I am the mother of sons. Two boys who amaze me, wear me out, fill me back up and spin me round and round every day.
They are funny, sweet, sensitive, oblivious, aware and energetic. Unless they aren’t.
I am very impressed with the services and sensitivities we as a community are setting up to help girls navigate the world, media, pressures and societal messaging. I don't dispute the data on inequality. I am genuinely glad those programs are there.
But I can’t help but wonder about my boys. Where is the dialogue about their self worth? Where is the outrage about the way media misshapes their health and esteem? Sometimes I feel like my boys are expected to fend for themselves in a landscape that is increasingly loud, confusing and sometimes hostile to boys, as well as girls and the gender-spectrum between.
Some of the most progressive people I know still use language like “Such a boy” to reflect naughty behavior. Or make jokes about protecting their daughters from my lady-killers. And my sons wonder what their friends will need to be protected from. They wonder what they have already done wrong.
I wonder when it will become as socially unacceptable to make boy comments as it is to say “you (throw, run, cry) like a girl.” Why are we still presuming, expecting or judging based on gender? Still?
I do believe that people are different. I believe they are unique. I believe that many of the generalizations are rooted in some truth, but not in any sort of entirety. And I firmly believe that using any of those flimsy generalizations as a way to determine value or goodness or ability is destructive to us all.
So even though we live in a loud, loud world, I hope my boys hear this message like a bell: you are good. You are great. Your energy is not bad. Your life is yours to determine. Thanks for allowing me the honor of being the mother of brothers. I hope the world believes in you as much as I do.