In the wake of the Parkland shooting, a Time magazine article from December of last year (which feels like forever ago but is only two months) has been making the rounds again.
I haven’t read the article yet, but I’m already saying
“fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.”
Hours after I gave birth to my first child, my husband cradled all five pounds of our boy and said, gently, “Hi, Sweetpea.” Not “Buddy” or “Little Man.” Sweetpea. The word filled me with unanticipated comfort. Like most parents, we knew what we’d name our son but never discussed how we’d speak to him. I was witnessing my husband’s commitment to raising a sweet boy.
I’m surprised she even calls her husband a “husband”and doesn’t have a more gender neutral term for him.
There are so many angry men among us. There are angry women, too, but they’re only beginning to claim this emotion that has long been denied them. Women’s public anger delivers deliberate messages—it’s pussy hats, reclaiming our time, and #MeToo. It’s the kind of anger that gives girls voices. Men’s anger tries to shut down the voices of others. Today’s angriest women galvanize; today’s angriest men murder.
Girl anger is good. Boy anger is bad. We’re just going to ignore the demonization of boyhood, the suicide rate for boys is three times that of girls, that boys are falling behind in schools, that America is failing its boys. Being angry about that. Or more precisely, being angry about feeling that something is wrong and not knowing how to put your finger on it is bad.
The world has turned so upside down that the most public displays of masculine vulnerability have come lately from late-night comedy host Jimmy Kimmel, who’s shed tears talking about children’s healthcare and gun control. It feels like another century when President Obama wept while remembering the victims of Sandy Hook — a Brigadoon of political empathy not to return during the current administration.
Here we have another woman who doesn’t understand how men process emotion. All they know is that men don’t process it the same way as women and that is bad.
My son is now 5, and I’m also the mother of a 3-year-old girl. I’m thrilled that my daughter is growing up in a time where American girls are encouraged to be both fierce and kind, simultaneously strong and compassionate. The t-shirts that declare “Girls Rule the World” offer an empirical falsehood, but at least the aspiration is there. My daughter recently delighted me when she deemed her makeshift “kite” — a rainbow scarf tied to a stick — a fencing foil and ran about the woods parrying and proclaiming, “En garde!” But I delighted even more in my son when, at a birthday party where the balloon artist presumptuously twisted pneumatic swords for all the boys, my boy asked for a balloon heart.
She is proud that she is raising a strong daughter. She is proud that she is raising a weak son. This is the worst sort of woe feminism, hobbling a boy of out some perverted sense of equality.
Boys have always known they could do anything; all they had to do was look around at their presidents, religious leaders, professional athletes, at the statues that stand erect in big cities and small. Girls have always known they were allowed to feel anything — except anger. Now girls, led by women, are being told they can own righteous anger.Now they can feel what they want and be what they want.
“Boys have had it good for so long, I’m going to fix that by breaking my son emotionally. His sister, on the other hand, I will help succeed in every way.”
There’s no commensurate lesson for boys in our culture. While girls are encouraged to be not just ballerinas, but astronauts and coders, boys—who already know they can walk on the moon and dominate Silicon Valley—don’t receive explicit encouragement to fully access their emotions.
Fuck you. How’s that emotion? What does she know about fully accessing boy emotions? Nothing. A boy, a healthy boy gets mad or sad and fixes something, or goes for a run, or splits wood. We don’t sit around with our friends and cry. We turn our emotions into action.
I have a fight with my wife and I clean my truck. I get frustrated and I go to the gym. I once ripped the shelves out of a closet because I was pissed, then set about redoing it.
Male emotions can be constructive or destructive. Part of raising a boy is teaching him how to use those emotions for good. I don’t know what this woman is doing to her son, but it’s not good.
Boys are still snips and snails and puppy dog tails. We leave them behind from birth. Walk into any baby store, and you’re greeted immediately in the boys’ department by brown and neon green layettes festooned with sharks, trucks, and footballs. Onesies for newborns declare, “TOUGH LIKE DADDY.” The boy taught from infancy to be tough is emotionally doomed. (Mind you, I’m all for a onesie for any gender that announces, “RESILIENT LIKE MOMMY.”)
Oh for fuck’s sake. Tough like daddy is a good thing. I have battled cancer, and a compressed spinal disk. I get up, in pain, and go to work and do a job I am proud of to take care of my family. I fix the house, the car, and dinner. I’m the firs one up in the morning and the last one to bed at night. And if something goes bump in the dark, I’m the one with the flashlight and the 45 going to make sure everything is OK. I am dad, and that is my job. My hope is that one day my son will be that for his own family. That isn’t emotionally doomed.
The clothes marketed to my daughter feature unicorns, rainbows, rockets, dinosaurs, and sequins in every color imaginable. They are whimsical and sparkly. My son recently asked me, “Mom, why are girls’ clothes more interesting and beautiful than boys’ clothes, and was the person who decided that a man or a woman?”
This is the wokest five-ear old ever.
