And He Learned

When he noticed the naked little girl at the beach didn’t look quite like he did and asked why, they answered his questions in simple phrases painted in black and white, pink and blue, and tradition. And he learned that boys and girls were different.

When one of the neighbor kids painted his nails, they got angry. That wasn’t something boys did. And he learned that there were different rules for boys and girls, and that breaking those made people upset.

When he was handed down a pink bike from his cousin, they replaced it with a blue one, because they didn’t want him to be mocked for having a “girly” bike. And he learned that being girly was something to be mocked.

When he cried, they told him to be a man. And he learned that crying, and being not a man, was something less.

When he was being picked on at school, they told him to stand up for himself. They did not tell him how, but they showed him stories with heroes who used fists and weapons to beat the bad guy into submission. And he learned that strength and force were good.

When he tried to be his own hero, they told him he hit like a girl. And he learned that girls were weak, and as a result, bad.

When he got home, they shook their heads because boys will be boys. And he learned that violence and aggression are expected of men.

When he hung out with the adult men in the family and listened to them talk around beers and grills and whatever game happened to be on the TV, they spoke of women’s bodies in the same way they spoke about the cuts of meat sizzling before them. And he learned that women were for men and their tastes.

When he started joining sports teams himself, they bypassed curse words and skipped straight to associating anything worthy of criticism with girls, because you wouldn’t get in trouble for that. And he learned that deriding women as a whole was acceptable and manly.

When he moved up to the older leagues, the comments came with a little more bite. Qualities perceived as “girly” were now categorized as “gay” and “wrong” and something to be avoided at all costs. And he learned homophobia, or a fear of men who he associated with womanly.

When he looked at billboards and magazine ads, they showed him women’s body parts and bodies, altered to be impossible without a face to remind you of their personhood. And he learned to view them as objects.

When he looked at billbords and magazine ads, they showed him men with rippling, photoshopped muscles that didn’t reflect what he saw in the mirror. And he learned to quietly loathe this body that these objects could never desire.

When he watched television and movies (the ones with the heroes), they always got the girl. And he learned to associate manliness with female attention he wasn’t sure he’d get.

When he watched television and movies (the ones with heroes in costumes and not), they always got the girl, even if she didn’t seem all that interested or willing at first. And he learned that “no” was sexy.

When he watched television and movies, they didn’t need superpowers because they always basically knew whether a girl was interested in having sex based on how little she was wearing. And he learned that attire could mean consent.

When he saw the older boys talk about women outside the silver screen, they talked about all they would do to the women in their fantasies if given the opportunity, never once entertaining the idea of consent. And he learned that women were essentially for use.

When he took that sex ed class, they told him how to protect his penis from STDs and his future from young fatherhood, but they only taught his female classmates to be careful about rape. And he learned that consent wasn’t his concern, but theirs.

When he and his friends started getting into video games, they gave him a world where he could be as violent and cruel as he liked without repercussion. He could even rape a hooker, if he felt like it. And he learned that sexual violence could be entertainment.

When he and his friends flipped on a comedy program, they laughed uproariously as the comedian threatened to rape someone who had interrupted him. And he learned that sexual violence could be downright hilarious.

When he started attending parties, they told him that drunk girls were the easiest, and that’s where he should start. And he learned that consent was really optional.

When he lost his virginity, they congratulated him and asked him for a play-by-play of the carnal details, as they would with each hookup to come. And he learned that sex was about him and the act, not her.

When he started dating, they would reference his girlfriend as a ball and chain, deride any show of emotion, and encourage him to man up by shutting her down. And he learned emotional cruelty was masculine.

When he first experienced heartbreak, they skipped past the culprit and jumped to her gender. And he learned that deriding women as a whole was still acceptable and manly.

When he repeated a crack about women belonging in the kitchen and bedroom in front of some of his more progressive friends, they rolled their eyes or sighed or laughed. And he learned that, really, it’s not that big a deal.

When he listened to one of his female friends lament the harassment she had been experiencing to their social circle, they dismissed her as a hyperbolic exception to the rule, insisting that #NotAllMen were that bad instead of actually hearing her. And he learned that it’s ok to act like it’s really not a big deal at all, too.

It’s funny how that all changes when you hear the words, “It’s a girl…”

He thought of the lessons he had been taught, and how different they were from the lessons he would now have to pass on to her. He thought of all the cruel and “manly” things she would see and hear in her life, and how she would be told to celebrate that dehumanization in the name of masculinity. He thought of how she would have to fight to be seen as more than a punchline about cup size in the office, and how she would spend her life shouldering the weight of projected responsibility for the words and choices of the men in her life. He thought of how one day, she would tell of her frustrations to a man who would dismiss her concerns until they were wrapped up in a pink delivery blanket in his arms because suffering is only valid if he can touch it… no matter how loudly we yell #YesAllWomen.

And he cried.

Well, maybe not.

Maybe he had a little boy, and learned nothing at all. Because hey – boys don’t cry, right?

The question now: are we learning?

* * * * * * *

UPDATE:

If your comment sounds something like, “Well, not ALL men…”

Well, I’m not publishing it. Not all men are misogynists? Well, no shit, Sherlock. Not all men are misogynists, but all women are victimized by those who are. THAT is why this conversation needs to take place.

The point of this piece isn’t to say, “This is EXACTLY HOW IT HAPPENS EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.” It’s to get us to reflect on how our choices, behavior, and words influence the world around us, what that can mean, and how we can do better.

If you have something more productive than the obvious to state, then please feel free to join the conversation.

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285 comments

      1. Gender roles aren’t necessarily something to completely embrace, but I believe Miss Nelson has overstepped a few lines by comparing small gender roles, such as teaching a child the differences between a man and a woman (which according to her is still black and white thinking?), to explicitly vile “gender roles” which are in fact not gender roles at all. Misogyny, for example, is what one should consider sexism. This is just the same as if someone were to consider pointing a finger at someone of a different race and calling them inferior racism, which is very true. Except Miss Nelson doesn’t do that, instead she considers telling a boy that he has a penis, which isn’t a vagina, the same level of obscenity as blatant sexism.

        Unfortunately, to all feminists, hyper-feminists, femme fatales, or what have you, there are explicit differences between males and females and the way the way they act, perceive their world, and live. It doesn’t mean that one should consider the other superior, or inferior, but to despise the explanation of these differences to our children is just as vile as the sexism that pervades our society today.

        If you want your child to have no security in their gender than you can be on either extreme: tell them they must be a stereotypical woman or man, or tell them they don’t have to be of any gender.

      2. Alright, take a deep breath. You’re right, explaining that some people have vaginas and some people have penises is fine. They can also have no genitalia or both. Also something that’s fine to point out. This piece isn’t about looking at the individual examples and saying, “THIS SINGLE MOMENT IS WHERE IT ALL HAPPENS.” It’s about showing a progression of how such a worldview can be cultivated. Understanding the difference in genitalia is a pretty simple starting point. Innocuous maybe, but a starting point.

        There are explicit physiological differences between the sexes. Everything else is a construct, and if we built it, we can certainly tear it back down.

      3. A gender role is a gift. Life is complicated enough without having to figure out what gender you are and what you are supposed to be doing in a general sense. If there is any doubt about this look to traditional or tribal societies for clues. Having said that, the role you play should be one of respect for those of your own or opposite gender. Men are traditionally taught to protect women and to co-operate with, as well as compete with, other men. Men have become somewhat lost in modern western society partly because their roles have been shared with or taken over by women. There needs to be a healthy difference between the sexes to have a healthy society, but these differences can be positive.
        Teaching a boy to stand up for himself is essential, and teaching girls to stand up for themselves is essential too. They will both do it in their own way Anything else is is creating weak, confused people who are easily manipulated.
        Boys and girls need to have differences and fairly wide ones to maintain the energy a society, and individuals need to successfully live. They can still respect each other and co-operate, but killing gender differences will reduce everyone to an amorphous mass suitable only for slaves and mindless workers, something that many of the elites that run the world probably think is ideal. Not me.

      4. I am not a damsel in distress. I do not need protection. And I should not have to shape who I am after what makes men comfortable.

        “A gender role is a gift.” – Says the man. Jesus fucking christ.

      5. I am a strong woman, not only of mind but of opinion. I was told so many times growing up, and even still now that I have grown that I have a “man’s mind”. I used to tremble with anger resenting the insinuation that a woman was incapable of bold opinions, sexual innuendo and strong fierce tempers. However as I aged and saw a little more of life I noticed that they were in fact inherently manly traits and instead of anger I met these comments with indifference. I stopped fixating on the label and simply accepted who I was. I was lucky, my father never saw my gender as a limitation. He taught me both how to cook and clean as well as how to sink a jump shot. Any gender roles a woman or a man lives with are ones they themselves accept and endure. Perhaps stop placing the blame for the worlds opinion of women being too sensitive and ‘hyperbolic’ and take another stance. A stance of indifference; where you don’t assume that you need to over-prove yourself because obviously the men in the room think less of you. This misandry is just as bad the sexist traits you blame men for only lives to perpetuate a cycle of hatred. Remember that the lion does not suffer the opinion of sheep and my dear, you are being a sheep. Move past the blame and towards your own acceptance of who you are and allow other men and woman to come to theirs in their own time. And lastly, you talk of what the men are taught by society and their fathers, what about their mothers, where does the mother’s blame fall in your rant?

