7 Memes That Will Change The Way You Think About Raising Boys

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  1. Mr Supertypo says:

    Point five is something I disagree. Yes he (or she but we are talking about boys now) should learn to respect women. But not only, he has also to respect men, children, elder, people with disabilities, cross class cross ethnicity. And also learn to love and respect himself. Respect yourself and other because they are human beings.

    • Theorema Egregium says:

      I like the Buddhist approach: Learn to love and respect yourself, then gradually expand that circle until it encompasses the whole world.

      “Love thy neighbor as thyself” is pretty much useless if you do not love thyself.

      • “Love thy neighbor as thyself” is one of the best things ever said because it says in very few untwistable words that respect for others requires respect for yourself. :D Whoever came up with it should get the Nobel Price for Literature

        • It was Jesus who said love thy neighbor. Mark 12:30-31

          • no jesus did not say it , is one of the oldest phrases in all of human history,


            • Mark 12:28-31

              God’s most important command

              28 One of the legal experts heard their dispute and saw how well Jesus answered them. He came over and asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”

              29 Jesus replied, “The most important one is Israel, listen! Our God is the one Lord, 30 and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your mind, and with all your strength.[d] 31 The second is this, You will love your neighbor as yourself.[e] No other commandment is greater than these.”

            • There are other cultures and ideas besides your own.

            • peanut gallery says:

              Duuuuude is a 1st century Galilean Jew???

            • Tom Brechlin says:

              It’s hard to believe that there was any dispute about the saying. All of a sudden it appeared that there was discourse because Jesus said it? Are yall serious?

            • Thanks for posting the cartoon. I just thought I’d chime in with something I found interesting. There is actually quite a different philosophy wrapped up in what Christ said compared to the others that proceeded him. Christ was the first to suggest a positive, proactive treatment of others. While the other statements advocate refraining from behavior that you will wish to avoid yourself. Similar phrasing, but a completely different concept.

          • It mentions it in Leviticus 19 first

          • Book 11 of Plato’s Laws says “… Thou shalt not, if thou canst help, touch that which is mine, or remove the least thing which belongs to me without my consent; and may I be of a sound mind, and do to others as I would that they should do to me.” This was written 360 BC

            • I'm just sayin says:

              How bout we stop trying to figure out who said it and just do the damn command? I get tired of all the fighting about who is right and who is wrong. If you follow Jesus, follow Jesus. If you don’t, don’t. I get tired of both sides downplaying one another and don’t hit me with the “well he started it” crap. Be a grown ass adult and agree to disagree in a cordial manner. By the way, Jesus said to do that to.

            • amen

            • amen

            • Tom Brechlin says:


    • And also learn to love and respect himself.
      Which oddly isn’t directly said in any of the 7 memes mentioned here.

      I guess teaching boys to respect women is now more important than teaching boys to love and respect themselves. I think people are far too focused on the likening boys to girls thing. That’s not the problem. The problem is that boys are being held to standards that pretty lead them to becoming destructive and self destructive. The likening boys to girls thing is just the knife that is used to cut boys hearts out so to speak. The knife isn’t the problem. The problem is that we see fit to cut boys hearts out in the first place.

      • Numbers 2, 3, 4, and 6 are all components to a boy learning to love and respect himself.

        • Is it not important enough to directly say it, at least as directly as “respect women/girls” is pushed? Is respect for women/girls so vital that is must be frequently and directly said but respect for themselves is sufficiently conveyed through implication?

          • Lenora Rose says:

            Or maybe the world is FULL of ways we already regularly teach out boys to love themselves and is sometimes lacking in ways to teach them to also love and respect others who are not themselves.

            “We have 15 bananas here but we could use some oranges and grapes. There’s not enough variety in the fruit we’re fed.”
            “So you’re saying banana aren’t important enough?”

            • Or maybe the world is FULL of ways we already regularly teach out boys to love themselves and is sometimes lacking in ways to teach them to also love and respect others who are not themselves.
              As one who was a boy I can tell you that’s not the case.

              The focus was always on who to love, respect, and treat others, especially women/girls. Like I’ve said before those things are true and important but how effective can they be when those lessons come at the cost of never teaching boys to love and respect themselves?

              ““We have 15 bananas here but we could use some oranges and grapes. There’s not enough variety in the fruit we’re fed.”
              “So you’re saying banana aren’t important enough?”

              Not what I’m saying but let me borrow that.

              “We have 1 banana here but we need dozens and dozens of bushels of oranges and grapes.”

              “Yes a variety of fruit is good. Hey can we get some more bananas while we’re at it?”

              “Why do you hate oranges and grapes?”

      • Danny, this article is about this subject … I am sure other articles will be about what you would like to hear. But just because this article does not cover a part of development for boys that you believe is important does not make this article irrelevant.

        • Is the subject about respecting girls/women or about changing the way we raise our sons? If its the former then so be it but from what I can tell its the latter.

          But I don’t recall saying that this article irrelevant. In fact I don’t think anyone here has said that respect for girls/women is not important.

          • Danny, you are awesome. I’m also completely tired of the respect women and girls thing when women are being told to love themselves.

            Lets just tell men to love themselves and I’m sure their love and respect for others will grow naturally.

