Saturday February 18, 2017 By: Nadeen El Fekky
At the age of six, I felt like a misfit. I didn’t wear dresses, nor did I buy the latest Barbie dolls. I was the first kid in the family and I always wished I had an older brother or cousin who’d play with cars and science kits with me. Being all alone, I felt like an outsider every time I tried mingling with girls my age, I wasn’t fond of tea parties or Disney princesses, so I hung around with boys and I even played football with them.
Boys were more fun back then. Just football and hide and seek, all day long. They always accepted and embraced my presence. I was taller and faster than almost all of them and I was different than the other girls, so they thought I was the coolest and strongest girl they knew. At that age, children start to grasp the stereotypical standards, pink versus blue, princesses versus action figures, and unicorns versus cars. However, some of them aren’t affected, I remember a boy who brought his kitchen set to show and tell.
Ten years later, at 16, four boys in my school were desperate to find their fifth football player. So I asked if I could play, and they said yes because they had to. That was my first football game in my new school, I was the only girl in court, and I scored a goal. But my goal wasn’t celebrated or accepted. The opposing team almost considered it a national disaster. How can a “girl” score a goal against a male goalkeeper? Astonishingly, my team was in shock too. How did she do that? How did the inferior, weak, physically unable “girl” score a goal in a court of ten other boys? Only one out of ten boys in that court high fived me and asked me if I played professionally, I said no, then he told me I must join a team and I should play with them more often. Only one. What happened in those ten years?
Boys are pure, naive and innocent at first, but then society and media bombard them with stereotypes, biases, gender roles and inequality. And without realizing, they become unaware misogynistic human beings who celebrate violence and inequality. All because, at a very young age they were told to look down on girls.
On the bright side, there was that one boy who cheered. What’s the difference between that boy and the other boys? I believe it’s how he was raised. If every parent raised their son to be a feminist, we will have a society where feminism isn’t confined to just women, but men too. Feminists aren’t angry or violent woman who hate men. Feminism doesn’t mean a woman who dresses like men. Feminism is the simple belief in gender equality, the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.
Unfortunately, most parents choose not to raise their sons as feminists. Some of them think that being a feminist means suppressing masculinity. Some suppose that there’s nothing wrong with gender roles and stereotypes. Some don’t have the courage to do it; to swim against the tide and to do something that’s considered abnormal in society. Because in a country where having a boy is considered a greater blessing than having a girl, it’s difficult to challenge the status quo. In some instances, women married to men who aren’t feminists, are more likely to conform to old traditions and as such consider it unwise to go against the grain. Others think it’s just too hard of a process, and they don’t consider that it’s incredibly simple if you just start at home. Everywhere he goes, teach him something. In the kitchen, make sure he gets to see his father or brother doing the dishes and teach him how too. Seeing a male figure doing house chores will normalize it for him.
Even if the men in the house aren’t involved in the chores, it’s never too late to start teaching. Teach him how to fix a sandwich and teach him how to do the dishes. That way, he’ll learn that house chores are genderless. When he enters the living room and opens the TV, tell him that not everything he sees is valid and true. Teach him to think. Teach him to be critical of the media in their portrayal of women. Tell him about Serena Williams and Marie Curie and every other woman who has given us so much. Before his first day of school, tell him that it’s okay to cry. That he should befriend girls. Before he goes outside, suggest he has a play date with girls. That way, he’ll know girls are his equals.
Build a home that’s proof to the bullets of inequality and misogyny. Let that home be the manufacturer that will build your son his own shield. With his own shield, he can intervene when he sees someone verbally or physically harassing a woman. He won’t be a victim of social conditioning. He would be proud if his girlfriend is even more successful than he is. He’ll help his wife with the house chores. He’ll not restrict his daughter with rules and curfews that are only applied on her and not his sons. He will be a feminist; he will be human. I wish that someday, my daughter will score a goal and all her teammates will high five her. And I wish that someday, we will look back at Gloria Steinem’s words “We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.” and think of how far we’ve gotten. I wish that the word “few” will be irrelevant. So please, start raising your sons more like your daughters.
Edited by: Lamia Senousi
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