I want to begin by saying that I believe in my heart of all hearts that a strive for gender equality must be a focus in parenting our children’s generation. We must teach our boys to respect our girls and our girls to respect our boys. There are mixed messages happening at an early age that need to be addressed, but I don’t think it’s a hashtag that’s causing all the trouble.
I believe that gender inequality affects both genders, not just girls. My son needs to feel comfortable being himself, and if that occasionally means identifying as masculine, that has to be okay. Just as it’s okay if he exhibits feminine qualities at times as well. It makes me extremely heart heavy that we can’t seem to have anything definitively masculine or definitively feminine anymore. You know the #boymom hashtag causing all the frenzy? I can’t help but notice that amidst all the fuss we’re overlooking the obvious–that the person tagging is a mom, a woman, and is also identifying herself as such. Is she anti-feminist since she’s a self-proclaimed mom? Why couldn’t she have chosen #boyparent? The desire to be perfectly PC in this particular situation has become so messy anymore that I’m baffled and confused, and I just wish we’d all take a breath of fresh air and calm down.
I wrote a controversial post regarding “Boys Will Be Boys,” and it was both a success and a fail. People either loved it or they hated it (and they weren’t afraid to show it). The ones who had negative things to say assumed I was writing off sins and crimes and absurdities and excusing them because of my child’s sex. When I wrote the post, I was referring more to dinosaur roars and mud, but the word boy somehow equated to something much more sinister.
As children, femininity is more acceptable. In fact, it’s the norm, while masculine traits tend to be the exception and are less tolerated. We often describe girls as being more intelligent, more mature, and early skill developers. How many times have you heard someone say “well, we all know boys mature way slower than girls”? This is the the identity we place on little boys. It starts early with sugar and spice and everything nice vs. snakes and snails and puppy dog tails.
There’s a change that happens somewhere in our children’s lives (I believe it’s at sexual maturation) when suddenly, that role does flip. Men get hired more frequently, are paid better, and our daughters suffer thousands of injustices as they grow up that boys don’t have to deal with. I was born and still am a girl. I have suffered these injustices firsthand, and I loathe that we live in a male-dominated world. But in a weird way, children live in a female-dominated world. I never noticed this inequality until I had a son, which is why I am here to defend #boymom. Because my son is a boy, and I am his mom and that just has to be okay to say. If he identified as a little girl, I would proudly hashtag #girlmom, but I’m tired of not being able to label anything at all because someone is getting their feelings hurt by it. The biggest disservice we can do to a child (in respect to gender) is to deny the gender that the child identifies with.
Saying things like “my kids are good artists,” or “I love parenting” is excellent. But it isn’t earth ending to say ‘my boys are good artists,” or “I love motherhood.” We are using basic identifiers. We’re not sending a message that girls can’t be good artists or that dads don’t love parenting. In my humble opinion, it’s a choice to hear the latter and it’s a choice to get mad about it.