Thursday, October 13, 2011

About The Boy

I have been asked a few times why 'girl's issues' are my thing, when in fact I have a 4-year old boy. It's a fair question, and I've thought for a while about pinning down the words and putting them in a blog post. I am a terrible procrastinator though which isn't the best for blogging.

So anyway - I was inspired to answer that question today - and here goes. Part of the reason I focus on issues surrounding women and girls is academic. I have a Bachelor of Women's Studies degree. I took endless classes and wrote mountains of research papers about many of the issues facing women and girls; health issues, criminal justice issues, the ongoing struggles against violence and abuse, the age-old questions of prostitution, pornography, and erotica. I've written about issues from eating disorders to military women, and from cartoons to technology. I'm no expert on any of them, but am pretty passionate about them all.

When the papers were all graded and school was over, I didn't want to let that passion fizzle away. Enter the Mauve Dinosaur. With the Mauve Dinosaur blog I can keep ranting on about all the issues facing women and girls; I can keep researching, learning, and passing on information, all in an attempt to make a little bit of a difference.

So that's how it started. But, back to the question about the boy. Oh, about the boy. As he grows, and his wide little eyes see more of the world, and his little ears hear more messages and his growing brain absorbs more of the expectations and rules of the world around him, it gets more important by the day; more urgent by the year, that he learns to view the world around him with a critical lens.

I want the boy to grow up in a world where boys and girls, men and women have equal potential - in a world where women are not objectified - where sex isn't used to sell everything, and an impossible beauty ideal of eternal youth, unhealthy size and fake exterior doesn't entice us into harming ourselves, and destroying our relationships.

I care how women and girls see and treat themselves, because I care how my son will see and treat girls and women. I care how everyone's sons will see and treat women, and because I think that how they are going to, depends on how the girls and women in their lives see and treat themselves moving forward from now.

I just don't want my little man growing up in a world where the blatant sexualization and objectification of women is the norm. I want his life to be richer and his experiences to be broader, alongside smart, adventurous, curious, innovative, brave women and men. I want the women in his life to make him laugh with their confidence and self-esteem, and for him to break bread and drink wine, and indulge in amazing cultural experiences with male and female friends with a healthy body-image, and exciting, diverse lifestyles. I want him to see real, raw beauty in humans all around him, for him to grow old with people who embrace growing old.

I want this for him, and I want this for his children. And that is why I care.

This awful, wretched video from The Sun inspired me to write this post today. I grew up in the UK, where the image of a topless woman on Page 3 in The Sun daily newspaper lay, available and open on millions of coffee tables across the country, every day. The video makes no bones about it's message - it's a quick, visual recap of everything in the 'Man Code'. It's everything I want to protect my son from - everything he is 'supposed' to be; how he is supposed to think about the opposite sex.

When it comes to protecting girls and boys from harmful media messages that are in danger of shaping their future, there is no us vs. them; no girls vs. boys; no women's rights vs. men's rights - we're all in this together - looking for a way to shelter their precious childhood, extend their innocence, and avert their gaze for a moment longer.

I care about girls, because I care about the future. The future of all our girls and boys.

1 comment:

  1. I love this post. The patriarchy limits choices for boys as well as for girls. I once saw an excellent video about marketing campaigns and children which I shall have to try and search out, the final messages from all the pink and blue, toy prams and toy soldiers, was 'Kill' for boys and 'Care' for girls.