      6. 1. Very glad that you found a way to cope with the nonsense that was thrown your way.
        2. Your father sounds like a wonderful man. We need more people like him.
        3. The indifference you propose is another way of saying we should aspire to egalitarianism. However, in order to get to such a society, we would have to live in a world where everyone is on even footing. Current patriarchal and classist systems of oppression make such a world impossible to see without active efforts to promote change. Thus, posts like this.
        4. Misandry is a myth, right up there with reverse racism.
        5. If you think the point of this post is to simply point fingers, you clearly didn’t read it.
        6. If I were a sheep, I’d accept the sexual harassment and misogyny I face on a daily basis without comment because “boys will be boys” and “that’s just how it is.” I believe in creating a better world for my daughter, and I plan on roaring at the top of my lungs until we’ve done so.

        #NotAllMen #YesAllWomen

      7. Thank you for recognizing and admitting this. That takes courage and hopefully something can change as a result. I like to think I am a better father than other men when it comes to gender issues, but I know I have to constantly examine what I say and do, because it is far too easy to repeat what we learned growing up without realizing it.

  1. Thank you for writing this. Thank you so much. I’ve been struggling in trying to express, to the male members of my family, exactly how subtle sexism and mysoginy pervades our society. That it isn’t about this one man, or not-All-men, it is about the social conditioning that allows for their behavior in the first place. What you’ve said here, I hope it helps keep the conversation going, untill the premis for writing it ceases to be an issue.

    1. That won’t be in our time. What a great writing. I saw that everything she said was true, to the shame of our societal structure and how we have evolved it. Most men are too insulted, I think, and guilty, what to do?

      1. Karen A. Dubois, in my lifetime (52 years now) I have seen gay people have their right to marry recognized, a black man become president, a woman receive the nomination for president by one of the major parties and marijuana on the way to being decriminalized. So the notion we can’t teach boys that women are human beings and equal to them and deserving of respect, is horseshit.

  2. Very well written. I am married to a wonderful supportive man and together we raised two sons who learned to respect women. We never fit the traditional gender roles so our sons saw a man crosstitch and a woman drive an 18 wheeler. They both grew up to be excellent at cooking and cleaning, as well as fixing cars.
    I’m sure guys like you describe exist. I’m just glad I never had to live with them.

  3. I was taught the right way, raised to respect women as people. I’ve been unfortunate enough to know only horrible relationships, with dangerous partners. I’ve recently stopped dating, but my time attempting to date did something for me. After quite a few years of study, I’ve become someone all of my female friends look to with relationship issues. I understand now that great pain really can make someone kind, though unfortunately I’ve learned it firsthand.

    I finally have enough life experience to see what is wrong with both genders, and I’ve been trying to help anyone I can, trying to explain these things to people who desperately need to hear it. Being homeschooled, I thought it was preposterous to hear that men would actually treat women this way, until I saw my female friends going through it.

    I’ll definitely be looking more into your blog. I write my own, and I know talking about the genders has helped me, and I’ve been looking for another great blog discussing this.

    I can imagine a world where open beautiful sexuality is accepted, and practiced without fear by both genders. There is a lot of fear when it comes to the dating/relationship world, and we have done it to ourselves. Hopefully we can break down the barriers and learn to listen to each other.

    1. Yes, everything she lists is misogynistic propaganda that is so spread throughout society that it is quite sadly viewed as “normal”, when what it really is is harmful.

  4. Well said Lauren, what you’re describing is one of the hidden truths of western society.

    As a man, trying to balance natural sexual/emotional feelings for women against how our society is skewed/how we’re raised is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. I’ve only found prolonged celibacy as a solution so far!

    It’s like the hidden truth of big money running everything – it really is like The Matrix or They live. Until you see how differently the sexes live, how differently women are thought of and treated…or how big money runs the world and creates a space for your mind to exist – via the media – where incredible inequality is the norm…

    I wish we could just get folks to put on the magic sunglasses and see how the world really is…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCdtrOy_H0g

    Adam

  5. This is so well written. The way men treat women as adults truly does start with how people around them treat women as they are growing up. All it takes to begin with is a set of parents who teach equality, and a set of friends who teach kindness. If every man was lucky enough to have both then the world would be a different place for all of us (men and women).

  6. Normally, I wouldn’t comment – but I’ve been a little frustrated lately at inflammatory comments and blog posts written about the cruelty of “white men”. Being a white man, I do feel a little attacked, despite agreeing with the underlying issues at hand. When folks are in attack mode, I immediately tune them out, and feel like it does a huge disservice to the message people like you are trying to get across.
    Point is, this blog post was shared on a friend’s facebook wall, and it’s on of the first of it’s kind that promoted a good message and I didn’t feel like it was an attack. So keep it up – and please encourage others to do the same, or else I do feel like the message will not get through.

  7. This was so brilliant. I was emotionally moved at the end of the article… because it’s so raw and powerful. The undeniable truth of how most boys are brought up. You’ve done an amazing job, Lauren and I do hope you write more. Thank you. It’s a gift to all of us.

  8. This is something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I’m the older sister to two little brothers, and even when I was growing up I remember being frustrated by the stupid roles gender plays in shaping boys and girls. I remember being scolded when I would sit outside on the porch in the summer and paint my little brothers nails, because ‘boys didn’t paint there nails’. I protested “but the nail polish is BLUE!”
    I didn’t get it.
    I remember crying to my mom when my dad would refuse to play with me, instead playing ‘boy’ games with my brothers.
    I’ve seen the way boys change when they grow up. When my middle brother was little, he was sweet and quick to cry. He had a big heart, and he was kind. He’s still kind, and he still has a big heart, but now he has to hide it, because apparently those are ‘girl’ traits. The ideas of masculinity can push values that are narrow-minded and harmful to both boys and girls. Lately I’ve started talking to them about these effects, particularly the younger one who is now fifteen. The other day he told me something that made me really proud, about how a girl in his class told him she wanted to lose ten pounds, and he told her that was stupid, and she looked fine the way she is, and then how he was so frustrated with society for pushing those images on his friends.
    Sorry about how long this comment was, this post just struck a cord and brought back memories. Nicely written, and I agree whole heartedly.

  9. This made me misty. As the mother of 3 boys, ages 17, 4, and 4, I strive very hard (successfully so far with the teen) to ensure they will not be like the man described here. Unfortunately, there is only so much a mother can do, and I hope that the lessons they learn with me will lead them through college and beyond.

  10. Mostly in agreement.
    Can’t quite agree with every one of those life lessons, but I can see how a hypothetical
    male “could” react/learn those lessons.

    “When he tried to be his own hero, they told him he hit like a girl. And he learned that girls were weak, and as a result, bad.”

    No. Girls were not “bad”, it was just wrong to fight a girl because the truth is, most of them are not on an even playing field when it comes to taking/giving a hit. It’s not
    “manly” to fight someone who is incapable of effectively fighting back. If a guy is branded
    as “weak” he is subject to contempt, but it is cowardly to attack him. Boys do indeed use
    violence as a form of establishing the pecking order, and girls can reinforce this by how they react. It is well known that boys will act more violent and take more stupid risks around girls and believed to be a form of establishing/displaying fitness to mate.

    “When he took that sex ed class, they told him how to protect his penis from STDs and his future from young fatherhood, but they only taught his female classmates to be careful about rape. And he learned that consent wasn’t his concern, but theirs.”

    Even when I was taking health ed many, many years ago, they discussed the
    effects of STDs on women. At this time, the condom is still the most effective form of blocking the transmission of them when engaged in intercourse. And, while a female condom does exist, its not exactly in popular use.

    Rape is far, far more likely to occur against women than men, at least outside of prison.
    It is also far more likely to happen with someone they know than not. Honestly, I can’t
    remember where/when I learned that consent was important. I just know that I have always
    had a hatred for rapists and no desire to join their ranks.

    1. To clarify:

      – When I’m referencing good/bad strong/weak, it’s not about whether or not someone should hit a girl. Frankly, I’m for no one hitting anyone anyway. But when it’s an slight to compare a man to a woman, when guys will strive to not look womanly through violent displays of strength, there’s a problem.

      – Re: Sex Ed, yes, you’re right, condoms protect women from STDs, too. But women are also taught to protect their drink cups at parties, never walk alone at night, and on and on in an effort to avoid rape. Men don’t hear the same guidance, probably because they’re statistically less likely to be attacked in such a manner, but regardless, safety and consent shouldn’t be a gendered conversation. [Aside: part of the reason female condoms are not widely used is because they are not widely available.]