      • John Anderson says:

        @ Danny

        I also think that it lacks the message that boys are deserving of respect. Not only should you respect yourself, but others should respect your boundaries as well. Yes, society may have a boys will be boys mentality to excuse boy’s bad behavior, but girl’s bad behavior is excused in other ways. One being that she’s a girl so can’t do any harm.

    • I do not believe point five infers in anyway that he shouldn’t respect other people other then women. I think it’s important to boys and men’s emotional growth that there should be infact a special reference by itself about respecting women.

      Instead of saying point five is something to be disagreed with, how about saying, I agree with point five AND I would like to add another point. That boys and men should learn to value, love and respect themselves as well. That’s something I can get on board with instead of making it seem like point five is this awful terrible thing and that it somehow infers that we don’t want boys and men to respect themselves.

      It’s too easy to say, “Everyone should respect everyone”. We already fundementally know that. Special attention sometimes needs to be paid to certain groups. Sometime to men, sometimes to women, sometimes to those who are homosexual, sometimes to those who are heterosexual, sometimes to African-American men and women and sometimes to white men and women. I fear that sometimes our ego gets in the way of giving special attention to others at times and putting our own needs above other people.

      I bet there isn’t a man reading this that doesn’t like when women say specifically, “ I think men and boys deserve to be respected”, paying special attention to the needs of men, without having to draw immediate attention to women at the same time in fear that they will be forgot.

      • Theorema Egregium says:

        I guess the assumption in that poster was that a boy/man will respect people generally anyway, but may have a blind spot when it comes to women specifically. That’s the patriarchal narrative.

        • Maybe it’s a patriarchal narrative, maybe it’s not. But I can say that as a woman, yes it very much does seem like sometimes men DO have a blind spot when it comes to women specifically and that sometimes boys need to be taught certain things about women and girls that don’t come as easily as it may for him with other males. The same can just as easily be said about women. But this article was about boys. Why do we hold onto so much fear about giving special attention to any gender, religous, ethnic or sexual group? We shouldn’t. It shouldn’t bring us to feel disgruntled when special attention is given to oen group for a short period of time.

          The fact of the matter is that the world is still very much patriarchal and it’s often supported by men and women alike. People often talk about how “purtanical” American is as well, based on the long withstanding Catholic history of America. We’ve come a long way but we still have a strong foundation of prejudice from our countries’ history. Both in sex and in gender..and even race still today.

          • Erin,
            It may be a patriachal World. But I pretty much agree with Danny above.
            Because in my experience, men who don’t respect women, have in general very little respect for other men as well.
            (I.e. they don’t show respect for anyone unless they think they have something to gain from it.)

            • Mr Supertypo says:


              Also in my experience, I never came across in my entire life a man who is disrespectful to women and respectful to men. Either both or nothing. I dont say they dont exist, but in my life and experience in multiple European countries (cant speak for USA and Anglos) that type of guy is a UFO. Theoretically speaking its possible that a man has been hurt so badly by a woman/women that they end becoming women haters. So I acknowledge the possibility but I simply never cross the road with one of them or never ever heard about them, beside in limited internet circles and in some movies. But what do I know….

            • FlyingKal, I’ve seen and heard enough in my lifetime to firmly believe that both men and women are capable of respecting themselves and their own gender and not the other gender. They don’t even have to be full on haters. Much like sexuality, it’s a big huge wide scale where most people will fall on varying levels somewhere between point A and point Z. The glass ceiling, the old boys club, existed for a reason. Because there was a time when men believed that men and masculinity was superior. We still see a lot of residue of that that GMP tries to talk about. How men or boys get insulted by being called “girls”. As if it’s an insult to be a girl.

              I aso know that a person doesn’t always have to have been hurt by the subject of their hate, to hate that subject.

              I stand by my earlier comments that I would love for other men to teach boys and other men to specifically respect women AND specifically respect themselves. Men and women are not always the same and men and women do not treat each other same. Especially when it comes to sexual or romantic feelings. If it makes you feel better, you can teach boys and men to respect themselves first. I don’t care what order it’s done in.

              There are many things in this world that objectify women sexually and emotionally for men’s pleasure. I’d like to see some of that combated with real talks from men to boys or men to other men about what specifcally respecting women means.

              Mr Supertypo disagreed with point 5. To me, something seems messed up about that. You disagree about teaching boys or men about respecting women? How about being all for that AND being for teaching boys and men how to respect boys and men too.

            • Mr Supertypo says:

              ” Mr Supertypo disagreed with point 5. To me, something seems messed up about that. You disagree about teaching boys or men about respecting women? How about being all for that AND being for teaching boys and men how to respect boys and men too.”

              Actually I expanded it, including more categories…

            • I qoute : “Point five is something I disagree. ”

              I understand you had good intentions. I’m just asking you to look at point 5 and say “Yes, I agree with this AND I would like to add…..”

            • Mr Supertypo says:

              I disagree with the form. Off course we should respect women (you to) but not only. I dont want to respect women just because they are females, but because they are human beings; along with other categories.

            • I never once thought specifically pointing out how men need to respect women insinuated that men should not respect anyone else. It’s pretty apparent in our world that men have trouble respecting women and it’s much easier to objectify us in ways men do not treat other men. People are so afriad of being ignored, forgotten or somehow “unfair”, that they believe any kind of conversation that singles a certain group out is some how an injustice to everyoen else. It’s not.

