It’s an interesting world, having two sons. Luckily with my boys I have the opportunity to influence how they treat girls, talk about girls, and act in
the presence of girls. On the heels of certain repulsive statements by he-who-shall-not-be-named (when he goes low, we shall go high), I think it’s more important than ever to realize that building a respect for girls and women starts with boys. Here are a few things I hope to teach my young boys about girls, directly or indirectly, as they grow into men.
- If I ever tell them they “Throw like a girl,” it’ll be the highest of compliments because guess what, mommy can throw. Their aunts can throw. Their Gramma can throw.
- Girls aren’t delicate. Well, maybe sometimes but no more than boys are. Everyone has their insecurities and weaknesses, and that’s human. Girls are tough and ballsy too.
- Girls are cool and fun. Girls can build a fort and roll around in the dirt. Girls just might headlock you and make you say uncle then outsmart you in the blink of an eye – it’s not an intelligent boy who underestimates girls.
- Girls don’t exist for your daydreaming pleasure. Girls are important individuals, not objects. Without one particular girl who turned into a woman, you wouldn’t be here.
- Talk about girls like you’d talk about your mother. If you wouldn’t call your mother a bitch, don’t call a girl that word. If you wouldn’t stand for another boy to call me that, don’t stand for another boy to call another girl that.
- Stand up for girls, but don’t assume a girl needs protecting.
- Be vulnerable like Dad. Understand that vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness. When you see vulnerability in other boys or girls, applaud it, don’t exploit it.
- Be the kind of boy girls can trust. That trust needs to be earned; prove yourself as trustworthy on a daily basis by acting with integrity.
- Don’t be a gentleman. Just be a rational, humble, kind, gentle boy. Don’t patronize. Pay attention to how girls react to your words and actions. It’ll tell you a lot about yourself.
- This world doesn’t revolve around you and your gender. Period. All gender identities are equal.
- At times, there will be pressure to be strong, aggressive, powerful. Be these things if they come naturally; otherwise, screw it. Be yourself, whatever that looks like. If you notice a girl with traits traditionally applied to boys – maybe she’s strong, aggressive, powerful – roll with it and enjoy it. I hope this reaction becomes instinctual as you grow and learn.
- Girls are powerful beyond measure; one day a girl may run your show if you’re lucky.
- What you do and say when you think no one is watching is what defines character. Be the kind of boy with character to be proud of.