Teaching Gender Equality with Children’s Books
Why boys need to read books featuring strong girls.
Moms and Dads, are you setting your sons up for a mentally healthy future? Are you teaching your sons to value the strengths of both men and women? Does it seem like you are saying boys and girls are equal, but they still say stuff like “girls like pink and boys like blue?” Well, I have the solution! Start reading them books featuring little girls who rock!
We are raising our boys in a time when the unconscious bias around gender will hinder their success and kill their self-esteem if we don’t start them out young with the understanding that boys and girls are equal. Of course, girls benefit from societies that treat them as equals, but there is an abundance of evidence that boys reap the benefits even more! The tradition of gender biases can stop them on many levels currently and in the near future. Here are a few examples of how:
- Men who are overly constricted by their gender, whose fear of being ridiculed for behaviors that are not “masculine enough,” have an increased likelihood to release the tension from their repression in negative ways.
- In a recent study in the American Journal of Men’s Health (2018), four researchers examined the relationship between rigid adherence to the norms of masculinity (which broadly include “dominance, violence, anti-femininity, emotional control, and self reliance”) and undesirable outcomes like “negative emotionality, including depression, aggression and hostility, and poorer overall psychological well-being.”
- Freud conceptualized the process of repression like a relief valve on a hydraulic machine. If we let the machine operate for too long, the air pressure in the machine builds up so much that it must be released or the machine will blow up. A valve on the machine allows for this pressure to be released so that the machine can continue to operate. In a similar fashion, if we repress our feelings and desires for too long, the pressure from the pent-up energy gets to be too much. Those feelings and desires need to come out somehow. A phenomenon we see happening currently.
- The threat to men who have accepted a narrow definition of what it means to be a man is genuine. Self-harm, depression, anxiety, and aggressive attacks on others may be the consequence of having to hold in any thought or feeling that could expose a man to ridicule or judgment. Men who are fathers of young boys may also transmit those narrow gender definitions – and along with them, a small set of destructive mechanisms for releasing their repressed emotions – to the next generation.
- Men who see women as equal tend to have happier and healthier relationships with them both romantically and professionally!
It is overdue that all people be relieved of the burden of the false construct of gender. Your genitals do not define you! You are a person, who is allowed to act authentically, as your feelings and desires manifest themselves. Let’s teach our children to value and express the best characteristics of both genders, as they are appropriate to the situations in which we find ourselves. Let’s all strive to be human beings, and give each other the respect we all need. Do this by showing boys and girls the images of powerful children of all genders! It’s been one sided for too long, and our trauma-filled society is a reflection of it.
Read your children This Real Life Books and create an equal and trauma-free society for the future! Start with Galaxy’s Whale available here!
Freud, S. (1960). Jokes and their relation to the unconscious. New York: Norton and Company.
Green, J. D., Kearns, J. C., Ledoux, A. M., Addis, M. E., & Marx, B. P. (2018). The Association Between Masculinity and Nonsuicidal self-injury. American journal of men’s health, 12(1), 30-40.