              Men and women are equal but we are not entirely the same. We may have more simliarties that we believe, but that does not mean that all our interactions should be narrowly defined into some sexless-neutered state.

              Mr Supertypo, do you enjoy romantic relationships with women? If so, I have no doubt in my mind that you expect things from the women in your romantic relationships that you do not expect from your male or female buddies for that matter.

              There is absolutely nothing wrong with sitting down a a group or women or a group of men and teaching them to respect men or women seperate from their own gender. Infact, I think it’s neccesary to the quality of our relationships.

            • I need to update my statement to say *some* men.. even a lot of men. Certainly not “all” though. But I personally do believe there is a big issue in our world how men treat and respect women in relation to sex and physical attraction.

              Sorry about not qualifying that earlier though.

            • Erin,
              (I wrote a longer post, don’t now if it’s still in moderation or was eaten by auto-refresh, just wanted to add this.)

              Actually, your reference to the glass ceiling and the old boys’ club kind of makes the point for me. Because you have to have reached a certain level in society to be affected by those, even as a man. The vast majority of men never make it above the glass ceiling either, at least not in the way it is commonly referred to!
              And if you look at the men who have done it above the glass ceiling, and you see them hating on women, I can assure you that most of them have little more than contempt for “the common man” as well.

            • You don’t have to be making 6 figures to have the privilege. I know a lot of men who had the same exact jobs as women who had higher salaries. I’ve heard stories about things fellow men would say about their female workmates, more concerned with their looks and either objectifying her for them or degrading her for them, instead of focusing on how well she does her job. I am sorry but in my large experience with men, it’s always about the looks first and most.

              Here are some other examples:

              The second a female in the spot light puts on a couple pounds, she is torn to shreds.
              This doesn’t happen to men.
              Charlie Sheen goes on a bender, he gets a brand new show. Paula Dean gives an honest response to a direct question that in my opinion, wasn’t that terrible, she gets dropped from multiple lines.
              Men wait with mouths open and drooling for the next young starlet to turn 18. I don’t know many women that waste their time on such things.
              Take stock of how many movies have stories that center around male leads with women playing secondary characters and don’t even have very well developed characters.
              Take stock of how many movies pair older aging male actors with young beautiful women.
              Take stock of how many men dominate pretty much every professional world. It might be tough for men to reach that level of job success but it’s 10 times harder for women to do so.
              Think about all the meetings that take place at strip clubs, grown professional men possibly with families setting up “business” meetings at strip clubs.

              So don’t tell me I am making your point for you. We stand on totally opposite ends of the spectrum here and there is nothing I’ve said that proves your point the right one.

            • I do disagree about teaching boys to respect women unless the world starts spending a similar amount of time teaching girls to respect men. This used to happen before but at some point telling women to respect and value men became old fashioned. Remember Erin, women aren’t the only ones who have been objectified. Men have as well. Women therefore need to be reminded to properly respect men.

          • This is just a small nitpick – People often talk about how puritanical America is because of it’s PURITAN history, not it’s Catholic one. Puritans were a sect of English protestants. The Catholics have never really gained as much influence as Protestants in the country, except in a few pocketed areas (e.g. Boston). It was a pretty big deal when America elected JFK, because many thought a Catholic in charge of ANY part of the country was a bad idea, and that was just 50 years ago.

            • Just to show I don’t mean any criticism or negativity by my nitpick, I need to grammar-Nazi myself, hehehe.

              its NOT it’s – both of the times I used it.

              That’ll teach me for posting at two in the morning.

            • Yeah..that’s completely debatable but I am not going to get into a discussion about it in this thread.

    • I agree with what you are saying, but I don’t think the point of #5 was that you should respect ONLY women and no one else.

  2. Tracy Ann Essoglou says:

    The stereotype that Feminists hate men is as egregious as the memes about boys and men that this collection is supposed to address. The cartoon above [#4] perpetuates nonsense and is a disservice to the infinite number of Feminists who live and love the men in their/our lives. It is also an arrogant, if unwitting, dismissal of the fact that the ‘men’s movement’ is in many, if not most, ways an extension of the Women’s Liberation Movement, Feminism and the profound critique, philosophy and theorising that these women’s movements have created and elaborated — and continue to do so.

    Feminists critique the social construction of masculinity as one systemic constellation of power, dominance, abuse and violence. Any Feminist worthy of this identity also labors to inform herself and to develop every other form critique about every other form of systematic oppression, exclusion and subjugation, namely: racism and all forms of discrimination relating to ethnicity, gender normativity, classism, ableism, speciesism and is on the look out for the constantly changing and subdividing mutations of power in all of its abusive and prejudicial forms.

    To that end, it must be noted that this collection features only one man who is not white. In itself this is an example of a consistent failure to create and present images that are bountifully inclusive of our social reality. Furthermore, the extent to which white men reckon with the difficulties of their maiming and advantage-producing privilege, the stereotypes of not-white men vary greatly and with much more maiming and far less advantage or privilege.

    In general, I support the idea of this site as a place of dialogue and good intentions. However, good intentions can not substitute for rigor and commitment to be constantly self-challenging about our assumptions. The work we do as social activists must be on behalf of grappling with and refusing all forms of oppression, not only those with which we personally identify and/or suffer.

