Today the Son takes his last final exam.
His summer break begins this afternoon.
And thank goodness, because these past two weeks have been grueling.
For anyone who has helped a twenty year old study for finals, you know what it’s like.
(If you don’t, read about it here.)
He’s already announced that this weekend “the party gets started.”
In other words, when I’m going to bed he’s going out and when I’m waking up he’s getting home.
The culmination of classes also means I get more computer time.
Yes, friends, after God only knows how many months, I’ll finally be able to write my blog posts at a decent hour and not in the wee hours of the morning.
I’ll also have more time to catch up with my favorite blogs.
The thought alone makes me want to do a victory lap around the living room.
But first, there’s something I want to share with you.
The Son recently had to do a discussion post for his Psychology of Women class.
After much pleading and cajoling, he’s allowed me to share his answer with all of you.
The topic was, “If you had the power to create your own definition, what would your definition of masculinity be and why? How would this impact the understanding of femininity?”
Here’s his answer, unedited:
If I had the power to create a definition of masculinity, I would do away with it all together. I think it does a big disservice to femininity for there to be a distinction regarding a difference in all that is male or all that is female. Instead, I would strive for the elimination of gender and focus on a definition of what traits best describe a worthy human being. The way I see it, the only difference between both genders are the physical ones; those related to reproductive organs and hormones. Yet the fact that men and women have different reproductive organs should not have anything to do with their behavior or attitudes.
Sadly, the reality lies in the fact that as a society, we attribute certain traits or characteristics to men and women. Masculinity is associated with a man’s ability to be strong, sexual, aggressive, and dominant, to name a few. Ironically, not only do men define what being “a real man” is like, but women also give in to the notion that if a man is in touch with his feminine side, he’s not really a “man’s man.” Hence, women too are responsible for having expectations that masculinity is defined by men who are players, who don’t let anyone tell them what to do, or who crave adrenalin-filled activities and adventure. It is these expectations that make it so difficult for men to escape from the culturally defined concept of masculinity. However, if we were to embrace the fact that no trait is necessarily specific to men or women, the definition of masculinity would not be necessary. We could accept the fact that women can be strong, determined, and assertive and that men, on the other hand, can be sensitive, intuitive, and nurturing.
In educating boys so that they understand that there is no specific list that details qualifications that make a man a man, we would uphold the belief that as humans, we should strive to place value on what makes a person valuable. Traits such as kindness, compassion, and empathy shouldn’t be associated with any specific gender. As a society, we should expect and promote women and men to possess those qualities that make for a more positive environment; one that values respect, intellect, and tolerance and not one that dictates that men are men if they have sex on the brain and are combative and dominant.
I believe that in embracing this type of mentality, we would do away with the harmful effect of objectifying and sexualizing women or of labeling men “gay” when they show emotion or exhibit tenderness, for example. Therefore, the definition of masculinity should cease to exist and instead be replaced with what it’s like to be a good person; a fine human being.
I think that in reeducating boys to the reality that other than the physical, we’re all equal, we would be able to change attitudes and beliefs that men are superior to women; we would be able to change the sense of entitlement that by virtue of being male, men hold more power and status. Educating young boys would combat the use of derogatory labels and stereotypes that are used to define women and it would educate them to the fact that it is unacceptable to use hostility and violence against women to achieve their means. Finally, I find that it would lessen the importance that society places on physicality, thereby eliminating the need to treat women as sex objects.
When I read his answer, I cried.
I cried because I could hear my nana whispering, “Bella, you raised that boy right.”
However, the purpose of this post is not to toot my horn, although my heart bursts with pride.
Instead, I wanted to show you that it if we educate young boys to embrace gender equality, it is possible to banish society’s expectations of how men and women should act.
As parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and teachers, it is our responsibility to engage in this process.
In doing so, not only do we take a step in changing societal views, but we also help determine the kind of women and men our children will turn out to be.