Raising Sons in a "Girl Power" World

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011
Nick bread
More than a decade has passed since I found myself at a Women's Leadership conference reading a piece printed on purple paper that espoused all the great things women are capable of; it was powerful and the words made me feel empowered.  But, when I got to the last sentence I sank into my chair and felt tears in my eyes - "And, men are only good for lifting heavy s*#$".

As a wife and the mother of three young sons, I found these words painful. If the men in my life were or are destined to be only good at lifting heavy stuff, then everything else would fall on my shoulders. The thinking, planning, cooking, cleaning, worrying, bill paying, shopping, decision making, and more would be on my plate.  I consider myself a feminist, but this is not what I bargained for.

Like many women my age, I find it easy to fall into the trap of trying to be "Super Woman" - I even donned the super hero costume for Halloween one year.  But, if being super woman means letting the men in our lives get off easy - only calling on them when the furniture needs to be moved - this is not good.

I made a conscious effort to stop trying to be so "Super". The first time my oldest son was upset because he needed an athletic uniform that wasn't clean - I taught him how to wash his own clothes.  My middle son went to his older brother when he had the same predicament.  I don't even know when my youngest son learned how to do his own laundry.

I do know that he was making his own lunches when he still needed a step stool to reach the kitchen

Chris Cooking

Chris cooking

counter.  I have been accused of being "mean"; one of my sons still says ""none of my friends had to make their own lunches" in a way that can invoke a twinge of guilt.  But, I remind him (and myself) that he never had to be upset with me for packing something he doesn't like - he had control - he was empowered!

When did "Girl Power" become focused on weakening men and boys?  Feminism, in my mind, was never about tilting the balance of advantage - it is about creating equal opportunity and equal responsibility regardless of your gender.

Am I grateful that I have three strong sons who can lift heavy stuff for me? Absolutely!  I am also proud that they can think for themselves, cook, wash the dishes, and do their own laundry.

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