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Any feminist mums want to chat about bringing up boys?

(66 Posts)
BunFagFreddie Thu 10-Jan-13 15:24:31

Hi there, I'm pretty new to the feminist section here, but I consider myself to be a feminist. I have no formal qualification in this sort of thing, so don't really know the correct jargon, but I did do my dissertation on mysoginy in advertising. So, forgive me if I'm a bit of a novice.

There are lots of threads on mums with DD's, but I'd like to chat about bringing up DS's. It seems that a lot of men with bad attitudes are brought up to think it's normal and acceptable. To an extent, parents should teach their son's to respect women.

I have one teenage DS and I would like to think he respects women. He's 14 and doesn't show much interest in girls so it's difficult to say. What do you do with your DS's to promote a healthy view on equality?

Pinkypoops Thu 17-Jan-13 14:31:15

So true, Sleepyhead! It´s a constant slog to try and pick up on every sexist idea they come home from school with and to have to contradict some of the nonsense their friends, teachers and friends´parents are feeding them.
Was so happy when a little foreign girl joined the 7 yr old class this year who runs faster than all but one of the boys (including my son who is a head taller than her-hah!) They were all completely gobsmacked! It appears none of the other girls want to participate in races or similar- they just aren´t interested. I remember clearly seeing one little girl in my DS´s class being chastised by her mother at age 4 for running around playing a boisterous game of catch. She was told, "Girls don´t play like that!" eye roll
It´s all about Hello Kitty and Monster High apparently, while the boys are all Skylanders and Ben10....woe betide any who would dare to cross the line :-(

rainbowrainbowrainbow Fri 18-Jan-13 20:30:08

Have you seen this site
Might be something you would like your DS to look at at some point. It's aimed at teenagers.
Would be interested on what you think of it. My DS is 12 so reaching the age where I feel a conversation of some kind about pornography and the porn industry should take place in the not too distant future

WilsonFrickett Fri 18-Jan-13 23:38:39

We have a very traditional set-up at home which I'm fine with, but I do worry what DS will take from that.

That said, a schoolgate mum said to me today after I was talking about the temperature in my home office (it gets cold cos DH sets up the iron their in the am and leaves the door open) 'Oh, does DH do his own ironing?' with such a look of surprise I actually felt quite fem-forward for once.

We both try hard to avoid the 'boys will be boys' chat and I teach 'if someone's not having fun you stop' all the time. That one is hard for DS as he has ASD and empathy is tricky for him but it's the biggie.

After a year at a very small country school I am still surprised at how gendered friendship groups are though. I don't know if that's the school, the fact it's tiny, or if our original school was just very un-gender based.

MmBovary Sat 19-Jan-13 00:02:30

I do agree with some of the comments made here about avoiding gender conditioning from an early age.

I honestly think that we, both men and women, don't do any favours to gender relations by treating girls as the "girly girls", "fairy creatures", or "pink princesses", something that we constantly see around us these days. Or, by the same token, treating boys as "naughty rascals", "boys will be boys", "loud and dirty" etc etc.

We should treat people as people, with their individual strengths and weaknesses, not because they were born male or female, but because they are human. All this gender stereotyping is very damaging in that sense, because it alienates the sexes from each other rather than bringing us together. It creates false identities which we have to adopt as our own all our lives and that, in most cases, do not correspond with the real us, our real selves.

My boys are quite little, so I haven't thought much yet about how I'm going to approach the internet porn talk, when that time eventually comes. But I hope that they've opened their eyes to the way they are treated, and that if they're treated with love and respect, as real human beings, not creatures taken from some crass fairy tale, that they're going to treat other people - girls included- in the same way too.

WilsonFrickett Sat 19-Jan-13 09:23:24

Internet porn talk just made me remember something. We had had an internet safety talk at school last term and the presenter opened with 'believe it or not, boys are just as at risk from dangers on the internet as girls, it's 50/50' (erm, yeah, I do believe it) and then went on to use female pronoun exclusively throughout the talk. Of the videos he showed, only one featured a boy as a victim too.

We have to remember boy children are equally at risk from dangerous behaviours when using the internet and also that porn damages boys as much as girls imo. I think that's a very important strand of feminist boy parenting. There's a risk of setting up a 'boys as agressors' culture.

(not criticising your post MmeB, it just made me remember. And I do believe the reason there is so much porn is mainly down to men. But we don't have to automatically assume our boys will tread that path).

Andro Sat 19-Jan-13 16:07:02

I think DS has a reasonably good example at home as DH and I both have an interesting mix of likes/hobbies/interests. He doesn't assume, he asks questions (about EVERYTHING).

That said, I did get somewhat annoyed when an ultra feminist friend told me I was setting a bad example about gender stereotypes because of some of my interests. I cook, I bake and I do cross-stitch. I enjoy all three and I'll be dammed if I'm giving them up because they're too 'feminine'.

I think the most important lesson we, as parents, can teach, is that everyone is unique and should be respected as individuals - not crammed into pigeon holes!

tourdefrance Tue 22-Jan-13 20:37:16

2 boys here aged 2 and 5. Marking my place. Lots of really interesting comments so far. Reading Topsy and Tim go to the doctors today, ds1 said - that doesn't look like a doctor mummy, it's a lady. Argh!!

RubyrooUK Tue 22-Jan-13 20:53:01

I have a boy and about to have another one.

I suppose my main thing is bringing them up to be decent human beings. I want them to respect other people full stop and be sensitive and caring, enjoying friendships with both genders.

