Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

23 February 2008

Feminism is good for boys & men

I vividly recall being in a meeting maybe six years ago trying to figure out what committees should exist for a feminist group. There was the usual call for a "diversity" committee, but I said that we needed a men's issues committee instead. I was quickly yelled down by a few key leaders of said group.

So when I read Jeff's post at Shakesville about gender and boys, I said a little thank you to the Goddess! Thank you for showing me another sign that I wasn't insane for suggesting that feminists reach out to men in an attempt to bring down the patriarchy, to find new/more partners in our fight for reproductive freedom, and to end gender roles in society.

That "acceptable femininity" has expanded in scope is unquestionably a good thing, and while we're not there yet, one can see the day coming when girls are considered girls simply for being girls, no matter their dress, interests, hair length, or sexual orientation.

The same cannot be said for boys. Boys are still, to large extent, expected to fit into a very narrow range of "acceptable masculinity." Boys are supposed to like sports, rasslin', "kinetic activities." They're supposed to show toughness, supposed to show little interest in emotion or caring for others. Quite simply, boys are supposed to be boys, and any boy who dares step outside that box is going to be called a girl or a homosexual, not just by his peers, but likely by his own parents.

The quote from Orenstein is heartbreakingly accurate: boys are as likely to want to play at parenthood as girls are to want to kick a ball. Boys are as likely to want to read quietly as girls are to roughhouse. Boys are, quite simply, no more likely to "be boys" as girls are to "be girls."

But while we as a society have recognized that girls can and should want to be made of more than sugar and spice and everything nice, boys are still supposed to be all snips and snails and puppy dogs' tails. That this is a problem for boys is obvious; that this is a problem for girls should be.
Thanks Jeff.

Technorati tags: gender, boys, tagname, girls, Shakesville

1 comments:

To some degree I agree with Jeff. However, I can tell you my two boys had very little desire to play house (though they had a play kitchen and stroller), but much enthusiasm for throwing objects, jumping in puddles, running, wrestling, and other physical play.

As a mom to two boys, I've found there is more truth to the whole "boys will be boys" maxim than I ever would have believed as a young feminist.