Yes, they’re merely clothes, but they’re the material in which we wrap our children. A society bombarding boys with symbolism about being tough, self-contained, non-sparkly and unmagical says, “Boys will be boys, but girls can be anything.”
Our boys absorb messages about what they cannot be or do or feel.
What the fuck is this woman talking about? She wants her son to have the option of being a weak and dependent emotional flop? Is that really what she wants. Some faggy* “poet” who can’t hold down a job at Starbucks?
*At this point, I want to clarify something. I’m not a homophobe. I don’t really care who people sleep with. I do use the term faggy because it has a certain connotation to me. I think the quote from Mean Girls is the most accurate description “Yeah, he’s almost too gay to function.” Think of the character of Jack from Will & Grace. He was so flamboyant and effete, he couldn’t hold down a job. It’s not even a function of being gay, once upon a time people may have used the word foppish to describe it. As best I can say, the word to me describes any male that abdicates his duties and responsibility as a man, but I wouldn’t insult women by calling him one of those.
It’s delivered by the dad in the elevator whom I watch chastise his 4-year-old son with, “Stop crying! Do you want your friends to think you’re a little baby?” Despite your lack of executive function, shut down your feelings, because kids make fun of a boy who cries.
I tell me son to stop crying – sometimes. I know when he is hurt or scared, and when he is making that annoying noise because he wants his way. I turned off his cartoon to put him in the bath and cry-whines. Nope, I’m not having any of that. That is part of teaching responsibility, sometimes you don’t get what you want but you have to do it anyway.
It’s emailed from the mother in my daughter’s nursery school class organizing a book swap, asking for “gender-neutral books” because some 3-year-old boys “wouldn’t be crazy about princess books.” All books aren’t for everyone; boys don’t like stories that might involve an XX protagonist.
Fuck you again. I’ve been bombarded by the “this is the first time I saw a super hero the looked like me” about Black Panther. I hear the same thing about every new Disney princess. I’m told we need diversity so that everyone can have a character they can relate to. Except the boys, fuck them, they have to like the princesses.
We don’t need to raise kids with gender neutrality or deny intrinsic differences between boys and girls. We do need to recognize that children, regardless of gender, harbor innate sweetness that we, as a society, would do well to foster and preserve.
She doesn’t want gender neutrality. She wants her boy to be a girl.
Sweet boys grow up to be men who recognize the strength in being vulnerable and empathetic.
Sweetness has nothing on how she is raising her son. I predict a lifetime of therapy and emotional problems. She has decided that everything about boyness is wrong and she is going to do it the opposite. I can’t imagine how that is going to play out in this poor boy’s head, other than “mommy hated me because I was a boy.”
Men who aren’t threatened by criticism or perceived competition from people whom they deem “Other” — be it skin color or sexual orientation or religion or education or whatever. Sweet boys are children who’ve been given, by their parents and wider society, the permission to feel everything and to express those emotions without shame.
So men are racist, sexist, and bigoted in their natural state? That’s not an anti-male message is it? Again, who says that boys don’t have permission to feel? The point of being a man is to put responsibility above emotion.
At a young age, this should be done explicitly, in organized forums for discussions at school. It must be done relentlessly and organically, in our family homes. Parents must invite their sons to be sad, afraid, hurt, silly and affectionate, and must embrace them as often as they snuggle their daughters. Sweet boys learn early on that they can defend themselves against loneliness by reaching out and asking for support rather than turning into people who, literally, grab for power. Sweet boys evolve into open-hearted men who aren’t confused about consent and sexual boundaries, because they experience women as equals. A man raised with access to the same gamut of emotions and choices as women does not say, “Women are special,” as Donald Trump recently averred after disbelieving Roy Moore’s accusers; he does not delegate sugar and spice and humility and gentleness to the ladies, while defining himself through anger, lust, and pride. Boys will not be merely boys. If we let them, boys will be human.
So boys are violent rapists unless we raise them to love pink hearts? That is clearly an insane position.
If we’re lucky, the sweet boys and the fierce girls will grow up to save us all.
She wants her son to be weak and her daughter to be strong. I can’t see this as anything other than she hates her son for being a boy. She believes everything terrible in the world is do to masculinity and she is going to stomp that out of her son.
I understand now why liberals have such a hard time condemning Muslim female genital mutilation. They secretly harbor a deep desire to turn their sons into eunuchs.
I may be going out on a limb here, but I don’t think this will make fewer school shooters but more of them. These boys will still have boy emotions, but they won’t know how to deal with them. They will still have boy desires but they will be crushed under the weight of terrible nurture.
One of the problems we see with boys is being raised by single mothers. The cure is not to raise the boys as girls but to teach them how to harness what they feel for good.
I’m not saying that her son will snap and become a school shooter. What I am saying is that if her son is ever involved in school shooting he will sweetly hid behind a wall and cry, while other boys raised right will hide their classmates behind Kevlar barricades.