Over the last few decades, we’ve seen changes in gender roles and stereotypes. Women work, play sports, and are breadwinners, while there are men who participate more in domestic life, or enter professions typically assumed to be for women only. But biases still exist.
What happens when these attitudes trickle down to what children are taught? They watch. They listen. They absorb. Shown in the video below, Mic Media created an interesting conversation starter about six things we should stop teaching boys.
As parents, it’s clear that there are legitimate concerns about the values we instill in boys as we groom them to become men. Let’s check out a few of the things on Mic’s list.
You ___ Like a Girl
If you haven’t said it at one time or another, you’ve probably heard this one. You kick, hit, run, fight, etc. like a girl. Not everyone takes this as an insult and many girls find the phrase empowering. But for little boys, they may receive it as a form of humiliation or teasing, or as a way to say girls are weak. In the video, Mic says that it frames physical strength as being purely a male trait.
Though physiological differences are real, stereotypes are affirmed both ways and it can cut into the confidence of both girls and boys, making them think they have something extra to prove— or disprove.
This phrase rolls right off the tongue and many say it to push people to step up. You may have found yourself saying it to a son, brother, or significant other for things like doing one’s own laundry, handling financial responsibilities, or being accountable to others (job, kids, relationships).
On the flip side, it can make boys and men feel like they can’t express their emotions freely and honestly. Being vulnerable, shedding tears, and asking for help (especially when mental health is at stake) are deemed to be feminine. It’s damaging as boys can shut down and keep things bottled up.
Get a Haircut
Long hair don’t care. Girls aren’t the only ones prone to body shaming. Some boys are bullied for having long hair and man buns, even by adult strangers. Mic’s point? Attaching a stigma to physical appearance teaches boys that conformity is a must, that long hair just isn’t right.
It’s taught that growing your hair out isn’t for boys, and parents often end up defending their kids to judgmental adults and children. Shouldn’t we just live and let live?
Click on the video below to hear the rest of Mic Media’s ideas. Ultimately, we don’t want our boys to grow up to become power-hungry, misogynistic jerks. In a world where there’s still inequality in the workplace and at home, small shifts in attitudes count, and so does old-fashioned kindness.
Boys and girls are different, but that doesn’t mean one is better than the other, and neither should be put down for their appearances or interests.
What do you think about this list for boys? Have you had to battle any gender stereotypes on your child’s behalf? Do you think you might start tweaking your words? Tell us in the comments!