I was with a large group of women this morning, and a lovely young woman told a “funny story” about her experience at Easter. She said –
I had to get the Easter candy while my daughter was there, so I just told her that the Easter Bunny is a boy, and boys never remember to get things done, so I had to do it for him. (Big laugh.) When my daughter got to Grandma’s, she told everyone “We had to get the candy, because boys never remember anything”. (Big laugh.)
Really? Is this really what we want to teach our daughters? Our sons? Our grandsons? That boys are incompetent?
Perhaps I am sensitive about this, because I have a wonderful, sensitive, strong and capable son, as well as a wonderful, sensitive, strong and capable daughter. My son is reliable, thoughtful and kind. He gets things done – I would trust him with my life. Just as I would my daughter.
And I have three grandsons. My oldest grandson, who is 5, is a thoughtful asker of meaningful questions. He is sensitive, and he worries sometimes. I am so glad he wasn’t in attendance when the general inferiority and lack of trustworthiness of men and boys was announced and publicly reinforced.
Equality is important to me, for our culture, for the future of our children. It’s important for my dear granddaughter, who, at 7, is smart, sensitive and tries her best. She’s amazing. It’s important for my dear grandsons, who are smart, sensitive and try their best. They’re amazing too.
You may believe that children are too young to notice those kinds of negative judgements, but they are not. Little ones internalize the impact of statements, even when they are bewildered by them. In fact, research shows that the youngest children have the most negative brain impact from negative experiences.
So, here’s the thing. If you would never say “Boys rule, girls drool,” then for heaven’s sake don’t say “Girls rule, boys drool.” If you would be outraged by a man who “jokes” that women are silly airheads who have to be taken care of by men, then be outraged by women who “joke” that men are irresponsible buffoons who have to be taken care of by women. We’ve all experienced that kind of “humor” before. It does not feel funny to be the butt of the joke.
Women and men come in all kinds and shapes. Some are good, and, frankly, some are not. Some are responsible and focused, some are selfish and lazy. Some are irrational and controlling, some are caring and supportive. And you can’t know ‘who’ will be ‘what’, simply by knowing their gender!
Our children are our treasure. No matter what, girls and boys matter. All of them! Not one, not the other – both. They must be nurtured to become smart and strong and sensitive and powerful. That’s our job as adults.
All children deserve our love and support, and our best hopes for their futures. They deserve the very best we have to give them. And making fun of boys and the men they will become, or of girls and the women they will become, is NOT giving them our best.
Help them see their worth, and also the worth of others. Teach them be proud of who they are, and who they will become.