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8 Ways To Stop Poisoning Your Children With Toxic Masculinity and Destructive Gender Roles

Hi, you there, the one making your two-year-old wear little teeny tiny high heels, the one dressing your son up in “ladies man” onesies, stop what you’re doing…right now. Not only are your gender-reveal parties absurd, but they are leading to detrimental attitudes about women and men, alike. So how do we fix this? Well, here’s a few ways to start with on your journey to gender-equality parenting, and a life of raising mini-feminists and future women’s marches protesters. 

1. Stop with those obnoxious flowers

Nothing screams “I am obsessed with gender, and live in constant fear of having my child accidentally mistaken as a boy” like a giant f**king flower on your baby’s forehead. Whether or not it’s for your ‘gram, it looks ridiculous.

2. Encourage your children to experiment with gender non-conforming toys.

Let Kyle play with the Barbie dreamhouse. Let your daughters collect Hot Wheels and Legos. Newflash, letting your son dresses up in a tutu and tiara, will not magically make him attracted to other men, no matter how many times he waves his plastic wand.

3. Stop pushing little boys to be sexual animals

From the moment a boy first hears, “you’re going to be a ladies man when you grow up,” society will continue praise male hyper-sexuality. So, instead of asking your little ones whether or not there are any cute girls in their class, encourage male-female friendships, and push the young boys in your life to recognize women as more than just “pretty objects.” Point out to him that the Sarah he sits next to is “smart and hardworking,” and that Jessica is “a great basketball player,” it may just change the way he acts in a relationship, as an employee, and in a marriage, in the future.

4. Don’t assume that your daughters will be mothers and wives one day.

Much like you shouldn’t assume that your sons will be all-star athletes, or CEOS, you shouldn’t assume your daughters will all grow up to be wives and mothers. Recognize your children as unique individuals, individuals that aren’t doomed to be products of the status quo and gender norms. Consult your children. Value their opinion. Ask them about their interests. Don’t just sign them up for the t-ball team or the ballet class, because “that’s what boys/girls do.”  

5. Never tell your son to “man up.”  

First of all, what does that even mean…” man up?” There are millions of confident, strong, and powerful women out there—so why aren’t we all saying “woman up?” Also, it is absolutely crucial that we encourage sensitivity and emotional vulnerable from the men in our lives. Otherwise, we’ll continue to see the statistics that tell us that men are more likely to commit suicide, and less likely to seek out emotional support, therapy, and mental health treatment


6. Expect from your daughters what you expect from your sons.

Demand success, commitment, and perseverance regardless of sex or gender. Don’t let your little girls slack off because they have the “safety net” of marrying rich.

7. Stop using heteronormative language.

You know that widespread fear among Conservatives that gay parents will raise gay kids, as if every lesbian couple has a hidden agenda to turn their son or daughter into a raging homosexual? Well, who’s to say the real perpetrators aren’t straight moms and dads?  Allow your children to express their sexuality in their own way. Use gender neutral terms like “your future partner” or “your future spouse,” don’t just expect women to love men just because they’re women.

8. Discourage phrases such as “you run like a girl” and “fight like a man.”

Otherwise, we’ll find ourselves caught up in an endless cycle of harmful gender stereotypes, where women are perceived as weak and incompetent, and men are aggressive breadwinners.

If we don’t fix our gendering at its source, de-pink our nurseries, and de-bow our daughters, will we ever conquer the toxic masculinity and patriarchy that plague our everyday lives? And the answer is, that, sadly, we will never escape the shackles of gender norms, if we aren’t raised to believe that sexism is a force we must fight against. 

Photo Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Editor-in-chief of Her Campus Utah - Double major in English and Gender Studies - Lover of Oxford comma, hater of patriarchy. 
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