      We all suffer in a world like this. We’re teaching women awful things on the other side, too. Hopefully conversations like this can help change all of that.

      1. I also think the point is missed, we girls are taught we must not make ourselves easy targets, stay in groups, self defense, make SURE you CLEARLY say no, make sure you report it if it does actually happen, but never once are the guys told, Guys, if a girl says no, you are to stop, right then and there. If she is unable to say no, there is no consent. THAT, I believe is the problem.

      2. Why on earth is it my responsibility to have to protect myself from a man? It shouldn’t matter how I dress, if I go to a bar alone. This is victim blaming. It’s time to put the blame where it clearly belongs; on the perpetrators – not the victims.

  11. Nice rant, though I feel like a lot of the articles, columns, opinions etc on this subject it lacks a lot of the key logic of why this is still such a big issue.

      1. Hard to explain to the unevolved. Great post, Lauren. I’m a mom to both sexes. I’m also trying very hard to teach my kids to respect themselves and others – not based on gender. With today’s society, there are days I feel like I’m swimming upstream.

      2. Not sure quite what Stag means but I do feel blogs like this are preaching to the choir. How many redneck misogynists read blogs on the internet? They’re the target group for this information, not all the moms that do read it that are already trying their best to raise respectful sons. Out of the hundreds of men and boys that I have met in my lifetime, two men would fit this profile, neither of which I knew at all; I was a bystander to their bullying behaviour. Both times I called them on it—which, in retrospect was a bit dangerous for me. However, that’s really the only way we can make a difference…concretely teach our sons ways to respect all people and then when we meet the occasional jerk tell him where to go and why. I think blaming rapists on our society at large, no matter if you think it less than ideal, is simplistic. You’re failing to take into account an abusive upbringing, gang involvement, mental illness or other terrible experiences that fall well beyond the norm of most guys.

      3. That’s the point actually – to encourage the behaviors you’re discussing. In my experience, blog posts don’t change a lot of minds, but individual interactions do, and if I can help encourage people to engage in that manner, I will.

  12. I found this to be well written, with a clear voice that illustrated the challenge that we face to really gain equality for everyone. I appreciate the majority of your perspective with two caveats. First, it seems like you believe masculinity to be an artifice (and an intensely negative one at that.) Secondly, are you really implying that a father, who is raised in traditional gender roles, cannot appreciate feminism, or raise feminist boys? Doesn’t that make you just as guilty as those who promote false stereotypes about females?

    1. Hey Terre, thanks for commenting.

      On the first, you’re right, I believe masculinity and femininity are constructs. They refer to sets of characteristics in people, and are not inherent to a given sex. For instance, if you study communication, you learn that there are feminine and masculine means of communicating an idea. Masculine communication styles are more direct and aggressive, while feminine communication styles are more expressive and tentative. That does not mean that all men have masculine communication styles or all women have feminine communications styles. It’s usually a blend. These are just the way we define the characteristics. An argument could be made for different labels, but in the meantime, yes, it’s just a construct.

      No, I don’t have a problem with masculinity. There are positive characteristics associated with masculinity, like assertiveness and determination. I have a problem with socializing men using traditional masculinity, where a piece of the puzzle is aggression, violence, and, too frequently, misogyny. This piece does a really good job of breaking it down: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/05/elliot-rodger-and-poisonous-ideals-of-masculinity/371588/

      On the second, I absolutely believe that those raised in traditional gender roles CAN appreciate feminism or raise feminist boys. I know a LOT of men who have, and I am so proud to call them friends and family. That said, the reason they were able to do so was a willingness to listen, reflect, and grow along the way. It may be naive, but I guess a part of me hopes that writing pieces like this encourages more to do so.

  13. And if that little bundle is wrapped in blue, we teach them within hours that sexual violence is okay and give them their first lesson about it by strapping them down and taking a knife to their genitals showing them that their wants and needs and pain are completely irrelevant too.

    1. Definitely not a form of sexual violence. Simply a procedure for health and cleanliness purposes. I highly doubt a single man who has been circumcised remembers that and holds it as a testament that sexual violence is okay.

      1. This is called cognitive dissonance. You are a believer in myths that harm boys and the men they become. What we do to our children, they will do to society.

      2. Okay – studies/documents:
        http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/moral-landscapes/201109/myths-about-circumcision-you-likely-believe (See Myth #4)
        http://www.doctorsopposingcircumcision.org/DOC/statement06.html
        List of 6 sited articles – http://www.johmann.net/essays/psychological-harm-of-circumcision.html
        From the British Journal of Urology – http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1464-410x.1999.0830s1093.x/abstract?systemMessage=Wiley+Online+Library+will+be+disrupted+Saturday%2C+7+June+from+10%3A00-15%3A00+BST+%2805%3A00-10%3A00+EDT%29+for+essential+maintenance
        From School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Bond Uni
        versity, Gold Coast, Qld, 4229, Australia
        http://epublications.bond.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1016&context=greg_boyle
        “Since it is now widely accepted that infants are capable of experiencing pain and have the capacity for long-term memory
        83 neonatal circumcision may qualify as trauma of the type that gives rise to the long-term symptoms described above. Indeed, since the 1970’s, several researchers have suggested that neonatal circumcision causes trauma of the type that is associated with long-term physiological, psychological and behavioral consequences.”
        Please let me know if you would like more. Male genital mutilation changes the brain. It turns men into victims. The US with the highest rate of circumcised males also has the highest number of men in prison for sexually violent crimes – causation?

      3. Harmed is 100% correct, do your research. Circumcision is not necessary for health of cleanliness, in fact from birth to 7 years uncircumcised boys experience fewer health issues and complications related to their genitalia (and arguably behavior) than their circumcised counterparts.

      4. The whole cleanliness and health reasons is a myth. If you look at the history of circumcision you will find that the reason it became popular in the United States and Britain has zero to do with any actual medical necessity. Personally, I find circumcision a form of body modification and my son’s body is not my body. He should be able to exercise free agency over it. I will not cut his foreskin because it’s the “in” thing to do. Circumcisions are rarely medically necessary.

      5. So when we cut the foreskin off a boy it is a medical procedure but when they circumcise girls it’s a crime against humanity?

      1. It is though. Unless you’re blind and can’t see the clear references. Or choose to live in that weird parallel universe where “Everything on Wikipedia is just made up.” Articles on Wikipedia must be clearly sourced and are heavily regulated to ensure that it contains fact. I have no idea where people get the idea that Wikipedia is an unreliable source.

    2. You can link any Wiki garbage you want. It still isn’t legit as a source. Not one single medical organization in the world recommends Male Genital Mutilation. Until people start seeing it for what it truly is – The first time sex and violence meet. The rape culture doesn’t stand a chance. He won’t remember it is the same mentality as giving a woman GHB or Rohypnol, raping her and saying it’s okay cause she won’t remember. http://dreadpiratedaisy.wordpress.com/2014/06/03/circumcision-promotes-rape-culture-consent-is-sexy/

      1. “Until people start seeing it for what it truly is – The first time sex and violence meet.” I agree. If a surgical team jumped a baby in an alley and circumcised him, it would be considered a horrific crime. That a child’s parents willingly hand him over for it makes it even worse. Then the mothers spends the first week of the child’s life tending for his wounded penis. Sick! Even IF there were “benefits” (there are none that can’t be achieved as well without genital mutilation) with infant circumcision, that would not be justification for it.

  14. This is just SO beautiful, unfortunately it can be so easy to come across as the man-hating feminist when trying to explain these issues but the way you have written this is not put forth in a way that blames men, and that can be shown by the amount of males who have commented positively on this. (I should mention I’m a female before I continue) As a child I was raised by my parents, my father is 13 years senior to my mother and so him being a male from an older generation you would expect him to have quite sexist ideals but in fact it was quite the opposite with my upbringing, my dad was so open minded but my mother could be so oppressive with some of her beliefs. She believes herself to be a feminist and in spoken word she’d be correct but in her actions she could be so oppressive. Cleanliness was expected of my sister and myself whereas my brother was just being a boy when he was untidy, my brother didn’t have to engage in the many household chores but was expected to do more ‘masculine’ activities such as mowing the lawn, and if it didn’t get done, well, he’s a boy, so what can you expect? This type of thinking was not only unfair to my sister and I but unfair to him too, and he has grown up being so disrespectful to women. I certainly don’t blame my mother because I know it’s nothing she ever did on purpose, it’s just a result of her own upbringing which she truly believes she escaped and did not repeat, who am I to rain on her parade? She tried her best and for the most part did a damn fine job. I do find it really interesting how you’ve explored how it’s the subtle things that make difference, because it is absolutely so true in my experience and so many others. All I can do is hold strong and make sure that when I have children I don’t either do the same or go the other way in trying too hard to make it fair and then instead favour my girls by mistake.

