My son recently turned two. It’s a lovely age. He’s constantly on the move and has something to say about everything he does or sees. I get such joy from being his mother.
With this joy comes worry. I worry a lot about the world he’s going to grow up in. These days, it’s difficult to be a man. With the lad / bro culture, the ‘stiff upper lip’ and the negative images that are painted about men and their ability, I worry about his emotional development and about giving him the tools to take on the world’s perception of him as a young man.
I worry that as he grows up, the young women around him will be constantly exposed to messages of empowerment, and he will be seen as just another one of the ‘patriarchy’.
Yesterday, there was a fantastic article in the Sunday Times about this.
The Sunday Times writer Katie Glass writes in the context of an increase in suicide amongst young men in the US and UK, that “while young women grow in confidence as feminism has evolved from dry academic discussions to being featured in Vogue…nobody [is giving] the same gleefully empowering message to young men… girls are told #thisgirlcan – who says that to boys?”.
Instead, we hear anger about men or even worse, apology. Boys will be boys. I can’t wait until this expression dies out from the English language.
As a woman working in media, making my way in the world, I have undeniably benefited from the push towards gender equality. More and more, as the mother of a boy, it strikes me that this equality should not be at the expense of men and indeed, boys. I worry that when my son goes to school, he won’t get the support he needs, because the education system seems to be so focused on giving support to girls to the detriment of boys – a terrible zero-sum game.
Some of this is natural maternal worry, I know. However, to quote Katie Glass, I want him to feel as excited about his future and his ability to make his place in the world as I do. I want him to feel as empowered as a man as I do as a woman. I want him to feel that all avenues are open to him and that if he works hard enough, that he can achieve whatever he puts his mind to.