My DS is too young to talk too overtly about male/female relationships etc. But his dad and I share everything in the household and are both extremely affectionate people. So I hope DS' impression will be that both men and women do much the same things and both can express their feelings.

In our house we both work full time and I hope this will also add to the general picture that women and men can do much the same things.

I suppose my main fears are that my two boys will have to suppress their feelings as this is "male" - my brother was very unhappy when young as he was sensitive and didn't fit in with the boys at his school. (Ironically he is a very happy adult with a very happy life now and a very long term relationship.)

And I also worry about violence. I read a lot on Mumsnet about domestic violence but I can hardly think of any of my male friends who have not at some point been beaten up on nights out etc simply walking down the street. They all seem to think this is just part of growing up. So this scares me a bit too as few people seem to talk about how awful it is that young men just expect to be beaten up and get on with life.

Er, there's probably more but I can't think of it right now.

Yes please.

I have two DC - a girl and a boy. They are still very little but I'm trying to bring them both up to treat everyone with kindness and respect.

Regarding the focus of this thread, I'm lucky in that DH is a very active, hands on dad who does his fair share. I also have great female and male role models around (for example, grandmother working past retirement in senior role, grandfather retired and in sole charge of housekeeping).

I'm also trying to ensure both children take an equal role in household chores. I love my MIL to bits but she didn't do anyone any favours by continuing to do her son's laundry well into his twenties.

Has anyone read Jenni Murray's book 'That's my boy?'. I got it for Christmas and finding it useful to help articulate my thoughts.

Just re read NotForTurnings post about the use of the word 'lucky' in the context of a 'hands on dad'.

I totally agree, and I did think twice before using it, however I do still feel lucky. My choice to use it is reflective of an unequal society. I have friends whose DHs have never changed a nappy. Not a single one.

I do draw the line at DHs who 'help out'. On what planet is looking after your own children 'helping out'?

tourdefrance Sat 26-Jan-13 19:22:25

I would say my dp is a great role model in many ways for our boys. They see him cooking, cleaning, ironing, vacuuming. But they don't see me fixing things, mowing the lawn, washing the car etc as he does all those things too.
And he leaves the house early most days to go to work but I do most of the drop offs and pick ups so ds1 thinks that's what daddy's do.
I picked ds2 up from nursery this week and he was tottering around in high heels from the dressing up box and had been all afternoon. Our dressing up boat home has a doctors outfit, knights and various animals but of course no princess costume. If I had a girl I'd probably have been given one at some point but of course notfor boys.

Dp picked up ds1 from school this week. It turned out he didn't know where to go as he had only ever picked up from after school club since September.

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Sat 26-Jan-13 22:12:36

I worry a bit about ds exposure to men & male role models. He sees me helped by a range of female carers & nannies (am disabled nowadays), & not even many male friends now either, so worry that ds is going to be v confused growing up - cant model himself on me OR feckless chauvinist father either, nor carers etc. I wonder who he can
Identify with?

FrancescaRS Sun 21-Jul-13 21:45:30

Hi there, I have a son and a daughter and thinking about all this stuff too. I found the really helpful. If you have a moment, you might be interested in my blog

duchesse Sun 21-Jul-13 21:53:48

I have one 20 yo DS who is not a chauvinist but IS very lazy. It is hard sometimes to get him motivated do anythign around the house, and this despite the fact that he sees DH (his father) doing everything in equal measures (sometimes more than me as DH does all the stuff that I would cut my hands off doing). We don't have any male/female roles at all- all the shit day to day chores are done by both (all of us when the teens don't have exams) of us and everything else divvied up according to personal ability and preference (eg DIY is DH, garden is usually me inc mowing etc). Can maintenance is both of us.

BUT DS still does as little as he can get away with, usually rather less than his sisters. That is because he is a lazy toerag, not because he's a MCP. It's hard to tackle. He will do things, he does do things, but he almost never does them spontaneously and needs multiple reminders if he's to do something. It is very frustrating and since I only have one son I don't know if it's normal. I'm pleased to report that he has been horrified by the housekeeping standards of his housemates at university and actually tried to get them interested in a rota but they all seem to think there's a housework fairy it doesn't need doing.

Boosterseat Mon 22-Jul-13 15:42:56

DH and I have had to do some serious counter action as my DD and DSM pedal the dreaded blue jobs/pink jobs theory at DS all the time (I have repeatedly requested they stop it) but luckily at 8 DS laughs at "the oldies"

I had a seriously proud moment the other week when my DD unceremoniously plonked his cricket whites down and told my DSM they needed washing, DS stood up grabbed by DDs hand and proceeded to show him exactly how to the use the washing machine along with this sage advice "Just because you are a man does not make your clothes immune from dirt Grandad, just put the damn machine on once in a while asking Nana to do it makes you look a bit thick"

I very nearly called him up on the damn, but I couldn't bring myself to do it.

DS sees mum catch spiders and his DSD cry at Wall-e we try to be as balanced as we can be and talk to him about other people's beliefs and attitudes and encourage him to be respectful, open minded and kind.

It's great to see there are loads of other parents bringing up kids without the usual gender stereotypes, hopefully if it continues within the next generation we can start to see some real change.

FreedomOfTheTess Sun 28-Jul-13 11:48:49

I'd like to think I won't raise my sons any differently to my daughters. I want all four of them to believe in gender equality from BOTH sides.

DD1 is 3-years old, she was playing with DS2 (7), and my friend's children (son, 5 and daughter, 4), they were playing hospitals. My friend's DS wanted to be a nurse, to which my daughter said, "boys can't be nurses."

I put her right straight away, as I would if either of my sons said, "girls can't be doctors/builders/whatever."

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