  3. I am in love with the last picture of this article. that is one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen.

    • That meme #7 is the only one here that I disagree with. It will never be _typical_ for boys to play with baby dolls. I’m not sure how anyone who knows anything about children could think so. Yes, there will always be the rare individuals who do, and we should love and value them. But if it ever got to the point of being “normal”, the human race would be in some _deep_ trouble. Sorta analogous to the way we have seemed to think that we could make the world more convenient for ourselves by killing off all the pests who eat our crops, the predator mammals who threaten us, etc.

  4. The best way to “Teach your son to respect Women” is for the Dad to model this behaviour by how he treats his wife.

    • Tom Brechlin says:

      Peggy, I understand what you’re saying but in reality, MANY boys don’t have dads in their lives… so now what? Who is teaching them?

  5. Tom Brechlin says:

    Here is an exercise that I used with the adolescent clients and have mentioned it here in some responses to other articles. Have a person take their hand and make an “OK” sign where your thumb and index fingers are making an “O” …the other three fingers are upright. You do the same through example. Then while placing your “OK” on your cheek, tell them to put it on their chin. Most of the time people will put the “OK” on their cheek, even though you told them to put it on their chin. Lesson, people learn what they see, not what they’re told. Kids learn by example. I would venture to say that most kids that disrespect other people have learned by example. So where are these poor examples coming from?

    I used this with adolescent boys who were progressing in residential treatment. When they reached a higher level in the treatment community they would voice their aggravation in that their peers wouldn’t listen to their direction. Often times though, these kids would say one thing and do another. What’s the saying? Do as I say, not as I do?

  6. Gregory Ward says:

    And how do you respect womankind as a boy? By looking down on them and treating them as helpless beings who always need our help? Opening doors for them because they can’t? Fighting fights they can themselves? Ordering for them at restaurants and not letting them speak? I think it’s important we instill a sense of equality in boys in relation to all of humanity. And of course teach girls they can do well on their own. I grew up with this sense that we’re all equal. Respecting women doesn’t always mean what we think in the traditional sense.

    • In reference to what you are suggesting, I think you teach boys that girls are just as capable as them even when they may need their help at times and vice versa.You teach them that needing help doesn’t make you or them less. You teach them to open doors for others, not because they can’t, but because being kind and considerate toward others is a really awesome thing. You teach them that if they see someone in distress, that they need to look deep within themselves to see what the next best course of action should be. Can you help them? Should you help them? Helping other people is really important. Treating women traditionally at times doesn’t mean a man thinks she is inept or less then him. At least, it shouldn’t.

      • Gregory Ward says:

        I agree about helpfulness. Men with machismo however do look down on women and I can’t be like that. I’d rather be with a woman who considers me her equal rather than expect me to follow an archaic tradition and perpetually waits for me to open her every door. I love holding doors for women, however.

        • I’ve personally never seen a woman stand around and perpetually wait for a man to open her door. But boy, is it nice when a man does. And it’s nice in a different way then when another woman does it for you. With another woman, it’s a sense of commoderie. When a man does it, it makes me feel all soft and feminine and I like feeling soft and feminine. Is that true for all women? Of course not. But I believe it’s true for some women as it is true for me.

    • Julia Volzkolväch says:

      On the “Fighting fights they can themselves” I disagree. When it’s about a social fight, we should fight together, women and men, white and black, gay or straight. It’s also great when people offer help… I’m so sad that it seems a lot of American males are more and more selfish about that, not wanting to help any woman in any sense (on the contrary, a lot of the times they feel pleasure when females fail or are attacked), only because their ego and sexism/hatred is too big to focus on anything else then their “maleness”. I sensed it a lot when I spent some time in America… a lot of men are really rude to females in general, and a lot of females are faithless and don’t even expect to defend themselves of the male hostility, as it’s a “normal” thing to expect that males won’t care. And when I hear what the American rappers talk about women (or any male is not “standard”)… I feel really so, so sad. I just don’t want this influence to ever invade my Country and culture.
      And that’s beautiful holding the door for people, I do that all the time for anyone, and I’m a woman. :)

      • Julia, what country are you from and how are things different in your country?

      • Gregory Ward says:

        Some men here think it’s the worst when you hold the door for them as another male. It’s so weird what’s going on in other guys’ heads. Those awkward expressions like somehow they’ve become inferior because they’re taught that’s what they’re supposed to do for women. Traditional culture sometimes is nerve-wracking. I’m all for kindness but not because of your gender.

        • Mr Supertypo says:


        • Lenora Rose says:

          I hold the door for anyone carrying a load or with their hands full. I’ve rarely had a confused look much less an “I’m being demeaned” look for it, but maybe it’s because in the context it’s obvious help is helpful.

          (Or maybe it’s because I have some sour thoughts of my own when I have my hands full and none of several people nearby offers to get a door)

          When my hands are free, I’d rather hold doors than have them held just because I’m female — Still, never be rude to helpfulness.

          • wellokaythen says:

            The way I see it, if I hold a door open for a person and that person doesn’t like it, that person can decline. For me, it’s a gesture, an offer. Take it or decline it, it’s okay with me. I won’t be insulted if the person declines. I have a right to offer, that person has a right to say no.

  7. 5. Teach Your Son to Respect Women

    I disagree with #5.