    1. To be fair, I agree 100% with the article knowing whole heartedly, I raised my son who is now 22 with many of those same beliefs. I was a single mother, but I thought I needed to teach him the things that were taught to my brothers. That he was supposed to be strong and he wasn’t supposed to cry and he was supposed to be tough. So I too live the contradiction myself.

  15. Deeply moving Laura. I’m the father of a 2-year-old boy who I’m trying to raise in a world (or at least a microcosm) where equality and understanding and shared love are all normalized, and where he is never (ever) told to “be a man” in the sense you’re describing. Thankfully my partner is a great female role model for him, and we’re surrounded by like-minded people who share our values, but I’m still terrified of bringing him into a world where I’ll have to fight the influences that tell him to shut down, man up, own people, and like it.

  16. Interesting article, thanks for posting. I feel like girls of recent generations are facing some of these same issues. I’m 36 and I remember at a fairly young age it being a point of pride not to cry when you got hurt, and if you did you were teased and called a cry baby by your female peers. I also had a very different experience with sex ed class. The class was coed. I got the condom talk about how important it was to make sure my partner wore one, to protect myself against disease and pregnancy. Rape was covered but the boys got that talk as well, and the emphasis was on making sure they understood that when a woman says no, no matter what was happening up to that point, it was time to put the brakes on. I felt pressured by female peers to lose my virginity and was congratulated when I did, and asked for a play by play. I was taught by society and my peers to compartmentalized sex from emotion, casual hook ups with drunk guys at parties were cheered by my female peers. I clearly remember sitting around listening to my mom and her friends deride men over cookies and coffee. I got the message that men were dicks, only good for their dicks and fixing things. So while I think this article brings up many interesting points, and good things to consider as a mother raising two boys, I don’t think things are quite so black and white anymore…or should I say pink and blue.

    1. Hate speech? Because she wants society to raise respectful, non-violent people who treat each other decently?
      This epistle wasn’t about hate. It was about stopping hate. And until society as a whole (and yes, that includes women as well as men!) ceases to treat women as objects, the hate lives on.

  17. Thank you for a wonderful post. Wonderful in the weird sense of accurately describing my personal story and the story of most men in the U.S. Thanks for the mirror. Let the learning continue.

  18. When I read this, I think of a few friends who act this way.
    Then I remember how my father raised me. I’m so thankful that I was raised with a sense of respect for all living things regardless of gender, age, race, or even species.
    There is also a point that comes to my mind that I haven’t seen people directly comment on. And that is how children interpret our world and what they do with that interpretation. I’m not a father yet myself, but I like to think that when that time comes I will make sure my children know not to dwell on what society tells them is right or what the media says is desirable.

  19. I would like to valid this and say that it took having a daughter for me to FINALLY, at the age of 32, begin to see the world through her eyes and ask the questions of would I EVER accept the treatment, limitations and attitudes she will face if it were me. Of course I wouldn’t put up with any of that. And then I realized, she shouldn’t have to either. I hope the day is coming when popular culture will teach our children about equality. Real equality.

  20. Sometimes I think we’re learning, that we’re getting it. The outcry over Boko Haram, the support for Hillary, the growing presence of women in all sectors of industry and life, and I think we’re finally making up for so many years of inequality and mistakes.

    And then my roommate thinks that Maleficent was a feminist movie because there were no good male characters or I see the moves made by politicians to make women in their jurisdictions helpless or hear liberal news anchors wonder if having a grandkid will affect Hillary’s chances at the Presidency. And then I realize we have a loooong way to go.

    1. Definitely. I was just telling a friend of mine that, in some ways, it feels like we’re reaching a sort of boiling point on a number of huge issues. I don’t know what it looks like when we do. All I know is something’s gotta give… right?

      1. Yes, but what’s going to give and how’s it going to give? I may be a guy, but my eyeballs just threaten to pop out of my skulls when I hear what male politicians want to do with women in this country. And then they never even ask if women like their ideas! You know something’s wrong right then and there.

  21. This was very interesting, also very thought-provoking. It raises awareness to some very common stereotypes in our society. I do think that the focus was on the stereotypes that we see in men, and not much on what we see commonly in women. But that would’ve been a whole other blog! Very good post! I wrote a YouTube video called ’11 Things Every Father Should Tell His Daughter’ this post reminded me of that video.

  22. LOVE THIS. I am currently raising my three-year-old outside of traditional gender roles/expectations. He was looking at a pink helmet today and the cashier said “Isn’t that a little girly?” And I said, “No, it’s simply a color you’ve forced to be feminine. He can’t control the color he’s naturally drawn to. He can wear whatever helmet he wants, so long as it fits.” He understands that he’s a boy, and shows no signs of identifying as female, but he plays with/wears/etc. whatever he wants — no matter if it’s aimed towards boys or girls. I’m letting him find himself on his own. I refuse to be his first bully by telling him he’s wrong for something completely harmless and that comes to him naturally. We should all just be people — not pink or blue, baby dolls or dinosaurs, football or cheer-leading, hunting or shopping, cleaning or yardwork. We should all be able to do whatever the hell we want, why does it even matter? I hope I live to see the day (though I know I won’t) when things and actions and feelings aren’t only for boys or girls, but for people.

  23. Lauren, I love this. And I’ll echo the other commenters who say they are glad to see you writing again. Even if it is only intermittent, you voice things that so many of us think but are not brave enough or talented enough to say ourselves. Thank you!

  24. Who says we need to learn? 1/2 of this stuff you said is true for some men but not all but most of it is shit feminists make up to make men look bad. Painting nails and pink are girly. Standing up for your self is right, don’t allow yourself to be walked on. and Yeah boys will be boys, maybe you haven’t taken a science class but we’re not girls, physically and genetically different. so YES BOYS ACT LIKE BOYS. We are suppose to. Sports, yeah we say you throw like a girl, because who’s actually better at sports that boys play? boys. People want to watch talent not the WNBA. Yes men express fantasy, like said, fantasy. Thats why its still a fantasy, because we know of consent. There have been many studies that violent video games do not directly correspond to violence, theres another feminist fact you make up. I was taught about rape in school and in life. Nice try. You’re incredibly annoying. Proud man, always have been and always will be. VIVA

    1. This whole comment is so sad.

      I’m nowhere near being a feminist. I’m a person. You’re a person. I believe in peoples’ rights, not just women’s rights. I wholeheartedly believe that you, as a person, are deluding yourself with these thoughts. It’s sad.

      Why is painting nails girly? Why is the color pink girly? On the 8th day, did God say “Adam, thou shalt never wear pink,” or did we silly humans just come up with that one day?

      Does the strongest man in the world become weak if he puts on a pink shirt or paints his nails, or does it just make you and all of your “masculinity” uncomfortable?

      Why are boys better at “the sports boys play”? You just said it yourself… boys are the ones who play these sports. Naturally, that means they’re better at them since girls aren’t even allowed on the field.

      Standing up for yourself is the right thing to do whether God gave you a penis or a vagina. Get a clue.

    2. A human’s sex falls on a continuum. There is masculine and feminine on each side and in the middle there is androgeny. You are completely wrong sir because your comments like “YES BOYS ACT LIKE BOYS. We are supposed to.”… Where in the world did you learn that? Because no one is supposed to act like anything. You fall wherever you fall on the continuum and if your sex is male but you are closer to the middle of the line there is nothing that says you are supposed to act in any way. Lauren’s post is about letting little boys and little girls grow up in a world where they can be told to act however their own brains and hormones direct them to act. Telling them that they have you be “tough” or “sensitive” in situations where they might not naturally feel that way is what you are saying is right. All that says about you is that you are too close-minded and unknowledgeable to actually understand what she is saying and how she is trying to help open up other people’s minds to a new idea that could help a lot of people in this world.

    3. …. I think the problem is the general encouragement of hate and violence… I think both sexes can “appreciate” the look of the opposite sex from time to time. And also… Some of us guys just like weapons for some inexplicable reason… I like tanks and guns… I guess the only reason we watch all these violent movies is because we like violence… Yes. Really passionate feelings just need to become main stream again…

  25. Amazing! I wish every parent had to read this. As a nanny and I see the damage that gender stereotypes, reinforced from birth, can do to kids as young as 3, girls not allowed to play sports and boys told that they are being weak and not brave enough. So sad.

  26. Lauren, this is a very touching post and it made me discover your blog. I love your style! I wrote about that subject too today for my Writing 101 challenge… Your post confirms my initiative! ❤

  27. Trying to raise boys differently is sooo hard, because of all the other crap they learn from everywhere else. Thanks for this essay Lauren, more of these conversations are desperately needed.

  28. Thank-you for your article. I am a mother of a beautiful 6 year old boy, I have shared your words with my family in the hope that they may be aware of how thoughtless words and actions can manipulate my growing boy.

