What It Means To Raise Boys And Girls The Same

What It Means To Raise Boys And Girls The Same

Their personalities matter more than their gender

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The year is now 2019. Gender equality has come a long way, but there is still progress to be made on both ends. Both men and women face prejudice and discrimination when assumptions are made about them based on their gender.

"Raise Boys and Girls the Same" is a popular saying and T-shirt slogan that has been circulating for as long as I can remember now. The premise is simple; boys and girls should not be treated differently from one another, especially not in the same family, simply based on their gender. Opponents of this idea, however, may claim that it is impractical to treat boys and girls the same because they're not the same. Some who are parents insist that boys naturally seem to gravitate towards the rough and more rowdy activities, while girls seem to naturally like more feminine activities.

Others say that it is subconscious societal influence on children that created such large gender dichotomies. For example, marketing that pushes girls towards dolls and boys towards legos, or parents that unconsciously encourage their girls to be more expressive with their emotions than boys.

Some psychological studies have supported the former view, while others have supported the latter.

However, I've never thought that the nature vs nurture debate in this case is as important as people make it out to be. Why? Because by and large, whether or not the differences exhibited by young children are natural or subconsciously taught, men and women still have more in common than not. We're all human, not species from different planets trying to understand one another. And it is a disservice to humankind to act like we are.

I've heard stories, sometimes heartbreaking, of boys who could never form bonds or relationships with their parents because they didn't behave enough "like a man", or didn't have the interests/hobbies their parents had assigned to them before birth based solely on their genitals. Or girls with parents who never respected or trusted them as much as they did their brothers.

A couple years ago, I was spending time with two friends (both male) and we somehow got on the subject of whether or not we were having children. One friend stated that he would prefer to have a boy over a girl, saying that he wanted to have someone he could teach how to play ball.

And I couldn't help wondering, is there any reason you couldn't do that with a girl? What if this friend ended up with a boy who hated sports and a girl who just wanted to spend time throwing a baseball around with her dad?

The problem with having a preconceived notion of how you should raise a child based on their gender is that every child, just like every person, is not exactly the same. Children should be raised to nurture the interests they have already have, not be pushed towards one thing or another based on their gender. If that means you end up with a boy who likes pink dolls and a girl who likes trucks, what's wrong with that? On the flipside, if it means a boy who loves sports and a girl who adores making bead necklaces and arts and crafts, there's nothing wrong with that either.

Raising boys and girls the same way means giving them the same amount of respect and consideration. It means not telling your 10-year old son that he's not allowed to cry because he's a man, while being fine with his teen sister crying her heart out. It means not telling your daughter that it's weird to wear certain clothes because she's a girl.

That's what it means to raise boys and girls the same. Masculinity and femininity are both traits that should be given an equal amount of respect. There is no set amount of masculinity that makes someone a "real man" just like there is no set amount of femininity that makes someone a "real woman." Some men are more feminine and some women are more masculine, and that's just the way it is.

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An Open Letter To Democrats From A Millennial Republican

Why being a Republican doesn't mean I'm inhuman.
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Dear Democrats,

I have a few things to say to you — all of you.

You probably don't know me. But you think you do. Because I am a Republican.

Gasp. Shock. Horror. The usual. I know it all. I hear it every time I come out of the conservative closet here at my liberal arts university.

SEE ALSO: What I Mean When I Say I'm A Young Republican

“You're a Republican?" people ask, saying the word in the same tone that Draco Malfoy says “Mudblood."

I know that not all Democrats feel about Republicans this way. Honestly, I can't even say for certain that most of them do. But in my experience, saying you're a Republican on a liberal college campus has the same effect as telling someone you're a child molester.

You see, in this day and age, with leaders of the Republican Party standing up and spouting unfortunately ridiculous phrases like “build a wall," and standing next to Kim Davis in Kentucky after her release, we Republicans are given an extreme stereotype. If you're a Republican, you're a bigot. You don't believe in marriage equality. You don't believe in racial equality. You don't believe in a woman's right to choose. You're extremely religious and want to impose it on everyone else.

Unfortunately, stereotypes are rooted in truth. There are some people out there who really do think these things and feel this way. And it makes me mad. The far right is so far right that they make the rest of us look bad. They make sure we aren't heard. Plenty of us are fed up with their theatrics and extremism.

For those of us brave enough to wear the title “Republican" in this day and age, as millennials, it's different. Many of us don't agree with these brash ideas. I'd even go as far as to say that most of us don't feel this way.

For me personally, being a Republican doesn't even mean that I automatically vote red.

When people ask me to describe my political views, I usually put it pretty simply. “Conservative, but with liberal social views."

“Oh," they say, “so you're a libertarian."

“Sure," I say. But that's the thing. I'm not really a libertarian.

Here's what I believe:

I believe in marriage equality. I believe in feminism. I believe in racial equality. I don't want to defund Planned Parenthood. I believe in birth control. I believe in a woman's right to choose. I believe in welfare. I believe more funds should be allocated to the public school system.

Then what's the problem? Obviously, I'm a Democrat then, right?

Wrong. Because I have other beliefs too.

Yes, I believe in the right to choose — but I'd always hope that unless a pregnancy would result in the bodily harm of the woman, that she would choose life. I believe in welfare, but I also believe that our current system is broken — there are people who don't need it receiving it, and others who need it that cannot access it.

I believe in capitalism. I believe in the right to keep and bear arms, because I believe we have a people crisis on our hands, not a gun crisis. Contrary to popular opinion, I do believe in science. I don't believe in charter schools. I believe in privatizing as many things as possible. I don't believe in Obamacare.

Obviously, there are other topics on the table. But, generally speaking, these are the types of things we millennial Republicans get flack for. And while it is OK to disagree on political beliefs, and even healthy, it is NOT OK to make snap judgments about me as a person. Identifying as a Republican does not mean I am the same as Donald Trump.

Just because I am a Republican, does not mean you know everything about me. That does not give you the right to make assumptions about who I am as a person. It is not OK for you to group me with my stereotype or condemn me for what I feel and believe. And for a party that prides itself on being so open-minded, it shocks me that many of you would be so judgmental.

So I ask you to please, please, please reexamine how you view Republicans. Chances are, you're missing some extremely important details. If you only hang out with people who belong to your own party, chances are you're missing out on great people. Because, despite what everyone believes, we are not our stereotype.

Sincerely,

A millennial Republican

Cover Image Credit: NEWSWORK.ORG

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?

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Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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