Dr. Samantha Sweeney asks us to continue the conversation about gender roles and offers questions to ask yourself, and your children.
We are using Father’s Day as an opportunity to think about and discuss our own ideas about maleness and masculinity. This seems fitting as traditionally being an involved father was not thought of as a very masculine thing to do. And men were certainly not supposed to actually show true affection towards their children. I’m thankful that some things have changed. That men who shower their children with hugs, kisses, and other signs of affection are much less likely to be seen in a negative way. Affection is not effeminate; it’s human. But we still have a long way to go.
I’ve received some feedback that you would like to see me talk about current events more, so I’m incorporating some of my thoughts about the Brock Turner case into this week. The connection between masculinity and sexual conquest is undeniable and I believe it contributes to a culture that excuses, or even condones, sexual assault. Disclaimer – this week’s video is not for little ones.
So this week is an opportunity for you to think about your own views on masculinity and how you are presenting that to your kids. Men have an important responsibility to change their behavior, but women contribute to our culture as well and also share the responsibility to change it. Check out the video and the one-page guide on ideas for how to get started. While, admittedly, this week’s video is less ‘fun’, it is all about making these conversations less intimidating and more accessible. I think we accomplish that here.
Have you ever examined your own views about masculinity? If not, what is/was holding you back? How will you introduce the topic to your kids? If you have already, what was the most surprising thing that they told you? Leave a comment below.
Questions to Ask Yourself:
1.What do you think it means to be a man? What defines who and what a man is?
2.What messages were communicated to you about what a man was? By parents? Family members? Friends? Teachers? Place of worship? Etc?
3.Think about the important men in your life. What do they have in common? How do they treat other men? Women? Children?
4.What biases do you hold about what it means to be a man? Are these biases something you can let go of? Would you want to? Why or why not?
5.How do you think society’s ideas of maleness & masculinity contributes to sexual violence against women and men?
6.Men are often victims of sexual violence and they are overwhelmingly the perpetrators. Why do you think this is not discussed as often or as openly as sexual violence against women?
7.What were your emotional or physical reactions in answering these questions? Did they make you uncomfortable? Did you skip over any of them? Were you dismissive of any? Which ones?
Questions/Comments For Your Kids:
Now that you’ve taken the time to think about your own thoughts on maleness and masculinity, talk about it with your kids. Here are some suggestions on how to get started
1.Ask about the gender dynamics of your child’s school, playgroup, class. Are there differential expectations of each sex? Are the expectations more rigid for boys than girls?
2.Talk about the men in your child’s life (daddy, teachers, uncles, etc). What makes them special? Do those things have to do with ideas about masculinity? Do they have to?
3.Talk about language that your child hears related to gender. Alter the language that you use for boys as opposed to girls (e.g., boys can be princesses & girls can be superheroes)
4.Ask your child directly what they think the differences are between boys and girls. Don’t correct them right away, just listen. Ask where they got their ideas about gender – specifically about what it means to be a man.
Originally Published on CulturallyCompetentKids.com
Photo: Getty Images