  29. Your rants are ridiculous trash. Rubbish that stirs the pot. If you had any real concerns other than using scare tactics you would note ways to change the though processes, rather than pointing pointing pointin that finger. I wish this feed was printed so I could buy a bird and use this rag for it’s droppings.

    1. Before you can get to a place of change, you’ve gotta be willing to admit there’s a problem.

      But really dude, move on. I’ve already deleted your other posts, though concluding that they were useless took some doing – had to try to figure out what the fuck you were talking about (P.S. your voice to text app blows).

      The only reason I’m approving this is because I laughed until I cried at the bird comment. I’m still laughing, actually. So thanks for that, I guess.

      1. The bird thing was good, but I’m laughing more at “hippocrates” – reasonably certain he doesn’t mean the father of modern medicine. Thanks for the post, Lauren, and thanks random commenter for the belly laugh.

  30. Thank you so much for this post. It’s easy to be deceived into thinking that our society has evolved beyond narrow-minded ideas regarding gender, but then I listen to a recording of a North Carolina preacher encouraging his congregation to beat their children if their sons act too feminine, or their daughters don’t act feminine enough, and I’m all too aware that posts like this one are still extremely relevant and necessary today. (And in case anyone wants to call BS on the example I’ve cited above, here’s a link to that recording: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/01/north-carolina-pastor-sea_n_1468618.html )

  31. I’ve never seen women as something less worthy than men, probably due to the fact that I have two sisters, if anything they’re worth more.

  32. Thanks for writing about this. My childhood was a lot like this, only I didn’t have very many male role models or friends in my life. Since I was raised by mostly women, I didn’t like or fully understand what was expected of me as a male, and got a lot of trouble from “concerned” adults (including my own parents) and bullies for it. Because being quiet, reading books, and knowing how to run a household was apparently unacceptable. Wasn’t very fun. It’s such a politicized concept now, but no one helped me 20 years ago. Crying made it worse, and though fighting and anger gave me more confidence, it got me into even more trouble down the line. I was acting “like a man”, and yet I got punished for it. What was I supposed to do? Why should I take it? I saw that the whole gender role thing wasn’t working, but that left me at a loss of how I should be. As an adult, I’ve come to realize just how limiting and harmful those expectations – for men *and* women – really are. There’s tons of pointless mudslinging coming from all sides, but very little real talk. I’ve made it a point to focus solely on a person’s abilities and decisions, not what’s in between their legs. That’s more important than whatever trends or expectations that are pushed upon us daily. Of course, it hasn’t won me many fans. Women assume I’m lying and don’t take me seriously, and men treat me like a pariah. Everyone still thinks I’m from another planet or something…

  33. Very moving blog and well written from natural day to day life experience. I raised a boy and girl and every day was about learning and educating myself to new situations with the ability to cope with all types of problems from being a parent. If you can write strong and powerful words in your blog, this means these words come deep inside your thoughts and feelings, which makes you a great parent and person ( Never forget this ) ….

  34. Please, may I reblog your piece? You have written all that I think and in a very better way I could ever do (especially not in my mother language :p)
    There’s a little thing I want to add, more to answer at some of the comments than to your article: is very very sad to see people mistake differences between women and men given by culture as differences given by nature. If women and men perceive the world around them in different ways is because the world (read: the society) reacts in different ways to them because of the gender rules their culture established for them. And when the problem it’s culture it can (and must) be changed. No excuses.

  35. Well put. We hurt even when we try not to hurt. You would think of all the intelligence out there we would be smart enough not to sting with our remarks and actions.

  36. This is great. Great writing and great insight. I’m looking at the world in 2014 and seeing that all social behaviour DOES contribute to this issue. Today. How many teenage girls are NOT interested in pursuing a ‘desire able’ appearance with a pouting selfie on their Facebook page. How many are truly confident to make a choice that doesn’t follow the norm? The messages are very powerful indeed, just as you describe. Not sure what the feminists of the past would say about this world in which we live.

  37. Very well written and thought-provoking piece. It is amazing how many of those things I had been taught and even repeated without taking the time to think about the negative affects those phrases have on both genders behavior. I have definitely learned over the years and continue to do my best to not perpetuate the problem.

  38. Man. There is some stuff right here that hits home pretty hard for me. Though I have never had such extreme experiences when dealing with women (I was brought up by my grandparents, and have always had a strong female figure in my life.) However, I did have some when I was a bit younger and really still trying to figure out what being a man meant. I didn’t have a father’s example to follow at all. My grandfather gave me a strong moral grounding, but he was out of touch with the more modern ideas. I was really poorly prepared for social interactions in school, and outside of it. Whether with girls or boys. I tried emulation, agression, and finally I just went with what seemed to be a general sense of ‘being a man’. For me that continued until my second year of high school. I was a terrible person in my mind. I threw my weight around and seriously hurt someone who was only trying to help me. All because I didn’t want to look weak. Luckily that was a wake up call, and I was able to repair that friendship. I am now much more apathetic to the feelings of bwing overly manly. There are two important things I felt from reading this, and I feel that there are a lot of young men my age who need to wake up and really look at this as well and not just try to deny it. Almost every man has had some experience with things like this. Sometimes it’s hard to break away from what others have built into you, and the general world tears at our good morals, hungering to set us at each others throats. There will always be someone taught they are superior, or more right, or that some else is less then them for acting a certain way, believing something, or being born the way they are. I think those people are lost, and need guidance. I feel like it might seem like I am just rambling now. Perhaps I am, a part of me wants to say, not all of us guys are monsters, but again everyone can become a monster if they are only shown that to be right, or have become so a customer to that way they would rather die than change, than suffer shame. I have some much emotion wrapped up in this comment, from reading this. It’s a good feeling. It’s so important to grow, and change. I suppose in the end, my comment really boils down to this: No matter what we do, or how we think, or what we know…we can always change for the better. I did.

  39. Thanks for writting it clearly, at the other hand, there is also “She learned the way they taught her”. This is such a big issue for us now as an adult, have we educate the kids(not necessarily our own kids) with the right thing? In my concern, family is where it starts.

  40. I absolutely love this very well written and paints a perfect picture of how society as a whole impacts our perspectives….. and half the time we don’t even realize it! An amazing piece I love it!

  41. I have 3 children myself and I know I have said some of those things to my boys. Honestly your article has made me think hard about what you wrote because it makes complete sense and I never really thought about it in the way you have.

    I love the article and will be sure to re-blog it.

      1. It is my pleasure Lauren and why wouldn’t I when something makes sense, to be honest I don’t think I will use the term (dont be such a girl) ever again.

  42. I absolutely hate the “All women have to deal with this” um no. I agree this is a huge issue that we need to talk about as a human race but no for some women this does not effect them. They were told they could do what the boys could do, to go out with their guy friends, that being girly was okay just like being boyish.

    1. Absolutely true. I grew up hearing I could be whatever I wanted, and that my gender was not an inhibition to my success.

      But even so, I get catcalled every time I walk down the street. I can’t go into a bar without having my ass grabbed. I get emails from readers saying someone should rape some sense into me. I’ve had drinks drugged. In the professional realm, it is routinely assumed that I’m a secretary, not a Director of Communications. I’ve seen dear friends – strong, independent women – endure the same things. I’ve seen them become victims of rape.

      Maybe not all women are told that they “can’t,” but all women have suffered at the hands of a world that tells men we’re less.

  43. Just to be clear, not ALL men are like that. 🙂

    Kidding aside, thank you. As the father of two daughters, I find it an uphill battle to convince them they are both just as capable — if not more so — than boys their own ages. I have seen a boy cousin of theirs tell them they can’t do something because they are girls, to which I replied “Yes, they can.” They have gone on to prove that they can do whatever their cousin said they couldn’t.

  44. I am a man and don’t understand the commenters who take this to be an anti-male rant. Aren’t males raised in the way depicted also losers? What kind of life can be expected of a man who is not allowed, and therefore cannot, develop any feeling of mutuality whatever for a woman? I wonder at the cultural roots that promote this sort of stunted, emotionally bereft landscape. We’d all be better off if we allowed into our life the full impact of a woman’s humanity.

    1. Off and On wrote… “I wonder at the cultural roots that promote this sort of stunted, emotionally bereft landscape.”

      Fundamentalism – The United States is principally Christian. Unfortunately, it’s earliest roots consisted of those with very conservative beliefs, Puritans, for example. Also unfortunately, the texts and dogma defining these groups are intensely misogynistic.

      Did you ever wonder where the phrase, “I guess we know who wears the pants in that family” comes from? And what is the reference to pants anyway?

      The wearing of pants is a sign of authority. Women are not to wear pants because they are to be submissive to the man. Boys were not allowed to wear pants until a certain age, wearing either knickers or shorts until puberty, where they could then assert their authority over women.

      These cultural mores were very strongly ingrained in our culture and remain so today, but now in more subtle and insidious ways. Although it is very evident even in pop culture such as the show 19 Kids and Counting, where the girls/women are not allowed to wear pants.

