How to challenge extreme masculinity and raise a feminist son

 To anyone who wants to raise children who are kind, confident and free to pursue their dreams:

The world needs more positive masculinity. Men who are honest and gentle and understanding. Men who listen, who know that strength used selfishly is weakness. Men who collaborate and uplift. Men who aren't afraid to acknowledge failure. Masculinity doesn't have to be toxic.

We raise our girls to fight stereotypes and pursue their dreams, but we don’t do the same for our boys.

"That’s because women’s roles can’t expand if men’s don’t, too. But it’s not just about women. Skills like cooperation, empathy and diligence — often considered to be feminine — are increasingly valued in modern-day work and school, and jobs that require these skills are the fastest-growing."

"Raising a son this way isn’t just about telling boys what not to do, or about erasing gender differences altogether. For instance, all male mammals engage in rough-and-tumble play. So roughhouse, crack jokes, watch sports, climb trees, build campfires.

Teach boys to show strength — the strength to acknowledge their emotions. Teach them to provide for their families — by caring for them. Show them how to be tough — tough enough to stand up to intolerance. Give them confidence — to pursue whatever they’re passionate about."

Also, MEN: I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that you stand up to your friends who are shitty toward women and/or cease associating with them.

"Underlying all these is a lack of empathy, a will to dominate, and an entitlement to control, harm and even take the lives of others. Though there is a good argument that mental illness is not a sufficient explanation – and most mentally ill people are nonviolent – mass shooters and rapists seem to have a lack of empathy so extreme it constitutes a psychological disorder. At this point in history, it seems to be not just a defect from birth, but a characteristic many men are instilled with by the culture around them. It seems to be the precondition for causing horrific suffering and taking pleasure in it as a sign of one’s own power and superiority, in regarding others as worthless, as yours to harm or eliminate.

"That powerlessness of others seems to be desired and relished in these cases. It’s time to talk about the fact that many men seem erotically excited by their ability to punish, humiliate, inflict pain on women."

Or perhaps it’s an extreme version of masculinity that has always been with us in a culture that gives men more power and privilege than women; perhaps these acts are the result of taking that to its logical conclusion. There must be terrible loneliness in that failure to perceive or value the humanity of others, the failure of empathy and imagination, to consider oneself the only person who matters. Caring about others, empathising, loving them, liberates each of us; these bereft figures seem to be prisoners of their selfishness before they are punishers of others."

“[Kids] are going to find [porn]… and it’s going to influence their perceptions about sexuality and gender roles. So, if parents talk to their children before or during this time of discovery, they can help them think more analytically and critically about the images they are seeing.” Erotic filmmaker Erika Lust just launched The Porn Conversation, a nonprofit initiative that helps parents talk to their kids about porn.

Angeliki KapoglouComment