Will boys always be boys?


In November 2017, former First Lady, Michelle Obama spoke at an Obama Foundation’s Inaugural Summit. She was eloquently direct and open about how society tends to “protect boys whilst raising girls”. Mrs. Obama’s point resonated with many in the audience. It only takes a few minutes of childhood reminiscing for one to agree.

Is this parenting method linked to today’s macho culture? Is there a connection with the high yet undocumented rates of male to female abuse? Yes and no. Child rearing is incredibly complex. Well intended parents often make decisions that are inadvertent. Adults are influenced by their childhood but not bound by it. Let’s take a look at some cultures and see what their take on parenting boys vs. girls is –

1. Italy “Mama’s boys are not just a myth but a real phenomenon! “E’ maschio” (he’s male) is an umbrella excuse for male behavior that’s irresponsible or rude, etc. I read a statistic that said 95% of Italian men had never operated a washing machine.” – Jo

2. India & China –Boys in both New Delhi and Shanghai talked about being encouraged to spend time outside of the home…while girls said they were told to stay home and do chores. Crossing this divide leads to shaming and beatings.

3. Belgium & USA –  “It was more acceptable for girls to push against the gender boundary. Boys who challenge gender norms by their dress or behaviour were… seen as socially inferior.”

But then in….

4. Samoa – “Samoan Fa’afafine are men who are raised as females. In Samoa, if one family has numerous sons and no daughters, it’s not uncommon to raise one of the boys as a girl.” Yes, that’s right. Watch a short clip on the Fa’afafine tribe here.

5. Sweden  – It’s not unusual to see boys dressed as girls. A word was created to combine he and she to make a gender neutral pronoun and in crèches doll houses are painted blue.
So, MOCCA Mums, with very, very, very few exceptions we see that gender straitjacketing parenting is a global phenomenon. If this method of parenting is deeply entrenched in the psyche and culture of parents can we ever change? Should we? How?