say. Call out stereotypes. (“It’s too bad that toy box shows all girls because I know boys also like to play with dollhouses.”)

I take some comfort in thinking that these feminist moms are unwittingly raising a generation of future conservative & deeply religious men. These men are going to look back on their childhoods & go "Screw that! I wants me a woman who wants a real man & we'll raise real kids."

This has already happened. The fastest growing variety of Judaism in the US is Orthodox Judaism because of just such a reaction.

mockturtle said...

social scientists

Hahahahahahahahha.

n.n said...

Moral axioms or articles of faith: individual dignity and intrinsic value.

So, women and men are equal and complementary. Female chauvinism not required.

Moral, natural, and personal imperatives. Go forth and reconcile.

n.n said...

feminist moms are unwittingly raising a generation of future conservative & deeply religious[/moral] men

Rebels with a cause and a clue. Positive progress.

Sigivald said...

"Feminism" is so widely defined and redefined that it means nothing, in practice.

Shame, since it could mean useful things, and sometimes has and does.

Birches said...

Boys don't seek out art?

Boys don't dress up in capes?

I ain't the one having trouble with gender stereotypes.


Right on.

About the toy guns. My almost three year old turns everything he can find into a gun. It was completely innate. We're not even sure where he saw someone playing with a toy gun.

Unknown said...

My parents were just happy to have us 3 boys out of the house as soon as it was warm enough. They never encouraged us to play basketball; in fact I could not get my father to play it with us. Nevertheless we did sports constantly. They never suggested we climb trees but we did.
My very boyish nephew with 3 older sisters (who constantly try to tame him) was coming through our house while visiting, holding a doll. My wife gasped (like his sisters had won)--I said don't worry. When he got to the steps he threw the doll down the steps as far as he could. It was just something to throw. Claims that boys and girls are the same are simply the victory of ideology over reality.

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funsize said...

"I think girls get into soccer because they recognize how cute they look while playing it."

I invite you to come watch me play soccer--tomato red face and buckets of sweat are certainly not cute. But yes, little girls and boys are adorable when they first start and are terrible at it but still enjoy themselves. Maybe that's why I still like the sport.