While I was doing some reading, I came across a quote from the historic women rights activist Gloria Steinem. She stated, “We’ve begun to raise our daughters more like sons, but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.” That statement hit a cord with me, as we see violence against women in the world as an epidemic that is engrained in our culture. It is the pressure we put on our sons to “be a man” that sometimes puts false visions of manhood in their minds. These aspects are the need for power over others, the ability to never show weakness, and most important, how they are superior to their female counterparts.
While referring to the quote above, in our efforts to reach gender equality, we have taken it upon ourselves to raise our daughters like we would raise our sons. Having them grow up with certain male attributes that will help them in the male-dominated world. As we are working to prepare our daughters to be strong and acclimate into a situation that is focused on achieving gender quality, we are not doing anything to help prevent the negative stereotypical traits from being engrained in our sons.
Steinem’s quote speaks truth to the current state of women’s rights in the world. As we work hard for gender equality, it is important that a focus be put on the changing of these false visions of manhood. The goal of gender equality is to make the same things offered to men, also offered to women. Gender equality is important, but women must not lessen themselves to fit it in the existing male model, and men should not be encouraged to lessen themselves either. The point being is to promote the positive traits of both genders, which in return, will create a society where violence is not mainstream.
It is important as we continue on the journey to end violence against women, that we not only look at the adult male predators, but how they came to be this way. We find that when we delve further into the foundation of these men, that we find a childhood stained with instability, and raised on old aged principals of power, strength, and disrespect for women. It is time that we start raising our sons like we do our daughters, in an effort to combat violence against women, and to bring understanding and respect for all humans, despite gender, into the foundation of young children everywhere.
By Megan Bird