Gender Equality Isn’t Just For Girls.

gender equality

I talk frequently about my desire to bring my daughter up to be a strong, confident young woman, and the role I play in encouraging that. Gender equality is so important to us but recently I’ve felt the need to remind people that it isn’t just girls who face being stereotyped.

I take my job in raising boys seriously. I want to raise the kind of young men that the world desperately needs right now. I want them to be part of a new generation of men that can be strong and kind. Ambitious and courteous. Smart and loving.

I get sick of hearing how society thinks women should be portrayed but I am equally nauseated by the way boys are too.

“Boys will be boys!”

“Boys don’t cry.”

“Boys don’t play with dolls!”

And the completely vomit-inducing….

“Man up!”

Urgh. Enough!

The last thing the world needs right now is more men who repress their feelings. Men in the UK aged 20 to 49 are more likely to die by suicide than any other cause. This has to change. We have to encourage boys from a young age that it’s OK to feel sad. They need to know their feelings are valid. By telling them “boys don’t cry” we are teaching them that their feelings don’t matter. That they should bottle up their emotions and “man up!”

I don’t want that for my boys. I have worried about one of my sons in particular being too gentle, before realising that the world needs more people like him. We can never have too much kindness, surely?

I want my boys to be able to play with dolls without people raising their eyebrows. I’d like them to have the courage to wear a dress, if they so choose.

What I want for my boys

I want them to grow up with a respect for women. It’s something we talk a lot about at home, and thankfully their school is brilliant at encouraging equality. My eldest son was baffled that in some countries women don’t have the same rights as men. That only just over 100 years ago I would not have been able to go out vote as their dad would have.

I want them to be able to express their emotions freely. We talk about the importance of mental health a lot at home, and encourage them to talk openly with us. My eldest son is almost nine, and is getting to the age where he is bothered about looking “cool”. I want him to know that it isn’t “uncool” to talk about your feelings. He’s naturally very reserved like his dad and it’s an ongoing battle to get him to open up, but it’s not a battle I’m willing to give up on.

I don’t want them to be bound by society’s expectations of what a “man” should be. They want to play with dolls? Fine by me. They want to be a midwife, a dancer, a stay at home dad…no problem. It’s not only my daughter who may need to fight against stereotypes.

I want them to strive to be the best they can be. I don’t want them to compete against anyone but themselves. I want them to work hard to achieve their goals, without attempting to belittle their competitiors.

I want them to realise that it takes great strength to be gentle in a tough world. Kindness is never a weakness.

I want them to join the fight for female equality for their sister and other girls around the world. I don’t want them to  feel intimidated by feminists – true feminism is not is not about tearing down men. It’s about raising women. A good strong man is not intimidated by a good strong woman.

I want them to have the strength to fight for what is right. The world is full of injustices. I don’t want my boys to turn a blind eye. I want them to be helpers. I want them to have that compassion and ingrained sense of what is right.

I want them to understand that love is love. I do think our kids’ generation may finally be the one that is accepting of love in all it’s forms. My youngest son received a Valentine’s Day card from a boy last year and he was thrilled!

Most of all I want them to be happy. My wish for them is the same as my wish for my daughter – to live the life they want. Not the life any one tells them they should have.


  1. Fab post! My husband doesn’t cry because he’s been brought up thinking that. I’m a firm believer in boy’s playing with dolls, crying and playing ‘house’. My son asked for a baby sister, a pram and a hoover for his 3rd Christmas… I didn’t hesitate at buying what he’d asked for.

  2. Fab post and beautiful words to go with it. My husband really struggles with expressing his emotions so if I had boys I would definitely want them to be able to do that. x

  3. I couldn’t agree with you more! I am raising boys and until I had them I really didn’t know of half of the stereotypes out there that affected men in a negative way. Then I became a mom of boys and my world has been changed. I see things from a different perspective and I too, am raising boys to be strong but kind and compassionate men. It’s so important to make sure we are teaching our boys the same values we are trying to teach our girls. They need love and respect too. Thank you for this post!

  4. I think you have a very good point here! I am very much a feminist but I do feel that sometimes our society is very good at focusing on equalities for women but yet men are not always in the best situation! Teaching them good values(boys or girls) is just essential

  5. My thinking is also along these lines! My little boy loves playing with a dolls house, but then I can see how imaginative the little world is that it brings him. He also loves playing with his kitchen, which is unsurprising seeing as he sees his dad cooking most nights. I also want to raise a loving, gentle, kind boy too! Thank you for linking this to #DreamTeam!

  6. Toxic masculinity is deadly, and needs stamping out as much as possible in order to raise healthy children of both genders. Being aware of the problem is half the battle. I think you’re doing a good job! #LGRTStumble

  7. I totally agree! It’s a double standard and I’d love for us to just focus on raising sensitive, respectful men who treat others kindly instead of trying to enforce this notion of repressed feelings! Great post!

  8. As a mom of two girls and one boy, I agree with you! I love how sensitive my little guy can be sometimes and I want him to know that it is okay! I also want him to grow up respecting and being kind to others, yet strong enough to be able to stand up for himself when necessary.

  9. I love this. So many mental health problems arise from not being able to vocalize your feelings, and boys in particular aren’t encouraged enough to practice that!

  10. Many boys love to nurture their own dolls and role play too. I try never to get caught by what society says is normal because children are different and should be allowed to explore the world in a judgement free zone.

  11. Perfectly said! My son loves to play with buggies and dolls. The other day he asked me not to tell someone he was because he was embarrased. I have always encouraged him to play with what he wants to and he always did. He started school this year and sadly I think this is where his embarrasment has come from. I told him play away it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, I wonder how long he will accept that though as boys will be boys is everywhere he turns – sad times! We must fight for children, female, male or somewhere inbetween!

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