We are taught from the beginning about pink princesses for girls and blue trucks for boys. Girls don’t play rough games like football. We associate women with household work and men at the office. It is us who are giving birth to gender stereotypes. But did you ever think of raising a ‘Feminist son?’
Teach him to care for himself and for others
We always teach our daughters to learn cooking, cleaning, basically all the household chores. But did your mother ever said to your brother “Beta aj khana tu bnaega. Varna tujhe ache biwi kaise milegi”.
If we expect from our daughters to work at office, we should also expect from sons to do household chores. Teach him to take care of family, give him household responsibilities. Start with a responsibility like taking care of a pet or younger sibling. Also, it’s not about taking care of others only but it is very important to pamper oneself.
Let him be himself
With the passing era, we Indians have moved towards the ‘modernisation’ and giving equal rights to girls regarding their ambitions- an engineer, astronaut, entrepreneur or you can be a tom boy and a ‘girlie’ girl. But did you ever say this to your son? Boys are discouraged from having interests that are ‘feminine’. They have to be tough everytime. Emotions like empathy, devotion, cooperation are often said to be related to females.
If you want an equitable society, we need give to the same choices to men as we give to women.
Let Him Cry
From a cradle to a toddler, we cried in the same amount irrespective of our gender. But around the age of 6-7, we have heard our Moms saying “Chup ho jayo beta..Ladke rote nahi hai, vo to strong hote hai.” (don’t cry son. Boys are strong, they don’t cry.)
But crying is an emotion. A boy should never be judged if he cries. Tony Porter, co-founder of an education and advocacy group said “Our daughters are allowed to be human beings and our sons are taught to be robotic.”
Teach ‘No means No’
Why and why do we always teach our daughters ‘to be careful.’
‘Don’t get molested or raped’
‘Don’t party late night, come inside before sunset.’
But we never teach our sons about respect and consent. We should teach them to ask a girl before touching her, from the beginning say pre-school. We should fit in their minds with “NO means NO”.
Encourage Friendship With Girls
It has been observed that by the end of pre-school, children start isolating by sex and this augments gender stereotypes.
But if we encourage them to play with opposite-sex then they will develop better understanding and problem-solving skills.
Whenever we organise a birthday party we tend to invite same gender because we might have to face an ‘awkward situation’ with our parents. This seclusion promotes sexism and gender stereotypes.
Our generation is so busy with ‘feminism’ that every individual is losing its uniqueness. Women are not created to do everything men can do. Women are created to do anything the men can’t do.
Teach boys to show strength- strength to express their emotions. Teach them to care for their family and show affection. Teach them to be tough- tough enough to stand intolerance. Give them confidence- to pursue their passion.
Illustrations by: Agnes Lee