    Respect has to be earned and cannot be expected automatically for an entire group – in this case for ALL females.

    There are bad men, but there are also a lot of bad females who do not deserve to be ‘respected’.

    I wonder if this advice would be also given to girls, gender-reversed: Teach your daughter to respect men. All men. Or is this advice only one-way from males to females?

    Please explain how to understand #5. Thank you.

    • evansvilleace says:

      It means that as a whole, women (and men) should be respected. Respect should be earned on an individual basis, of course, but your respect for women as a whole should be more than “get in the kitchen.” The same goes for women who think all men should be fiddling with their cars in the garage.

    • I completley disagree with you Yohan. I think that respect is a basic human right and that giving it is the only option we have. Does that mean you let people walk all over you? No. There is a way to respect others and defend yourself, stick up for others or yourself and combat negative and disrespectul ideas respectfully. When I choose to respect someone whether they show me respect or not, that’s about how I honor and respect myself. What someone else chooses to do is their responsibility. So I try my best to treat other people with respect so that I honor myself. I’ve been in more then enough situations where I have been disrespected and it helps no one to meet that person with disrespect in return. No one walks away better for it, no one learns anything different. But when you meet someone with respect who was disrespecful? It might not have an immediate affect but you can visably see the wheels in their head turning and them taking a figurative step back. Some people will be better for it and some people it might take longer to learn that lesson.

      But I firmly believe respect is not something you only give contingent on how others behave. It’s something you give to others to honor yourself and the kind of person you want to be.

      So yes, teach your daughters and your sons to respect men and women, boys and girls. No one is so much better than anyone else that they get to be the judgement and jury in who does and doesn’t deserve respect.

    • Lenora Rose says:

      The problem with “respect has to be earned” is that it implies you always start by Disrespecting someone until they prove themselves worthy. This is not a healthy way to go through life.Much healthier to start by respecting everyone you meet and to only make exceptions for the people who have earned your DIS respect by their behaviour.

      “Respect women” Doesn’t mean “Put up with a complete psychopath just because she’s a she not a he”< it means, "When you meet a woman, Just as when you meet a man, treat her with respect until and unless she does something jerk-like to prove she does not deserve respect.

      So yes, I would teach my daughter to respect men. Until one proved himself unworthy. Teaching a person to treat others with respect does not mean teaching a person to be abused or act like a doormat.

  8. Mark Sherman says:

    I can’t get over the fact that the implicit (and just about explicit) message here is that there is something inherently wrong with boys who might act in so-called “boyish” ways. To me, it’s self-hate plain and simple. (This has nothing to do with treating girls and women respectfully. It’s about boys being rambunctious, etc.)

    And, at least equally important, why isn’t there anything here about boys achieving something, doing well in school, etc.? Couldn’t that last photo just show one of the boys doing something studious or creative?

    • I’m pretty sure that the message isn’t that rambunctiousness or traditionally “boyish” things are wrong, but that boys behaving in traditionally “unboyish” ways isn’t wrong either. Meaning, it’s okay for your boy to like sports and rough things, but it’s also okay for them to like things that aren’t like that. So, not self-hate at all.

      In a lot of cultures, especially Westerner cultures like America, being a boy or a man consists of a narrowly defined set of boundaries to exist in. Liking dolls, or poetry, or the color pink, or being gay for example, would be considered as less manly. These memes are trying to suggest that they’re not less manly, and that there are a lot of different things that make up a man than what is stereotypically thought of.

      As to the studious and creative thing, that actually falls in with what I previously wrote. Being studious, creative, or artistic is often seen as un-boyish as well. Boys are stereotypically supposed to be active and loud and sporty. Since this is trying to say that there’s more than those things to be a boy, this page does say that studiousness and creativity are important.

      • Mark Sherman says:

        Thanks for your thoughts, Mac.
        But you got me thinking — how would you define “manly”? And keep in mind that the definition would have to be something that differentiates it from “womanly.”

        Incidentally, I am absolutelyl for total acceptance of boys who like dolls or the color pink or are gay. But what I see lately is much less acceptance of whatever has been tradtionally associated with boyishness.

        And as for my wanting to see a picture of a boy doing something creative or studious, what deeply troubles me these days is that girls and young women are achieving a lot, and being strongly encouraged to do so. Boys are encouraged over and over again to be sensitive and nice (and that’s all good), and to respect girls and women (also good and important). But there seems to be so much concentration on this, there is little left over to encourage them to achieve.

        But back to my original question: What does “manly” mean?

        • You make a good point here. If the goal is to make it more acceptable for boys and men to be in caregiving roles, then we’d also need to improve the status of those roles, or at least take a good, honest, realistic look at those roles. I see #7 and I hope that maybe boys playing with dolls will lead society to take a look at all the myths of parenthood that surround us every day. I hope there’s never just a straight flipflop where men are simply expected to take care of children as their most proper, highest role in life.

    • Lenora Rose says:

      My son (He’s two) loves to run around, and climb and do active rambunctious things. Getting him to sit still or behave in public without strapping him to a stroller is a challenge because he’s very active and wants to run and explore. This is FINE, I’m okay with him being active and boyish (it means I have to keep more alert but that’s the balance). He likes books and brings them to me to read. This is also great.