      I doubt I will live to see a world where every individual is equally valued as a human being without judgment since I’m already in my fifties, but one can continue to hold out hope.

  45. Thank you. This is beautifully written and an excellent contribution to a complex problem. The more I’ve been reading and thinking (and writing) about these issues, recently, the more I realize that WE ARE ALL in many ways to blame. Now, I don’t mean blaming the victim, I mean that it’s not just men (nor is it every man) who sometimes turns a blind eye to the societal conditioning that surrounds us. Just today I was reading an article about a bathing suit calendar with plus sized women. I’m all for that, of course. But, there was one statement in it that really bothered me. I am paraphrasing here (because I can’t find the actual article), but basically it said anyone can be sexy in a bikini (I agree) and that we can be sexy FOR MEN. I admire that company, I admire the concept of celebrating all body types, but until we, as women, can say we are doing something because it makes us feel powerful, strong, and sexy we are perpetuating the problem. We are wrapping ourselves up as gifts to be more attractive to men. We are marketing ourselves as prizes that they should win.
    As a mom of a daughter, I sometimes catch myself using phrases that reinforce the status quo. I’m trying to change that, but it isn’t easy because it so subtly ingrained into who we are.

  46. Guy here, wonderous, timely, and poignant tale. Anyone taking offense, obviously has to look deep within to ask — why? If it’s not me, why should I care what’s being said, so succinctly, above. Answer: you shouldnt… unless that sounds like you.
    The past had us beating women with the “rule of thumb”, wearing them as accessories, and, in general, diminishing their overall mental health (with regards to self image and intrinsic value placed over the superficial) in order to support our — which CLEARLY was more relevant.
    That is utter BS.
    Everyone on earth has value. Has unique perspective. Has part of the tale of life to tell, just as valid and important as the rest.
    The zeitgeist is, on average, what you’ve read above. At least from what I’ve experienced, and it’s time we all demand change.
    As to whether or not this comment is relevant, or is saying something new? I don’t care. This piece moved me, and rang true, and, now lodged in my mind, will be on my tongue when a misogynist starts a rant all too common to mine ears.
    Enough is enough.
    Love and respect all life, or, truly, you don’t love and respect (nor deserve), your own.

  47. I would have congratulated you for being freshly pressed, but honestly, this article deserves to be published on every blog not just for likes or comments but handling a serious issue so rationally. Reblogging.

      1. Serious points lost for the ‘No S*** Sherlock’. It’s unfortunate, immature, hostile and really doesn’t serve the content. If an androgynous society is where we are heading, I can accept it and appreciate it. I guess I just wonder how PC we will get before we start deciding that diversity and celebration of the ends of spectrum has some merit beyond traditional stories. You say reverse racism is a myth in a previous comment, but I disagree. Privilege is invisible to those who have it, wouldn’t you agree? That’s the luxury of being in this much-hated demographic that has all the opportunity. I have a feeling that when the day comes and women feel like they are on an even footing with men, they will be severely disappointed. Call it the paradox of choice. You are very smart and well-written. I admit these articles can cause me many conflicting feelings, but when one such as this is found, it does help to reflect. I often feel ashamed, lost, angry, disempowered, defensive, disarmed. The fight is just, but it does not come without some cost. Mid 20′s middle-class white male.

  48. I love this. Thank you, Lauren!
    Stereotypical gender roles are some of the hardest constructs to overcome because, unfortunately, there are so many social repercussions for stepping out of bounds. Even for an enlightened, progressive individual (which I consider myself to be), I know that I will be much safer, more popular, and less abused by society if I play out my “man” role. Even more importantly, I know when I have children, they will be safer, more popular, and less abused by society if they play their stereotypical gender roles.
    How do I tell my future son it’s okay to wear pink or pick flowers or do ballet, knowing he will be abused for it by his peers? Even if I tell him to see beyond the social constructs of gender, will he really learn anything if the rest of society perpetually forces him to think otherwise? I suppose the best I can do is teach him to respect women as equal human beings (as I so fortunately learned being raised by only a single mother and two sisters).
    Enlightenment truly is a painful burden.

  49. I find the comment about you being a “shit feminist” repugnant. Regardless of what is expressed, surely teaming those two words together outs a person as not believing in equality at all. Feminism is about women being equal to men and gender being irrelevant – breaking down the borders of being a “tough” guy or a “bossy” girl. Its understanding what such words do to shape a personality and a life story.
    You can’t be a shit feminist. You can however, be a shit person. And as an aside. using the word “shit” to describe your views on (in my opinion) a very well written and thought provoking piece simply shows you lack the eloquence to explain how you feel without resorting to swears. Lauren, I really enjoyed reading this, so thank you.

  50. I enjoyed this post, and can attest that what society teaches it’s children is truly messed up. I didn’t realize how much until I met my significant other. My love was the one who taught me many years ago that crying was okay, that talking about my feelings was acceptable, and didn’t make me weak, hell, that *having* feelings was allowed. That sitting down and having a conversation was better than breaking my hand on a cinder block wall, and that people who were more emotional than logical weren’t stupid or less worthy of consideration than ppl like myself. Oh, BTW, I’m a woman, and my husband is the one who taught me those things. Our society is one that is uncomfortable with many, many things. And teaches kids the bass ackwrds way of dealing with it. They teach avoidance and belittlement of anything that impedes on the status quo. This goes for both genders. Yes, I have the more masculine roles in my household, I’m the one who’s more likely to build a shed or fix the faucet, and I’m the disciplinarian, cuz my husband is very inconsistent with rules and follow through. My girls and boys won’t be raised any differently, both need to learn how to be decent human beings, no matter what’s between their legs.its simple. Don’t be an asshole, and don’t be a doormat. There’s a lot of room between those extremes so I hope we can learn to just leave our kids enough room to develop emotionally and morally.

  51. All people, boys and girls, learn how to treat others by observation. Short of saying we are just like domestic animals, we are trained by what we grow up with. How to talk, how to think, and how to act. I see this everyday as I am a teacher. I wish everyone that read this truly understood what their actions show others. You may show someone how to speak to someone when you are at the grocery store and a little one is listening,( yours or not. ) Our daily actions and influences on others usually go unseen to us but I am here to tell you….. it is real. Be a role model when you are in public. Show those looking in your direction what “good” is by the way you talk to others, help others, and respect others. You are always being watched by little eyes desperate to learn how to be a “grown-up” and do for themselves. Be proud of what you taught them.

  52. I am so glad that I fell in love with and a married a man who treats me not as his queen or his princess, but as his equal. This is our life to walk together. Maybe sometimes one of us will get ahead of each other (it happens) but we will wait for the other so the other can walk through life with us as an equal. And I am proud to know that my future children–daughters and/or sons–will be raised how we were. That gender has little to do with the heart and soul your being encases–that no man or woman deserves violence but acceptance. I am proud I was raised that way, proud he was raised that way. Proud that if I do nothing else remotely wortwhile in my life our future children will be raised that way and their children and theirs, a testament to our family that they’re teaching us a person matters no exceptions. That is the legacy I want to leave behind, the legacy I hope we all do.

  53. Yes, that is what I learned when I was young. It has taken a long time for me to relearn to be a normal person in society. From reporting injuries, to not holding in my thoughts/stress. Hopefully more people will learn that people are people. Women and men are the people.

  54. I appreciate this article. Yes, it outlines the culture of misogyny and patriarchy that we live in while omitting what I believe maybe the downfall of the feminist movement: The Animosity. When men are blamed from being introduced into a society with a tradition of hundreds of years of patriarchy, and attacked for being a part of it, it is creating greater polarization between the two races. The demand that change occurs now is a bit preposterous. The percentage of men that will respond and teach their children the blessing of equality, will take a lifetime to produce a generation with children that believe the same ideals. After having lived 30 years with the thoughts that are outlined in this story, change is difficult for every person. Time will close the gap, with peaceful protest, not verbally attacking men. When verbally attacking the men that are accused of executing and supporting this misogyny, the only response while be more animosity from the opposing side. I fully support feminism and equality, but the vicious attacks on men are not helping.

  55. As the mother of two small boys, this really resonates with me. I see my own actions in these words, and, just, fuck. I thought I’ve been doing well to raise respectful young men, but dammit if I haven’t missed these simple truths. Thank You.

  56. made me realize that it is time for us to change not only our mentality but also the way in which we mold a child. be it a girl or a boy it should be the same technique.

  57. Some of us ARE learning. As the mother of two boys, one of whom will shortly enter puberty, I am teaching the following:
    1. No means NO. At any time. From either party. Sex is like anything else: No one OWES it to anyone else.
    2. There is nothing wrong with NOT having sex when your 15… or 25… or 45.
    3. Masturbation is a great thing. You can have it almost any time you want it. You can’t get someone pregnant by doing it. You can’t catch or transmit an STD by doing it. It’s always consensual.
    4. Always practice “defensive sex”. It’s never your partner’s responsibility to protect you from pregnancy or STD’s, it’s YOURS. Failure to take responsibility is YOUR fault, NOT HERS.
    5. What matters most is not “the way you meant it”. It’s how the other person understood it.
    6. “Hot” describes a temperature, not a person.
    I’m sure we’ll come up with more “rules” along the way, but these things are at the core of what I see as responsible (boy) child raising.

