An Interesting Lesson

Originally posted on September 29, 2011

The Frisky recently featured an article about teaching boys to be feminists. From the article:

A couple of years ago, I recall a conversation I had with my 13-year-old nephew who is quite intelligent and a bit beyond his years. He was saying that he and his friends had had a discussion about who had it easier, men or women. They decided that women did for various reasons. A huge conversation ensued, as you can imagine, with my nephew, his mother, his grandmother and grandfather, and me. I think decidedly, by the end of the talk, we might have changed his mind! But it was a great moment to have an intelligent discussion about gender and what it means to be male or female in today’s world.

The author later states:

There are plenty of adult men out there who support women’s rights and work equally as hard to continue to make sure that girls and minorities are at the forefront of the discourse about equal rights. The question is, are we raising boys who are sensitive to inequity, critical thinkers, and culturally aware?

Apparently not, so the author provides a list of things people should teach boys:

As a young boy:

  • Teach them it’s okay to be emotional and that holding feelings in is not what being a man is about.
  • Become media literate so that they can become aware of how gender is portrayed in terms of what they are seeing and hearing. When a boy sees an ad or a TV show in which stereotypes are present, make sure you point it out.
  • Teach them that there is more to a girl than what she looks like. Discuss famous women who have done and are doing important things.
  • Make play dates in which there are boys and girls to play with. Making friends with girls can be an important part of how they will perceive women.
  • Introduce them to female characters through books, movies, etc. Research shows that a majority of these characters are male, so it will be up to you to provide a variety.

As a young man:

  • Teach them that “feminism” means promoting women’s rights and interests.
  • Discuss how being a feminist does not mean women hate men or that women think men are the enemy.
  • Teach them that by taking a role in feminism they will be helping everyone, not just women.
  • Teach them that because they are at the top of society’s hierarchy, they have a responsibility and an ability to be part of social change and justice for everyone.
  • Simply talk to them and use probing questions when teachable moments arise. Allow them to reach their own conclusions.

Right…

Feminism means promoting women’s rights and interests, that much is true. Between the two list,  only the first item in the first list mentions of men’s rights and interests. Everything focuses solely on women’s interests. However, the notion that feminism does not mean women hate men and think men are the enemy does not hold water when the proceeding items claim that men essentially have it better and easier than women in society.

Likewise, it is perplexing to claim feminism is about helping everyone when nothing on the list really addresses the problems boys and men face. Nothing about unfair expectations placed on men by women and society, nothing about showing there is more to boys than their looks or social status, nothing about teaching boys to value their relationships with other boys and men, nothing about introducing boys to positive male characters.

Some of the items on the list are good advice, but most of them simply teach boys to overvalue females and to ignore the problems that affects boys and men. At best, boys will fail to notice or understand their own problems. At worst, boys learn to hate themselves and other males.

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16 thoughts on “An Interesting Lesson

  1. They have control of the state schools…and we in the MRM have control of the net.

    When that 13-year-old nephew gets a little older, and starts to become disillusion with the propaganda he was fed, we’ll be waiting…and we’ll give him the truth.

  2. In one breath she writes “. . . they are at the top of society’s hierarchy . . . .” In the next: “Allow them to reach their own conclusions.”

    Right. Let the boy come to his own conclusions, after he’s told he is undeservedly privileged, that he belongs to a gender that oppresses women, and that he needs to learn to rise above the evilness of his fellow males and be fair to women.

    Yep. A a sure-fire to build a child’s self-esteem.

  3. If I had a son and she offered to “Teach” him about being a feminist, I wouldn’t want her within 10 yards of him.

  4. Sounds like an updated version of “ladies first.” And “don’t hit girls” implies it’s OK for girls to hit boys. They expect that boys will hit each other.

  5. “Sounds like an updated version of “ladies first.” ”

    Ah, but with a critical distinction, my friend.

    In the old version, a woman needed to act like a lady in order to qualify for ‘ladies first’ treatment. But that was too burdensome and stifling a demand for today’s empowered women.

    In the new version? A woman is entitled to ‘ladies first’ treatment even if she’s passed-out, topless and covered in her own vomit on the men’s room floor while clutching a crack pipe in one hand and an empty bottle of Wild Turkey in the other.

    What I appreciate about articles like the one mentioned up top is that they drop all pretenses that feminism is about “equality” rather than advocacy for “women’s interests” in which women must always be pushing for gains and grabbing goodies, “equality” be tossed by the wayside at convenience. Most feminists usually aren’t so honest about their true actions.

  6. Right. Let the boy come to his own conclusions, after he’s told he is undeservedly privileged, that he belongs to a gender that oppresses women, and that he needs to learn to rise above the evilness of his fellow males and be fair to women.

    It reminds me of one of my favorite moments from the Matrix. Neo asks what the truth is about the Matrix, and Morpheus says, “That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage, born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison for your mind. Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.”

  7. Raising a boy to be a critical thinker should, presumably, include an ability to think critically about feminism.

    It would allow him to ask questions like: How is presuming guilt upon one sex and ONLY one sex not blatantly at odds with an ethic of anti-sexism?

    Or how is it that advancing the interests of only one sex is correct when Sex A does it, but it’s wrong and evil and discriminatory when Sex B does it?

    But those are the WRONG TYPE of critical questions to ask and the author clearly doesn’t mean that sort of thing.

  8. I’m most troubled by the notion of telling boys “that because they are at the top of society’s hierarchy, they have a responsibility and an ability to be part of social change and justice for everyone,” and not just because most boys are not and never will be anywhere near such a position. If the boy is low in his social hierarchy and frequently suffers for it-he’s bullied a lot at school, for instance- lecturing him about his supposed power and his “responsibility” to others is frankly sadistic.

  9. If the boy is low in his social hierarchy and frequently suffers for it-he’s bullied a lot at school, for instance- lecturing him about his supposed power and his “responsibility” to others is frankly sadistic.

    I imagine the author never thought of that, although she might argue that in comparison to girls of the same status that boy does have power.

  10. Toysoldier: “I imagine the author never thought of that, although she might argue that in comparison to girls of the same status that boy does have power.”

    Then she’s obviously gynocentric if that’s her position.

    It’s just unbeliveable that people like her can disguise their contempt for the opposite sex under false plattitudes of justice. At least the radical fringe of feminism is honest in their bigotry.

  11. It’s just unbeliveable that people like her can disguise their contempt for the opposite sex under false plattitudes of justice. At least the radical fringe of feminism is honest in their bigotry.

    I do not know if the author has contempt for males, but it certainly seems that she thinks they have the better deal.

  12. And if a boy’s critical thinking leads him to believe that women have the better deal, he is to be set STRAIGHT immediately.

    So the author only believes in critical thinking so long as The anwers come out the right way.

  13. I find it saddening that a boy of thirteen – of thirteen, no less! – has already come, for whatever reason, to the conclusion that “…Girls have it better”… and the first thought this triggers in his Feminist aunt is not “How did he get here?” but rather, “How do I correct his non-Feminist thinking?”

  14. TS- I did find this post interesting when you first put it up.

    Encouraging boys to be ‘critical thinkers’ by telling them what conclusions they should always uncritically reach, regardless of what the facts say. Love the pure doublethink. I never appreciated Orwell until I started seeing the feminist genre.

  15. Why is a female telling a young boy what it means to be a man? If she herself was critical teaching her son what it means to be a man, she would find a male role model. Also, If she wanted to create a “critical thinker”, she would critically assess feminism and what is means to be a feminist in today’s world. From the individuals I have spoken to who see themselves as contemporary feminists, they would be people I stay clear from, especially with children around.

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