A Letter to My Two Sons and Other Young Men

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About Laurie Petrou

Dr. Laurie Petrou is an Associate Professor at the RTA School of Media, Ryerson University. She is the author of Between (Pedlar Press) and most recently the creator of this video piece on masculinity, Boys will be Boys


  1. I’d add another.

    When it comes to being interested in something make sure it is something that YOU want. Don’t engage in an activity because you think it will get you attention. Don’t do something because other people say you should do it. Don’t abide by other people’s standards of what a man it. Don’t do it for others, do it for yourself.

  2. Randy Strauss says:

    That was wonderfully stated, Dr. Petrou. I’ll second Danny’s addition. Don’t do things you dislike or know are wrong just to fit in.

  3. FlyingKal says:

    Don’t take for granted that anyone will be privilegied or (feel) entitled to anything based on their gender alone.
    There are many situations in life where roles are reversed.

    Also, be the one to stand up and say stop.
    But not only on behalf or to the benefit of others, but even more important when wrong are done to yourself.

  4. 6. You are not entitled. You are not entitled to touch anyone, to feel superior to anyone, to get jobs or praise that you have not earned through trust and merit. You are, by the nature of your gender, privileged. Don’t add entitlement to that as well.

    Always taken on faith right?

    I have more room, as a woman, to feel righteous about touching someone of any sex without reprisal or accusations of harassment. Especially children.

    I have more room, as a woman, to feel superior to men, and culture (both left and right of politics) will often support me, saying “I’m more moral” because of it, and can’t hurt others in an inherent fashion, because I’m just too good (morally) to do that.

    I’ll get praised, as a woman, for doing the same thing men have done before and that they don’t get praise for (being good at videogames, for example).

    I don’t see how men have so much privilege that women don’t have equivalents in other areas of. And since pre-transition, I didn’t benefit from the male-specific areas of privilege (in the realms of ambition, intimidation, being overestimated in strength, being invisible), but nowadays I am benefitting from a lot of female-specific areas of privilege (being considered worthy of concern when victimized, being considered attractive by default (with the same looks and no fancy stuff), passivity being an okay strategy for dating (as opposed to a ticket to permanent celibacy), being visible).

    So I don’t see how it’s oh-so-good to be a man and oh-so-bad to be a woman, my experience says otherwise.

    And yes, being visible and invisible are both privileges, both have good points.

    • this

    • JustAMan says:


      Oh, the irony of having a professor at Ryerson University make point #6, and not see the other side of the coin as you just did so beautifully Schala. I refer to the decision of the Student Union at Ryerson to require men to pay student fees while simultaneously denying men a safe place to talk about their issues.

  5. Point well taken. Thanks for your comments.

  6. paul kidwell says:

    Never return a dish empty.
    Courtesy is the only thing to expect in life. Everything else is negotiable.

  7. I disagree with numbers 6 & 7. Number 6 because in many respects men are not automatically privileged in many areas. Overall, I think they sometimes have to work harder in areas traditionally populated by women and vice versa. Number 7, I agree with the title, be humble, but never downplay your successes. Share credit, sure. But you need to own yours stakes as well as your triumphs, or else people will never see the full picture.

  8. …. I will note, however, that as a Ryerson professor, I am aware that there are gender struggles across the university. I know, for instance, that female profs make less across the board than their male colleagues, and that our female grads will make less starting out than their male peers. There are challenges for all. I definitely agree that Ryerson needs safe places for young men to talk as well, so thank you for pointing that out. I appreciate all these great comments!

  9. I think no. 6 is possible the most important of all the points. But exclusively in terms of (the male) gender. Entitlement is just not attractive – at all – no matter who you are. If you have privilege is some form or context (and very few people do not), you’d do well to reflect on your privilege and make sure you do not let it feed a sense of entitlement.

    Se classic example to illustrate this is probably the enormous sense of entitlement that some young, wealthy people can develop if no-one is there to guide them. But there’s certainly people from all walks of life – men and women – who are infected with this.

    As for the specific case of entitlement and male privilege – well, there *are* privileges that men have, and it *is* a good idea to look at yourself and make sure you’re not feeling entitled. That does not mean that all men have an awful sense of entitlement, or that all men are bad or are abusing privileges. It just means that it’s something young men should look out for – because when it happens, it’s not pretty.


  1. [...] These are comments by Danny, Randy Strauss, Flying Kal, and Lars Fisher on the post “A Letter to My Two Sons and Other Young Men“. [...]

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