  58. People forget so often that women can be a problem too. We are taught to compete with each other and outdo each other and one-up each other and view each other as a threat. And it’s disgusting. There have been lots of conversations about men and sexism recently, but I think it’s also important to remind women not to make enemies of themselves and each other. We have to stop looking at each other as threats, because that’s a huge part of the problem. We are taught to be jealous and envy each other based off of physical appearance. We are taught to feed into this same system via gossip and name calling. We are taught to blame and question victims as well as men based off of their sexual and drinking and clothing habits. It’s sickening, and it tears me apart to watch it happen. I understand it is part of a society run by a bullshit ‘masculine identity,’ but we have to watch ourselves in this way and have each other’s backs.

  59. This was wonderful. I think sometimes we forget to consider the fact that to get to this point for the men, it wasn’t an overnight thing. They didn’t simply get some random idea in their head, but are nurtured to present themselves in a certain manner.

  60. Right on the spot!! I can so relate to so many things which we as women teach our young boys unintentionally not knowing what their consequences could be in the coming future. We really need to give a thought again…is 21st century free of gender bias….not until we change our methods of teaching…

  61. Best out there. Thank you. Scary. First week at Tufts a supposedly gay guy new friend tried ro rape me. Confused, so confusing, I learned that no man could be trusted to even know who he was and how to listen ask or communicatw when feelings changed and shifted. I was so sad, shocked, and outraged. I had pretty much been safe, and taught not to lie or steal or take from others. I THOUGHT WE ALL WERE TAUGHT THIS AT HOME. I was wrong.

  62. I don’t have the time to dedicate to reading all the responses but I really appreciate the article. It demonstrates the dual victimized of both genders. Women and men are equally objectified by this trend. Women as objects of lust and men as mindless animals that are expected to think about nothing except sex and food.

    It is not against men that you are ranting (at least I didn’t see it as such), so much as against a cultural and societal trend that has definitely gone way past the point of needing polite correction.

  63. I grew up with a father who saw women as meat, but a mother that would slap me into next week if she heard sexism. Along with the traditional role South I’ve grown up in, I still manage to be equal to all. Perhaps because of my school environments. All I’m trying to say is, the reason we have this problem is because kids are dumb as shit now. They don’t think, they don’t question barriers, and they have no balls (no sexism intended ladies, it’s just a figure of speech) to stand up for what they believe. Children are born angelic to all, but when they are scared into believing something, they have torn down all 9 months of miracles in their body and transformed into a brick wall, or perhaps, a train car, one for all to “tag”, spray paint, make their mark because others don’t know when to just shut the hell up.

  64. Since you’re not brave enough to publish this comment anyway, this one’s just for you.

    “If you have something more productive than the obvious to state”

    What’s wrong with stating the obvious? If, as you claim, you ARE aware it’s Not All Men who are the problem, why fly into a rage and threaten to censor anyone who has the gall to point out that it’s Not All Men?

    Unless, of course, your narrative depends on blaming this on all men.

    For the record, I have three daughters, and THEY know there are good men in the world. I’ve raised them to recognize that there are men and women, and good behavior and bad behavior, and that gender is no determination of moral character.

    It’s a shame you still haven’t learned that.

    You can go ahead and delete this now. Enjoy your sad, scared evening.

    1. I’m glad your daughters have been taught that, though I’m not sure why you think I haven’t. The reason I’m not publishing the “not all men” comments anymore is because it’s serving as a distraction from the larger conversation – which is that there’s enough of those men out there that ALL women have suffered for it. We know not all men behave this way. But there are too many people who don’t realize the flip side, and that’s the whole point.

      And my evening’s been quite lovely, thanks. Played with my daughter, tucked her into bed, and now I’m coding and relaxing with a little Orphan Black and chardonnay. Cheers!

  65. Lauren Nelson herself states that her posts are random, opinionated, utter nonsense (see the top right corner of the page). That hits the nail on the head. I can’t believe I wasted 4 minutes of my life reading this garbage. One can only assume that Ms. Nelson must be filling the heads of any boys with whom she has contact with all of this garbage, else how could she possibly know ‘and he learned” this piece of nonsense “and he learned” that piece of nonsense? the only way I can see it happening is if she is the one doing the indoctrination because, let’s face reality, she would not be present at almost any of the “and he learned” vignettes she relates. Unfortunately this “random, opinionated, utter nonsense” was posted on Facebook, or I would have never encountered the venomous, biased and malicious method in which Ms. Nelson influences the young boys around her. All we can do is pray that their parents have the good sense to keep them away from her and that she never has a son of her own to corrupt in such a manner. For all I know, she is a mother, but it’s certainly not worth wasting my time, or anyone else’s, researching that information.

    1. Well, actually, it was put together after discussing the matter extensively with dozens of male friends from different walks of life. I’m a mother to a daughter, so at least you can rest easy there. I’ve taught and coached many students in speech and debate, though, both male and female. Never once has a parent been afraid of the Big Bad Feminist brain-washing their children, but I HAVE had many a grateful parent thank me over the years. I’m still in touch with most of the kids.

      But thanks for making me giggle with your wild ass deductions. Man, some of these commenters are on fire with their comedy tonight!

    2. You may be right david…
      But there are situations which occur exactly as described above…

      I think that as better men, we should stay aware of any such deed and try to prevent it…

      I am not supporting anyone nor am i against anyone…

      But. WOMEN ARE NOT ITEMS….

      And lets face it, there exists a gender bias in today’s society, throughout the world…

      All I am saying is that if anything like this happens, we, as better men, should stop it…

      Regards & Well wishes !

  66. Reblogged this on Letters to November and commented:
    Our world today is a violent one. If we don’t educate our next generation properly and start changing our behavioural ways, we might be welcoming our extinction very soon. Real extinction. And moral extinction.

  67. Even as a woman it took me a long time to see the blatant sexism all around. I guess it’s like getting glasses, you don’t know your blind until you can see. It’s not surprising that men have a hard time recognizing it. It’s not a big event that happens, just a lot of little events, the guy at the store who looks a little to long, being called a bitch for not accepting a mans advance, getting ripped off at the auto shop, feeling like makeup is a must. ALWAYS feeling like you are too fat. Being expected to never age while men “get better with age” I read something about “the male gaze” and if you are a women I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Another great quote I read went something like. “We’re ignored and dismissed if not attractive enough and harasses for being to sexy” The change can only start with the next generation!

  68. Very well written piece.
    It’s sad that despite crying hoarse about all the overt sexism that happens in the world around us, most women don’t recognise the latent sexism every woman is subjected to. Like a passing derogatory remark, or insidious objectification.
    I’m going to reblog this piece. 🙂

  69. To me this illustrates how important context is. EVERYTHING to do with children requires context and explanation. For the sake of my thumbs I shall touch on only a few.

    Videogames. As a cisgendered male (and ok with it) I play video games a lot of them. Most are shooters. All are violent in some fashion. In the age of 8-bit gaming (early 90’s) my parents were quick to give me context letting me undetstand that video games are a fiction and actions undertaken in those games are not for real life. This is more important now than ever with the hyper realism in 21st century gaming. This also applys to media aswell.

    Gender roles.

    I understand them. I get pink and blue and toys for cis boys and cis girls. The reason I understand them is this. In 1985 gender was binary. There was no material on how to explain to a 4 year old what gender was except for that binary.

    Obviously things have changed.
    As a potential parent I have no idea how to explain gender. I know that sex is different. The physical bits and internal structure are remarkable and quite different. But gender. I’m lucky if I get half of the new gender discoveries that appear on almost a weekly basis. But I will stager on as best I can.

    Finally I am not sure about anything, the rules of being a cismale have changed so much I have stopped paying attention. I will treat people on a meeting by meeting basis. I will use “sir” and “ma’am” as gendered honourifics because I believe that it is polite to do so to strangers. I will refer to standard pronoun selection for my transgendered friends as they have instructed me to do so.

    I wil try and treat people justly. Thst is all I can do.

    Thanks for reading.

    P.s. forgive typos and grammar. As I am learning, 3 decades down and stil learning.

  70. First of all, I agree that this is how it happens, EVERY SINGLE TIME…
    What I would like to say, however, is that it is the responsibility of those who are not of the sort described above, to ACTUALLY BE A MAN !!!
    There is nothing manly in being a misogynistic devil.
    Those who think that masculinity and derision of women is one and the same are ignorant.
    Women ought to be respected and respect for women ought to be ingrained right from the start. And it is the responsibility of the non – misogynist men in the world to make sure that every man respects every woman.
    Consent is hers to give, Not his to snatch !!!!
    The misogynistic devils may be few or may be many….
    But. if every other man on this planet decides that no matter what, respect for women is essential and works accordingly, I think this behavioral anomaly can be remedied.
    These are only my thoughts and opinions…
    SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE…..

