Raising Boys the Right Way in a Wrong World
The nation is reeling under the attack on 8-year-old Asifa, and the grievous crimes committed against her. Leaving all thoughts of religion and political vendetta aside, just the fact that she was a girl, she was prone to objectiveness and suppression by the typical entitled males, who are the very upholders of patriarchy in society, and for whom “being a man” means subjugation of anyone who isn’t
The nation is reeling under the attack on 8-year-old Asifa, and the grievous crimes committed against her. Leaving all thoughts of religion and political vendetta aside, just the fact that she was a girl, she was prone to objectiveness and suppression by the typical entitled males, who are the very upholders of patriarchy in society, and for whom “being a man” means subjugation of anyone who isn’t.
Traditionally, we’ve been teaching girls to “not get raped”. But there needs to be a massive shift in the conversation now, a change in the way we raise our kids. Boys equally need to be taught to “not rape”.
It may seem like a huge word in an everyday context, but when we realise that it's very rooted lie in the way we raise our children, specifically our boys, it gains that much more importance to raise responsible boys.
Just by being boys, they will have a lot of power and privilege in this world, because even though the change is coming, it will take time. Statistically speaking, our boys are more likely to have higher income and are less likely to be discriminated against based on their gender. We must start our dialogue with our boys very early on about both there as well as the status of women in this world.
It is of utmost importance that we raise our boys to be sensitive about gender inequality, and ultimately be men who advocate for a society in which women enjoy the same rights and privileges as men.
It starts right from childhood, from the simple notions that we drill into their heads, from the way we behave around them, from the way they see their elders interact with and talk to each other and with them as well.
These are simple ways of putting across the children that boys and girls deserve equal rights and equal footing in society and one need not bow down to the other. Let sons understand and realise how women manifest their choices in life.
These discussions will also pave the way for more encouraging talks in your household about other inequalities such as male privilege, the privilege and dominance of colour and caste, etc. These are all topics worth exploring and having open conversations about.
Don’t ever hesitate to discuss any topic with your child. If you feel you are unprepared for a discussion, tell your child honestly that you will try and do some research and discuss when both are better prepared. Encourage them to read, explore their ideas and thoughts.
Most importantly, emphasise this truth to your sons: those who have more power currently in society are also given more responsibility to make the changes that can create a fair society for one and all. Their gender does not define them. Only the work they eventually do will!
By: Namrata Bhagtani- Sadhvani