Who Says Raising Boys is Easier?
L.Z. Granderson takes on an outdated sexist myth.
“It’s easier to raise boys,” I was told. And for a while I actually believed them. Then I started paying attention.”
Granderson begins by pointing out just how skewed our perspectives about and projections on males really are. Almost predictably, the High School dropout rate for boys is higher than girls. Females outgraduate males in college too. This is not even particularly news, there have been several stories on this in the media over the last few years.
The incarceration rate for males is fifteen times that of women, which, if you think about it, says more about our failures at parenting boys than about well behaved girls are.
But, horrible as these facts are, it only gets worse. While our society still holds the traditional view that girls and women are the vulnerable sex, the “women and children first” mentality so ingrained in us, it is paradoxically boys who are more likely to be victims of crime than girls.
From bullying to assault and personal violence, it is your sons who you need to worry about when they leave home in the morning. It is boys, more than girls, who are in worse danger of getting robbed, attacked or even murdered.
Granderson tackles the ironic “double standard” around the issue of sexuality when it comes to raising teenagers. While there is much social anxiety about the sexualization of adolescent girls, there still seems to be little corresponding concern about their male counterparts. This shows up in our attitudes toward what they wear.
The author notes the sexualization of adolescent girl’s clothing, revealingly designed to provoke every male in sight (a trend, to be fair, often more driven by the wearer rather than her reluctant parents), but he also notes the blatant crass sexual references which show up on teenage boy’s tee shirts as well. These often go unnoticed in the discussion.
If parents of girls are battling over inappropriate outfits on their daughters, responsible parents of boys are fighting the cultural context of rap lyrics glorifying promiscuous males.
Just because a boy’s parents don’t need to fear his getting pregnant does not mean he or they are any less off the hook if he is responsible for that condition in another.
The very day to day language we employ in raising kids of both sexes is in play here. As Granderson notes:
“A little girl who likes to play sports is called a tomboy. A little boy who doesn’t like to play sports is called weird. A teen girl who says ‘no’ is called a good girl. A teen boy who says ‘no’ is called a sissy. A lot of words describe what it’s like for parents who are trying to teach their teenage son how to be his own man in a high school setting that demands conformity, but ‘easy’ is not one of them.”
And what, asks Granderson, does it say about how we raise boys to understand their responsibilities if we have to have a Federal Agency tasked with chasing down fathers who are in arrears on child support payments?
In short, we live in a culture which constantly seeks to protect the perceived vulnerability of young women while assuming that young men can just ‘look out for themselves’ and we pay the cost of this daily in our society.
Who ever said raising girls is easier?
LZ Granderson, writes a weekly column for CNN.com, he was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com and the 2009 winner of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation award for online journalism.
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