  71. This is intensely powerful. Thank you for writing it down and sharing it. One sentence sums it up perfectly for me – ‘And he learned that crying, and being not a man, was something less.’ This drives me insane. Even being called ‘one of the boys’ and being expected to gush with pleasure drives me insane. I am one of the girls, and no worse for it. #YesAllWomen
    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed and shared all around the world 🙂
    http://thoughtsandrainstorms.wordpress.com/

  72. My son is 5 and my daughter is 4 and all you have to do is watch them play to know that boys and girls are different. My son likes to run things over with his bulldozer and my daughter loves to play house with her dolls. Stereotypical gender roles. Is it ok if my daughter sets up her dolls to have a tea party and my son runs them over with his bulldozer? Of course not. Not because rough playing with his bulldozer is shameful or wrong but because it’s disrespectful to knock down his sister’s dolls. We can encourage our sons to be rough-n-tumble boys and teach them to be respectful of other people at the same time. It’s common sense and respect is at the core of this issue. Unfortunately, common sense becomes eroded the moment they leave our house. My son got the message in preschool that he shouldn’t cry in front of other kids. The tender little boy who cries at home freely tenses up like statue if he hurts himself on the playground. My daughter, who asks me a million questions a day is completely silent tight in class. They’re only in preschool!
    This discussion is important to me because even if my husband and I never send our kids the messages you wrote about (which is hard because as well intentioned as we are, we’re part of the problem too), we have the challenge of balancing what they learn everywhere else. It’s bad enough that most of us were taught the wrong definitions of masculinity and femininity but we continue to assign value to core traits that can’t and shouldn’t be compared. I try, but I know I contribute to this in subtle ways everyday.

  73. I thought the real gift was teaching both of my children that they could do whatever they wanted to do. Both had baby dolls. Both had cars and trucks. Both had art supplies, and dress up clothes they shared, and play swords and shields.
    Both learned to cook, clean, do their own laundry, how to keep a budget, how to think for themselves, how to treat everyone they meet decently. One went to culinary school for a time, the other went to art school and got a degree. One is married, one is not. Neither have children yet. Both are very good with babies, small children, animals. Both are excelling in their current careers.
    I have both a male and a female child. I won’t tell you which is which, because it doesn’t matter. They do not need a “gender role” to be decent people. Both are.

  74. Reblogged this on gotstufftosay and commented:
    Really makes you think. This is why we have the monsters we have roaming the streets. It’s not just because they were born this way but because they were taught to be this way! Hopefully that baby was a girl and he did learn something. Despite the fact that not ALL mean learn from having a little girl.

  75. As a woman, I have never felt like a victim in society. I have never felt that I am less capable than a man, or have fewer job opportunities, or am oppressed in any way. I wish feminists would quit telling women that we have to feel this way, because I’m perfectly happy as a woman in today’s society. Anyone can be (and is) sexualized; women, men, gay men, transgenders; a lot of people struggle, whether they are black, white, rich, or poor. That being said, I am aware of the struggles of women in the world who truly are oppressed by their governments, men, and their society. That is a different matter, and I find that completely unforgivable. However, as a white woman living in America (or most other developed countries), I don’t really feel like a “victim” of anything. Please stop telling me that everyone’s out to get me just because I’m a woman, because then I’ll start thinking it’s true, which I definitely had no reason to before.

  76. Well written. I love the progression of this piece. I have a daughter. I know how important it is to teach her self love and acceptance. Self-esteem is learned. All we can do is instill them with a strong sense of self, worth and family, and hope they carry that with them in to the world. (Both boys and girls)

  77. The type of responses you get from online dating really support the type of male behavior you are describing. I read an interesting article , posted on my blog, that talks about men don’t even read a woman’s thought out profile. They simply message, and message , not even paying attention to anything a girl says.

    This post was great.

  78. I LOVE this. The thing that, also, gets me is that SOME women still put these thoughts and learned behaviors in their sons’ minds or push these stereotypes and expect their daughters to live under these roles we’ve been given to play. My father had many of these same views and my mother never stepped in to say out loud or in action really that things should be different. I had to learn by experience in school and the work place how I viewed men and women in the world and how I wanted to be viewed.

  79. Very well written piece, though I disagree with some of it, I still think it was a well thought out work. I personally feel that while some aspects of what you shared certinatly takes place, it is also a bit of each persons personality. A similar essay could be written about girls growing up to hate men, or see them as simply tools for getting children and money.

  80. Amen to this! I’ve always loathe sexist approaches ever since I was a kid. Since I’m a girl, I sometimes got bullied for being such. It made me think for one blinding moment that being a girl isn’t something to be proud of and I’ve noticed numerous other females agree that being a man is “easier”. Where did these things start out anyway? Who had the right to start these “standards” concerning men and women when, in fact, we create our own delusions, our own social norms and beliefs.

  81. From a mother of a daughter, I thank you for the solid post. Indeed, the society is so sick that equality is overrated but not happening. If my girl grew up she should understand this and be wise, or maybe, be cautious?

  82. This is Why, as a mother I teach them every day to LOVE every living thing and see beauty in it & there is nothing wrong with crying. Human emotion is beautiful in every shape and form, it is a gift. We learn together about the struggles women have faced and how we can be part of the solution. Love this blog!

  83. My Chinese students believe girls do chores around the house and boys do not. My Asian friends want to have girls and not boys because “boys will only play while girls will help with the housework.” I have two boys and guess what? I make them help with chores and teach them that there are no “girl” jobs or “boy” jobs. There is only work and who is available to do it.

    You raise the biggest essential truth in combating sexism (or racism or anything else). It is not a society problem or a government problem. It all begins in the home. What are you teaching your kids?

  84. Could I please use this as a teaching resource for my sixth form students. It is so very powerful and apt. I continue to be shocked how passively accepting my female students are of the (what seems like) increase in “male dominance” in young people’s relationships today. It’s almost like sex equality has taken a massive step back.

    For instance when I am trying to explore the concepts and importance of feminism to my sociology students (who are 98% female), I find my self having to “role play” the bare mechanics of gender inequalities as a means of facilitating an understanding of why certain behaviours and actions should not be tolerated but yet feel (for the most part) that I’m hitting my head against a brick wall.

    Either way thanks for sharing

  85. We have to be so careful about what we do and say around our children, and the lesson’s we’re teaching them. Thank you for this wonderfully written piece on a topic that needs to be discussed – and acted upon.

  86. Reblogged this on Scarlet Rialto and commented:
    It’s unfortunately that many boys grow up in a well-lubed two gender society. Gender is oppressing and I wish we could move past this type of classifying each other.

  87. You are totally right. Males are brought up that way….making them realize at every point that they are superior somehow. The world will be equal for both men and women only when it is realized that….females are NOT JUST AN OPPOSITE SEX BUT A COMPLEMENTARY SEX.

  88. This was well written and relevant to today’s society. Who is the author? This is a powerful message, so I understand if they are trying to avoid repercussions. I still feel they should at least say as much if they aren’t going to provide their name.

  89. As a mother of 2 boys (20 and 21) and a daughter (16) I have to say it’s what they learn at home and how the parents handle difficult situations as these is what counts. I know we did right by them. My boys learned that women are to be respected and protected not only from me but from my husband as well. My daughter was raised to be competitive, opinionated and strong. I want a different life for her than I had. This still did not stop her rape when she was 13. The change is massive. But the way they respond is what any respectful person would do. Compassion, anger, not at her but at the boy and the parents who raised their child to see this as acceptable behavior. She still in there, my strong girl, and fortunate enough to have found an outstanding young man who can take it in stride. I guess my point is this, teach your boys. That you don’t touch anyone for any reason. No means no, even if you’re in the middle of sex. If she changes her mind that’s a no and to be respected. Have that talk. It will not only save the quality of their lives but of other people’s. As a side note I have to say my middle son really takes this to heart. He and his promised of 5 years were walking down the street. A “man” stopped at a light decided to catcall her. He went over to this man and adjusted his attitude. He won’t tell me what was said, but Abbey said that she found that amazing that he would stand up for her. That’s a MAN.

  90. I never felt comfortable in the boys club and have few male friends as as result. Only now do I see the cowardice in my act of rejection. Having left the battlefield I chose not to actively contribute to the elevation of women for which I and others like me should be ashamed.

  91. And all these toxic ideas wind up hurting boys and men as well as girls and women. Literally nobody benefits in any way from this crap. It’s just terrible, no matter which way you look at it. And it needs to go. And the only way it can go is if we raise our kids to think differently, as well as standing up and voicing our disapproval any time we encounter such backwards ideas about women and men.

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