      He sometimes tries to bite, or smacks me with his flailing arms when he’s upset. He’s not trying to hurt me; half the time he doesn’t know when he has. He’s letting out frustration. This is still not okay, and I’m slowly teaching him better.

      A lot of the behaviour that’s pardoned under “boys will be boys” is a lot closer to the latter than the former.

  9. Rereading that first meme a question hit me. While that is a good question to ask I think a more basic question to ask would be:

    If it would destroy a 12 year old boy to be called a girl, what are we teaching him about boys?

    And I think the answer is simple. We are teaching him that in order to be considered a boy he must exist inside the narrow band of behavior and mannerism that makes up acceptable boyhood. I think we can agree that that’s a big problem.

    Toy Soldier wrote a response post to the full list of 22 items from the original Buzzfeed article. Its worth a read, http://toysoldier.wordpress.com/2013/12/15/youre-not-helping-v-22/.

  10. Re #5, and #1.

    How can we, generation after generation, keep on telling little boys that girls (and women) deserve or require a certain level of treatment, respect and attention.
    How can we continue to do this, and yet expect the boys NOT to come up with the conclusion that girls are somehow different, more “fragile” or in some way or the other “inferior” when you aren’t supposed to mess around with them the same way you do with your boy friends?

    • What’s so bad about being different? Does different have to mean fragile? Or inferior?

      Can I share something many young girls learn about boys and men? We learn that they also deserve a certain level of treatment, respect and attention. Growing up my father sat at the head of the table. During the holidays the women where in the kitchen preparing the meal. She would be up early in the morning the day before cooking all day until 1 in the morning for the 30+ family members that would be invading the next day. At the last moment my Dad would come in and cut the turkey up at the head of the table, kind of with the perception that he was in charge of the meal. I watched my mother, grandmother and the other women in my family serve my father, grandfather and the other men while they and the other little boys watched football. This is only one of many examples. Boys are not the only ones that receive messages about who deserves what kind of treatment, respect and attention.

      How many homes looked just like mine?

      And are these messages all bad? I really don’t know. My mom would cook the meal while my Dad relaxed but my Dad was the one to chop down the firewood. Did it all even out? I have no clue. I suspect it did since they stayed married for 31 years before he died. Not all those years where easy so maybe it didn’t always even out. But maybe their marriage surivived so long because they didn’t count too closely everything they didn’t get and instead counted what they did get. I do not believe that the guys sitting around watching football while the women cooked was all bad. And I don’t believe openning doors for women is all bad either. We are getting dangerous is feeling bitter and angry when we are not met tit for tat. I think we need to start looking at the bigger picture.

      If you don’t like traditional gender roles, that’s fine. Celebrate what you like. But is it neccesary to degenerate all of the traditions and vilify them in the process?

      • Hi Erin,
        Thanks for your answer.
        No, different doesn’t have to mean “fragile”. But what I was trying to say, in the current way we are bringing up and educating boys on how to treat girls, I think it is pretty much inevitable that they arrive at this conclusion by themselves.
        And whether it is seen as inferior or not, I think is beside the point. Because telling the boys that girls are different, and that you should refrain from your usual behaviour that you enjoy with your friends, is probaby enough to let anyone arrive at the conclusion that this is not something I want to be with or be like.

        Otherwise, I agree with what you are saying. My father was a woodsman/lumberjack and a truck driver, and often worked 12 hours, 6 days a week. Mom stayed at home til we started school, then she got a regular fulltime job. I was about 10 when I started making my own hamburgers and pasta after school because I simply grew tired of sandwishes every day. ;-)
        But my father didn’t have the head of the table to his disposal. Nor do I remember him watching TV all that much, but doing whatever job he could in the household when he was at home. And me and my brothers was taught early (mostly by his example!) to do the same.

        So yes, there’s too much “tit for tat” arguments overall. At it warms my heart that you think so too.
        But that was really beside my point. I was just trying to connect the dots between bullet #1 and #5, as to “Why do we act all surprised and condescending that boys think girls are different, when at the same time we are constantly telling them that they ARE?”

        • I have been spending a little more time thinking about how I respond to others on here and how that affects the conversation. There are times when I want nothing more than to say “but what about women!” Sometimes that wins out, other times I can get around that to focus on the specific needs of the topic and recongnize that sometimes we just need to talk about men onto themselves. But I’ve had to examine my own reasons for this which was a fear that women will be left out of the conversation and that men will not be interested in giving the same consideration to them that they give to themselves around here. Which is why I was thinking about the “tit for “tat” thing. I think alot of us operate out of a simliar fear and concern for the well being and respect and the unique challenges our indivudal genders sometime face.

          I don’t think there is anything wrong with telling boys that girls *can* be different and vice versa. And sometimes I do believe there are certain things women need to give men and men need to give women that would not pertain to the relationships with people of their own gender. Perhaps we spent so much time in such a highly polarized genderized society that we are now swinging far the opposite way. My hope is that we eventually find some balance where it’s okay to say that boys and girls can very much be different and sometimes very much be the same too and honoring both sides of the coin.

          Frankly, I don’t want to completely eliminate everything that causes men to enjoy women for their femininity and women to enjoy men for their masculinity in favor of this bland-neutral world where we are afraid to admit that sometimes men and women are simply different. The trick is navigating our differences and still respecting each other and not assuming that everything has to be the same to be equal.

