Somewhere in Parent Nation, a little girl is born to a loving family and she is instantly dubbed "The Princess." The expectation of pampering and doting is secured as she is swaddled in all things pink and frilly, giant bows on her bald little head, diamond studs in her perfect little earlobes and delicate, ruffled diaper covers. Dreams of teddy bear tea parties and lavish sweet sixteens fill her parents' heads even before she utters her first coo. Her parents vow to raise her to become a strong, smart, independent, successful woman who loves and respects herself completely and lives the life of her dreams. Down the Street in Parent Nation, a little boy is born to a loving family and he is instantly dubbed "The Boy." Rough and tumble, dirty and messy, there are no frills or fancy outfits for this little man -- unless you consider a first pair of baby jeans and sh*t kickers "fancy." He is swaddled in a blue blanket and handed to his beaming parents who are already picturing drum sets, finger painted walls, sports balls and broken bones, before he ever utters his first cry. His parents make a vow to raise him to be a brave, strong, honorable, successful man who respects and loves others. A gentleman who will go out of his way to be kind and chivalrous, provide for and protect his family with his life... a knight in shining armor.
We recognize the differences in our children's genders long before they do, and we raise them for as long as we can in the beliefs that we as their family have attributed to those differences.
Then, one day, something happens.
Our daughters become obsessed with being the "fairest of them all" while our boys are left struggling to find their place within the ranks.
Society and the media have seemingly turned all of their attention on the liberation and empowerment of girls and in the process, have discarded the basic needs of the masculine in our boys. As a result, somewhere during their childhood, we become afraid of our daughters... and we become disappointed with our sons.
It was not too long ago when parents were focused on raising their daughters to be and act like ladies. To be the model of manners and civility for their family and to be the nurturer, comforter, caregiver, teacher and glue that keeps a family together.
Boys on the other hand, were raised to be hard working, strong and resilient. The providers of everything from the roof over their families head to the safety and abundance within that home.
In those days, a good man would lay down his life for his wife and family and a good woman honored and respected him for doing so. Today, that man would be shamed for his assumption that a woman "needs" him to take care of her and the woman would be shamed for perpetuating the "women as the weaker sex" stereotype.
According to the #yesallwomen campaign, instead of telling our little boys that they should eat all their vegetables so they can get big and strong to protect mommy, we should teach them that protecting, touching or even hugging mommy without permission is offensive and degrading.
When we think about history and all things "romantic," many of the traditions we still hold today are based in chilvalry. It's the young man who is expected to "step up" and ask the girl out on a date... to provide transportation and even cover the expenses... but before he even has the opportunity to make the invitation, he is expected to ask the father of his intended if he is "allowed" to ask her to the dance... or for her hand in marriage. As the groom, the man stands on the right side of the bride for a very historically chivalrous reason -- so he had easier access to his weapon to defend his future wife. Men walk to the street side of their family so they can absorb any debris from the road or falling from the windows above. Men open doors so women are protected and escorted at all times. Men are expected to allow women and children to escape first to safety. Men must register for the draft. Men, traditionally, are the bug killers, mouse catchers and monster chasers.
Men are expected to be brave and strong to never get scared and never cry...
When we teach our girls that men and women are equal, do we now expect our girls to be the chivalrous ones? Do we demand of our daughters to dismiss their pain, fear, anger or fatigue, to not show their weakness, to never get scared... to never cry?
In many ways, women and men are very similar, we all have hopes, dreams, goals and desires. We all want to be happy, loved, accepted and successful -- whatever that success looks like for us -- but we have become so focused on that success that we have become unwilling to accept that in just as many ways as we are similar, we are also very, very different. And that's what makes us so perfect for each other.
We talk about balance being the Holy Grail of success, yet there can be no balance if we are constantly trying to be bigger than our other half.
If we really take a look at what we are creating in our attempt to 100% equalize gender, why is it that we are ok with shaming men for seeing women as precious, delicate, valuable, pretty and worthy of adoration and protection, but we don't shame women for seeing men as unnecessary, unappreciated, valueless and even vilifying them?
Why do we not see that what we are actually doing is killing chivalry? We are not teaching girls to be better, we are teaching them to be bitter. We are forcing them to dismiss their femininity, to abandon their softness and appreciation of qualities that differentiate them (in a good way) from men... and we are preparing our princesses for a feminist-inspired quest to rule their kingdom and to slay their knights in shining armor.
If we believe men have it so much better, why wouldn't we choose to rise up to that level and join them, rather than trample them beneath us and climb over them to be higher?
My hope for men and women everywhere is that we will abandon the quest for dominance over the opposite sex and seek instead to be united as kings and queens who each wield their masculine and feminine gifts to rule their kingdoms together.