“Boy power”? “Girl power”?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dresden-shumaker/raising-a-son-within-princess-culture_b_2727874.html

They are The Man. They are the ones oppressing women.

I don’t know if I’m in the majority or minority of the feminists when I say this, but I’ve never thought that men “oppress” women. Sure, there still aren’t many opportunities for women in different fields of work and in society and in public life, and there haven’t been a lot of opportunities for much of human history. But I don’t think it was because men were oppressing women. For me, oppression is prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control and I don’t think the way that women were treated was extremely cruel or unjust. Yes, we were often treated as property in the eyes of society. But that’s society, not The Man. Isn’t there the saying, “Behind every good man is a great woman”? Yes, women were often controlled in what they were taught and what they were supposed to say and how to act. But that was society. Not The Man. Man was also an oppressed being, subject to the whim of society, which controlled much of the thought process of many progressive men and women.

Yes, society is a creation of humankind, and oftentimes in the past, mankind. But I don’t think the level of oppression that women faced was anywhere near the level of oppression faced. And so, I don’t think it’s right to loosely use “oppression” in such contexts without realizing the consequences.

That’s what this article was talking about.

We as a society now applaud girls that get down and dirty when playing in mud, girls that are athletic, girls that are charismatic, girls that are eloquent. And we never question their sexuality. But what if a boy wants to buy Barbie? What if a boy’s favorite color was pink? What if a boy’s favorite TV show was Dora the Explorer? What if a boy’s favorite movie is Cinderella? We label them as “gay”. Aren’t we human beings such wonderful hypocrites?

Why can’t a boy play with Barbie dolls? What’s wrong with a boy’s favorite color being pink? For me, there’s nothing wrong with a boy not being as completely “masculine” and “rough” and “Hulk-like” as physically possible. Men with a bit of feminine charm to them is actually very interesting, and honestly very intriguing. They have an interesting perspective on the world. (And yes, guys, cooking is a charm that many women like in a guy.)

The stereotype of the gay best friend for girls has some truth in it. I have friends in the LGTBQ community, and honestly they are some of the most interesting people to talk to because of the insight that they bring. They’re also some of the most creative and artistic people I know, and I’m always in awe of how their idea is actually so overarching, or how their masterpiece is so moving and out of the box. One of my best friends, and someone I feel is a lot like the older brother I never had, is bisexual and a darn good dancer. Yes, he enjoys dancing a more “feminine” style of dance, but that still doesn’t change the fact that he has moves that makes me wonder about his flexibility. He enjoys putting on makeup; he likes to wear the color pink a lot — honestly, it suits his personality –; he always listens to whatever I have to say whenever I want to say it, without offering solutions; he and I share almost everything without judging each other because we love who we are; the list can go on forever.

But here is what I sadly realized: Within modern girl power, there seems to be a message that girls are better than boys. Boys are BAD. Boys are MEAN. Boys are silly, weak, stupid, clueless, rough.

I don’t think this was the message Susan B. Anthony, Jessica Valenti, or any other feminist wants to send. After all, what is the crux of the feminist argument? That women are equal to men. Women are equal to men. Equal, not better.

In order for society to be truly equal, we have also start teaching our sons to become feminists while telling them that there is nothing wrong with liking pink or Barbie or Disney princesses or hating GI Joes or racecars or climbing trees. Just like we tell our daughters that they can wear a princess crown while still getting muddy from playing soccer with a group of boys and girls. Only then will the mission of the feminists be accomplished.

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About squishymaru

Master's student in chemical engineering with a B.S. in chemical engineering as well. Loves chemistry, math, increasing diversity in STEM, politics, and public health advocacy. Loves reading, writing, and being active -- mentally and physically.

One thought on ““Boy power”? “Girl power”?

  1. musingpurple says:

    I agree with the idea that feminism is about equality and not putting one or the other of the genders on a pedestal as somehow ‘better’. Feminism is about fighting the SYSTEM of patriarchy, not MEN in general. In today’s society, men as as oppressed by the patriarchal structure as are the women. After all, if on one hand this structure tells a girl that her place is in the kitchen, on the other hand it also tells a boy that he must earn enough to support a wife and kids otherwise he will be less of a MAN. The ideas of masculinity and femininity in any given culture are set by the overarching patriarchal structure of that particular society and the men as well as the women cannot deviate from those ideas without running the risk of being ostracised.

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