          By the way, my dad was a truck driver too. It was a family business of trucking and farming.

    • I totally agree with you about #5. #1, however, is a totally different point. It is a deep shame that it’s portrayed as such a terrible insult to be called a girl. I did my best to ensure that my sons understood “girl” to be a physical descriptor along the lines of “tall” or “long-haired,” not a value descriptor along the lines of “wimpy” or “weak.”

  11. Mostly_123 says:

    Something Erin mentioned earlier got me thinking:

    “I bet there isn’t a man reading this that doesn’t like when women say specifically, ‘I think men and boys deserve to be respected’” 

    I myself wouldn’t take that bet.
    Frankly, I think I disagree with assumption of a person being bound to ‘like’ or value a comment by gendered defaults alone; when it’s phrased so that it’s assumed that the value or legitimacy of the statement itself, all its bearing, rests on gender. I don’t like the blanket assumption to begin with that the gender of the person making the comment has, has to have, or should have, any bearing the veracity of what they’re saying in the minds of the audience: It’s a presumption, and a projection of one’s own bias onto the audience, not a truth or an insight on the audience itself. Projection, assumption, or expectation of bias is not the same as the existence of bias, or the identification of bias.         
    In regard to the subject itself (“I think men and boys deserve to be respected”) – Again, there’s a presumption there that when people are not respected (or deemed worthy of respect) that it’s rooted in gender. Again, it presumes a pre-existing dynamic based in gender, without even considering the notion that it just might not be: It implies that respect is tied to gender & can be understood by gendered analysis, when respect is really something that transcends gender. When it’s phrased that way it makes it seem as though respect is, can, and/or should be stratified according to something a general as gender. Typically, I dislike gendered generalizations, whether or not they’re intended to compliment or criticize or neither- because either way, they often sacrifice nuance for dissonance.          

    How we choose to collectivize ourselves (and others) shows how we perceive, what we value, and what we are focused on – but focus or fixation is not the same as understanding. To use a somewhat clumsy metaphor; I can focus intently on one item in a room, perhaps even to the exclusion of all else; but that does not mean I have fuller understanding of the contents of the room itself, or even how that item itself relates (or does not relate) to the rest of the room.     

    Whether it’s more respect, less respect, or the same respect- when one breaks it down by gender, then they’re already tacitly accepting the idea that this is the focal point and a legitimate demarcation line to begin with; that respect, when it’s invested or withheld, is actually done so on the basis of gender- it isn’t (nor should it be), so the demarcation there is off to begin with.  

    What makes people worthy of human respect is their humanity- irrespective of the anchors we use like gender, race, class, nationality, sexuality, religion, and so forth. But the broader the generalizations are, the easier it is to make collective pronouncements; and that kills nuance- and nuance is at core individuality; understanding & appreciating it. And THAT is where our real human dignity, our moral legitimacy, and our right to respect is truly rooted- in our individuality and our autonomy; not as part of a collective with shared or presumed (and often superficial) characteristics. We want & need these collectives as frames of reference; but often they hinder as much as they can help: Generalizations may (or may not) shed light, but light they give us is often glaring & overpowering, obscuring the details from our vision, more than illuminating them.    

    If someone affords me or denies me a measure of respect, contingent on or biased on the basis of my gender -either way, I know that their decision (and its value) is arbitrary: Because either way, it’s not informed by an understanding of who I am as an individual, rather than as a collective (and thus, not an informed understanding of any or all of the other individuals that comprise this arbitrary collective). So, such a decision was informed then by their own predisposition to look through their chosen lens, their way of collectivizing others (whether it’s gender, race, religion, nationality, ideology, age, etc). In short, when one is looking for ways to justify commonalities (and stereotypes, and prejudices) one can often find them if they look hard enough. We all make collective generalizations because we have to; because, of course, we can’t understand all individuals, individually. But generalizing itself doesn’t mean that we have a better or truer understanding of that collective we’re focused on- it just shows us what we HAVE focused on, as well as what we have not; of what we value as significant, and what we are disregarding as superfluous. Having a notion or an understanding of a collective is not the same as understanding the individuals in it, collectively. 

    Collectives such as gendered generalizations aren’t just a way of defining ourselves (and others), they’re a way of externalizing ourselves from others, and, significantly, excluding others from letting them define themselves in relation to us, on their own terms: We’re locking them out, and locking ourselves in. But when we can exclude others from our own collective, we can also delegitimize them, collectively; because they’re not ‘us’ anymore, they’re ‘them.’ Personally, I find it most fulfilling to legitimize or delegitimize an argument or a point of logic, rather than a collective; I prefer the selective over the collective.                

    • Mostely_123, check out the article “Why We as Women Need to Ease up on Men”. This is just one example of what I see happen, when the men of GMP receive acknowledgement from women about issues they experience.

      Here are a few male response to the article:
      “Thank you for making this article. I really appreciate having a woman write this and understand men so well.” – Danny
      “45 year old white male here – thank you for this.” – Tim
      “Hi Tamara, great article…I think there are a few things that could be added to the advice given to women about how they should approach their men.” – John

      Sometimes not being respected IS rooted in gender.
      Sometimes not being respected IS rooted in religion.
      Sometimes not being respected IS rooted in race.
      Sometimes not being respected Is rooted in political view.

