I, like most young women, will admit that I’ve spend many a day bemoaning the quality of men these days. Yes, I’m lucky enough to be engaged to an amazing man myself, but what about my sisters? My friends? And my future daughters? They also deserve a man who will consistently treat them with love and respect.
Most parents will assume that they’ve taught their boys to respect women, or that all they need is a conversation or two. And yes, the example of a dignified mother who is well-respected by her husband is the best possible start. But is that enough, in this day and age where all the negative opinions of the world are just a mouse-click away?
That’s why I really liked this article that was published in Time. Penned by mother of three and human rights lawyer, Jennifer Prestholdt, she makes an excellent point – even when we bring up our boys to be decent human beings, there’s no stopping the fact that they will still be deeply impacted by our culture.
What does this mean? Not that the case is hopeless – no way! It just means that telling them once is not enough; one conversation will not suffice. It means that every misogynistic television advert, every degrading billboard, every music video which glorifies unacceptable behaviour, every insulting joke that is easier to ignore, is an opportunity for frank, calm and honest discussion.
Prestholdt is a smart woman – with these discussions, she is teaching her sons to recognise the bias and the sexism around them, and to question what the messages that they hear in the media rather than just accepting them at face value. It wouldn’t be sane to try and remove your kids from the world altogether, but you can impact how they perceive it.