No parent would ever think of teaching their boy how to physically or mentally abuse or worse rape a girl. And yet, there has been increase in crimes against women over time. While we try to bring up our children in a gender neutral way, we more than often send out signals which help boys believe that they are superior and eve-teasing is a social norm. This in turn contributes to rape culture and general sense of authority and supremacy over women. Of course we don’t want to raise chauvinists but even with the years of struggle, this prejudice do not seem to fade.
1. We believe ‘Boys will be Boys’: Being a mother of a boy myself, I have heard this too often. Whenever my son acts naughty or aggressive in a big family gathering, I would hear this and stand ‘corrected’ for correcting him. Mother Nature or God did not tell me that it is OK for my boy to hit, so it is NOT. We need to stop excusing boys for their bad behavior and lack of control.
2. Boys cannot hold it: I am totally aligned with the Swachh Bharat campaign and its objective of making the country open-defecation free. That said, anyone either a girl or a boy needs to hold on till they spot a toilet. But in our country, this rule only applies to females. Men can pee in open. Why? Well, for the starters they cannot hold. Second, its bad for your kidneys. Somehow, we forgot that females too have kidneys and they too have to ‘learn’ to hold.
3. Girls need to dress appropriately: When parents talk about the clothes of a girl and how they provoked eve-teasers to pass lewd comments, children, irrespective of gender, start believing that it is OK to tease in certain situations. We need to stop shaming our daughters and sisters. There is never an excuse to misbehave.
4. Manners are for girls: As a girl, I too have heard this from my grand mother. Whenever a girl yells or misbehaves, she is quickly reminded that none of these mannerisms will be accepted when she gets married. So she must learn to behave, speak softly and be timid. On the other hand, boys are never taught that they will too get married and must learn to behave and act to keep their spouses happy.
5. Boys have no work in kitchen: Every human should and must know how to feed himself/herself irrespective of the gender. This is a basic life skill and has no significance attached to gender. In fact, many Michelin Star chefs happen to be men.
6. We still read fairy tales to our daughters: When we read fairy tales like Cinderella, Snow-white etc we convey the message that our daughters need a knight to rescue them. ‘Be your own hero’ is what we should be teaching them. Instead read your daughters and sons about the great works of Madam Curie, Mother Teresa, Florence Nightingale, Margret Hamilton, Nancy Wake and see how wonderful human being they become.
7. We swear too much: Nothing wrong with swearing as a mean of venting out as long as it is not centered around a woman. Almost all dirty swears have women at their core. We cannot respect a gender when we constantly use it to curse. Also it is acceptable for a man to swear but women who swear are, well, bitches!
8. We don’t teach consent: Consent is the center of the problem and yet we do not teach anything about consent. We insist our children to hug and kiss relatives when they want do not want to. That sends out a very wrong message. We need to teach them what No means and the only way to teach is to model.
Let us make it right for our children before it is too late.
Also read: Why I Never Say “GOOD BOY”?