Among the boring stuff like cleaning your teeth and tying shoelaces, we – because we are awesome parents – have taught you the following three things: respect yourself, respect others, and make good coffee.
Those are the important lessons in life.
You are an intelligent, strong, generous, witty, musical, messy, creative teenager. You like who you are and know what you want. You lead yourself well.
There are a few lessons currently being taught about men which I think are wrong. I want you to know you can ignore them.
It kinda looks like a key message we sell is that men are to be mistrusted and feared (and boys by extension, because boys grow to become men). Presuppositions of negative intent abound. This displeases me.
The mere fact you are male doesn’t mean you are guilty for the bad things done by other men.
While it’s true that many, if not most, women have experienced sexual harassment in their life it’s not true that many, if not most, men have perpetrated that harassment.
Your gender shouldn’t determine how you are perceived.
Men who make caring for their child their full-time job are more isolated than women who do the same, and are generally not afforded the same respect.
A stay-at-home-dad needs to be respected and normalised the same way stay-at-home-mums do. Let’s not have accolades for being a hero, or judgement for somehow being less manly.
Similarly, rather than it being normal and not worthy of comment when men are actively involved in parenting, we raise our eyebrows, comment in surprise, or talk about how special it is. Or worse, we women joke about them parenting “like a man”, and try to make them do it like we would.
If and when women are treated the same we become justifiably incensed. Most of us – regardless of our gender – have agreed for many decades now that discrimination, prejudice and ridicule is NOT okay.
So please ignore these messages. Actually no. Don’t ignore them. Actively refuse to accept them. Choose to stay away from people who objectify you because you’re male. Be with those who appreciate your value. Don’t accept someone else’s definition of what it means to be a man.
Dance to whatever rhythm you want, Boy, just remember the most important lesson – respect yourself and others.
Oh, and about the coffee; please remember that lesson too.
You’ll do just fine.