There are a list of phrases we grew up with hearing and may be passing on to the next generation that are disempowering our kids.
This meme posted by Hot Moms Club is a great reminder that we need to be conscious of the lessons we are teaching our kids when we dismiss inappropriate behavior.
Actress and birth activist Robin Guy explains, “The point is, telling girls that boys being asses is somehow a compliment to the girl sends the wrong message. A boy being an ass needs to learn to behave better. Girls are asses too sometimes, they also need to learn to behave better.”
What lessons are our girls internalizing when we say to them that it’s OK for boys who like them, to be mean? Are we setting girls up to expect poor treatment from those who are supposed to care about them? What are we telling the boys about appropriate ways to treat a girl they have feelings for?
I understand that it can be hard to communicate our emotions, especially when we are young. Instead of dismissing and condoning it, why not give boys some strategies for better communication? While we are at it, let’s give girls a framework to speak up for themselves and create boundaries of how they expect to be treating by others.
Jacqueline Adderley adds, “We need to teach our little boys to show affection in other, more direct and appropriate ways.”
Adderley continues with, “I would like to delete the phrases “boys will be boys” and “you X like a girl” from our lexicon. One is a catch-all phrase for bad behaviour and the other, in spite of well-meaning attempts to empower the phrase, is derogatory.”
Just like the above meme, saying phrases like “boys will be boys” is giving boys permission to not be responsible for their behavior. At the same time, we tell girls that they need to accommodate their comfort and possibly safety so the boys can express themselves or be comfortable.
The whole thing about saying to a boy “you throw like a girl” or anything else “like a girl” is insulting girls and making it “lesser than” to be in any way like girls. Girls throw perfectly fine and it should not be an insult to say “you throw like a girl”.
It also tells girls that they are not as good as boys and should strive to be male to be good enough. This is something we are seeing en masse right now as women have been taught to throw away femininity in order to be seen as strong and capable. You can be feminine and perfectly powerful.
The whole thing puts males on a pedestal and females below them.
It’s not about trying to make boys into girls. It’s about treating both sexes with equal respect and each individual with respect. An individuals worth is not determined with how closely they resemble their gender stereotypes or how ungirl like they are.
As guardians of these impressionable, young beings who look to us to be models of how to be mature and respectful members of our community, we need to think about what we are teaching in our day to day interactions with our kids.
We cannot condone certain behavior when they are 8 and expect them to suddenly act differently when they are 13 or 21. The whole point of maturation is to learn how to be a mature being. Those lessons are taught piece by piece along the way, not a sudden flip when you hit the age of majority and become legally responsible for your actions.