      I find that there are many women and many men longing for validation from the opposite sex. And they really appreciate the effort the other may make specifically for them. Does this some how infer that they don’t also want respect for their own gender? Of course not. Does this mean that everything surmounts to gender or rests on gender? Again, of course not. But I am really confused why lately so many people around the GMP want to ignore gender as if it doesn’t exist at all or imply that articles that discuss topics focusing on either men and women at a secular time is some how harmful.

      There is nothing wrong with men or women enjoying special attention, value, respect, compassion or empathy being given to them by the other gender at different times. Asking for respect, empathy and compassion for men, does not infer that women do not deserve respect, empathy and compassion.

      • Mostly_123 says:

        “Sometimes not being respected IS rooted in gender.
        Sometimes not being respected IS rooted in religion.
        Sometimes not being respected IS rooted in race.
        Sometimes not being respected Is rooted in political view.”

        But whether it is, or it is not, is ultimately indicative of the individual; not the collective, or a proportionate percentage of it.     

        “… Does this mean that everything surmounts to gender or rests on gender? Again, of course not. But I am really confused why lately so many people around the GMP want to ignore gender as if it doesn’t exist at all or imply that articles that discuss topics focusing on either men and women at a secular time is some how harmful.”

        The issue is not whether or not an individual is or isn’t sexist, racist, or otherwise prejudiced; or whether an individual or individuals seek approbation from the opposite gender or not- The issue, I think, is the legitimacy or illegitimacy of applying observations collectively, as so many ideologies are wont to do. People do use “sometimes” to mean “it’s ALWAYS there, whether you see it or not” (rather than to say “but usually not”) and hence collectivize by inference. Law & power operate on the same principle, and that’s why ideologies seek to appropriate it- after all, we do not have laws because everyone commits the particular crime being outlawed- it simply suffices that one or more individuals have (or might), and hence the need for a binding law. So, conceding that, we cede obedience to authority collectively there- we obey the law. 

        The problem is that ideologies don’t see individual aberrations as such- as abhorrent actions/attitudes of autonomous individual; they see them as representations of their collective, of institutional failures & oppression, and thus necessitating not individual responses or censures, but rather collective action & attitude, guided by their own ideological presumptions. So, by that thinking, it would suffice then that anything short of failing to prove that ‘not being respected is NEVER rooted in gender’ hence proves that collective sexism, on some level, MUST therefore exist and so, authority must be ceded to correct and control it. This is how ideologies justify and perpetuate themselves. It’s similar to theological debates where failing to disprove the existence of God is taken itself as ample proof of existence.              

        Speaking broadly, ideologies simply cannot countenance any situation or causation which deals in potentialities that do not show the weight of it resting on their chosen pillars (be it class, race, gender or otherwise). Because to deny the primacy of such (and hence, the particular matrix of oppression which they have identified) would be to deny their own legitimacy, their own appeal for collective change along that chosen axis, and their very ideological foundations.

  12. I find it rather sickening that it is considered more urgent to tell boys to respect women.

    They are more likely to be the victims of abuse and violence than being violent and abusive themselves, but this just reinforces the prejudiced mindset that because they’re male they’re potential abusers in waiting.

  13. Am I to understand, that the only way to teach boys respect for women is to feminize them? Additionally it would seem that females are the only sex that has an innate respect for others according to feminism. So, while we are on the topic of eradicating stereotypes and condescending attitudes…

    • Theorema Egregium says:

      It depends on the definitions of feminine and masculine you are using in the argument, doesn’t it? If you think there is no true masculine masculinity which is compatible with respect for women then you are doing men (including yourself) a disfavor.

  14. I’m conflicted about 5…I was the whole time I was raising two boys. Of my own accord, I never singled out gender when teaching them how to treat others (and how to allow themselves to be treated by others). That was on purpose. However, they received conflicting messages from others and from society to the message I sent, so I had to address those messages–then, when the older one hit puberty, there were interactions with females that he only wanted to have with females, not males, and so that had to be addressed separately too.

    6 is silly. Every dimension of both human and nonhuman has been modeled by countless male actors. There’s not a shortage of that anywhere and it makes me wonder where the author got the idea that there was one.

    7 is, I guess, the feel-good ending. :) So I won’t analyze it.

    I do like all the other points.

  15. Tom Brechlin says:

    I’d like to add to #6 … without discounting or shaming boys that may not fit this image.

  16. Billboards, webcomics, pictures, and quotes are not “memes”. Meme refers to the act of something going viral. Even if the typical “image with words” was the proper definition most of these don’t even qualify. I know it seems like I’m splitting hairs, but if you want to get a valid point across, use terms and phrases correctly to at least seem educated about the topic.


  1. […] First, from “Raising Boys,” a subset of “The Good Men Project”, comes a post entitled Seven Memes That Will Change The Way You Think About Raising Boys: […]

  2. […] 7 Memes That Will Change The Way You Think About Raising Boys […]

  3. […] two pieces of advice he came across on how to raise boys.  The first is from a list called “Seven Memes That Will Change The Way You Think About Raising Boys” and has such comments as “We Believe In Men, Their Maturity And Compassion” […]

  4. […] This comment by Erin on the post 7 Memes That Will Change The Way You Think About Raising Boys […]

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