Let's Hear it For the Boys

If you've been reading my blog for long enough you'll know I'm a huge fan of boys. Not just because I have a son who I adore but dear friends, a father, brother and husband I respect and admire greatly. I've even gone so far as to call myself a masculist but I'd like to instead refer to myself as a humanist, an equalist, someone who rallies behind whoever is getting ill-treated. And in my experience I have found the need to defend my son for being a boy on many more occasions than I have had to defend my daughter, sisters, self, for being female. 

A few years back I blogged the following and to this day stand by my words:

Today's Momversation starring the lovely Dana and Mindy rallies behind the importance of empowering our boys. Sticking up for our sons in the same way we do our daughters, doing away with the man-hate that has resulted in boy-hate that has resulted in Peter Pan syndrome, emasculation and insecurity. Not to mention the wrongful assumption that its okay (even expected!) for men and boys to be inadequate, slacker human beings. 

Boys are not stupid and rocks should not be thrown at them. Boys don't suck. The "penis" is not "the problem." 

Just like when a man disrespects a woman it shows his weakness, so does a woman disrespecting a man show hers. 



Em | 9:56 AM

I have to agree with you. I'm all for "girl power" but not if it means that the girl has to disrespect another human to get it. Even if that other human happens to be a boy. (can't we all just get along?)

I have only one child - a daughter - and I certainly will NOT be teaching her to "watch out" for boys. I have many boy (well, I guess since I'm a "grown-up" now we'll go with "man") friends and they enrich my life. They offer perspective and opinion and humor that I can't expect from my female friends.

My daughter is still a baby but I hope that I am able to teach her confidence that comes from within and compassion for others and that she can be friends with whomever she chooses, boys or girls. I just want her to learn to surround herself with people who are good on the inside, regarless of what they look like on the outside.

Anonymous | 9:59 AM

this is an interesting momversation. you're right respect has to go both ways, it has to go ALL ways. kids have to be taught well, boys and girls alike. it's a hard job.

Anonymous | 10:05 AM

I felt the same anger at the "Throw Rocks" art, and my friends rolled their eyes at my outrage.

"Amber," they said, "you are overreacting."

I pointed out how many thousands of "stupid women" in other countries get rocks thrown at them, because they got raped or showed their hairline, and how flipping the genders did NOT make it funny.

Miss M | 10:08 AM

Plain and simple; For every bad boy out there, there is a bad girl.

foodiemama | 10:28 AM

i haven't watched but i hear what you are saying! I shouted this out even before becoming the mother of a boy. I am sooooooo sick and tired of hearing woman saying this stereotypical ridiculous things about "men". woman complaining about their husbands, moms telling their daughters about icky boys, etc. should i tell my son the shit that goes on with girls? no.
this is a really great and fresh topic to explore!

Anonymous | 10:37 AM

Thank-you for bringing this topic to light again! As the mom of two incredible little boys I get so tired of the double standards they have to face. I understand why people with daughters want to make sure they are respected and given equal opportunities; but why does it have to be done at the expense of our boys?

My goal is to raise my boys to be amazing, caring, intelligent and respectful men. I will teach them to show respect to all people male or female and to demand that other's respect them in return. And if I ever have a daughter my expecatations will be the same.

Miss M | 10:50 AM

OK, now that I have watched the video, Mindy reminded me that my son isn't even born and I am already dealing with this issue. When she found out about my 2nd pregnancy, my mother told me that I "better have another girl" cause she doesn't "do boys" and will not change his diaper etc... Frankly it's her loss if she hinders her relationship with her grandchild because of his gender. I am prepared to do damage control when Nana comes to visit, The poor chap is still in utero!

ItsJustMe | 10:54 AM

Great blog post and food for thought … this is something I think about, as a single mom to my son, which is largely unexplored territory for me! It’s VERY important to me that he becomes a gentleman, and this all starts at home and making understand what humanism is. I agree that any kind of extremism is very dangerous.

It was nice to meet you and your kids yesterday 

Unknown | 11:02 AM

Hell yeah. Right on.

Sandi | 11:17 AM


Unknown | 11:49 AM

I worked retail in the mall, and I just wanted to say that most stores (including the one I worked at) have a visual designer who comes in once a month to do the window displays. The managers and other retailers that work there have nothing to do with that offensive t-shirt on the mannequin. I understand and agree with what you’re saying about those shirts, but if you really want something done about it the manager can’t do a thing. We were written up or yelled at for taking things off the mannequins. File a complaint with the company or owner of the store, but don’t yell at the manager. It isn’t their fault that the higher ups thought that man hating was “hot” this season.

Katy | 11:56 AM

Well, I think the main problem is that you should probably avoid going to malls:-)

I do see your point and I do agree with you.

HOWEVER, as a Feminist, living in a STILL MALE DOMINATED world, this is small potatoes.

Obama just, JUST, 2009, signed the Ledbetter Act. Marketing companies STILL Try to objectify little girls, (HELL BRATZ AND BARBIE), instances of rape have not gone down, women all over the world are still having acid thrown in their faces when they refuse the advances of men- or try to get an education- or try to go to work, young girls all over the world are still being sold into slavery and prostitution, in short, the world is still in need of Feminism, because our daughters are still being exploited by men.

I understand and agree that a "Throw Rocks at Boys" shirt is freaking stupid and inappropriate. I agree that the only message this sends is of bitterness and hatred, which is completely FUTILE for Feminism.


BUT, I stiffen when I hear women abandoning Feminism, because "Everybody needs to be taught to respect one another", which is true, but this world and our society are very much male dominated. Feminism is not about hating men and people who think that or perpetrate that stereotype are WRONG WRONG WRONG.

Feminism is about loving each other and the Earth. It is about supporting everyone, empowering everyone, safety, respect, kindness, life and power. Teaching your sons to be Feminists does not teach them to loath themselves, it teaches them to love mankind and to live a just life in fairness.

These negative stereotypes about Feminism are put forth by patriarchal fears and standards to keep women down.

Saying "Boys Suck" et al, is stupid and you have a right to be upset and to defend your sons. BUT,
remember how you feel right now the next time you see:

A half naked woman doing something suggestive on a:
Album Cover
Book Cover
DVD Cover
TV Show
Direct Mail Campaign
Side of a Bus
Park Bench

Or the next time you see a woman on a:
Album Cover
Book Cover
DVD Cover
TV Show
Direct Mail Campaign
Side of a Bus
Park Bench
Fretting about losing weight.

Or the next time you see a woman on a:
Album Cover
Book Cover
DVD Cover
TV Show
Direct Mail Campaign
Side of a Bus
Park Bench
Being peddled cleaning products, makeup, youth retaining serums, lingerie..............

I feel your anger and rage. These are feelings that I experience everyday when I see something that tells a woman that the only thing we are good for is sex and cleaning. Which is like, 90% of what is geared towards women..

**stepping down from the pulpit**

Anonymous | 12:01 PM

You blow my mind, Rebecca! You are the ONLY other woman I have EVER met who has felt the same way I do about this. I have called myself "masculist" as well and consider myself above all else a humanist. I learned in lower division psych classes for the first time about how men are forced into tiny boxes that define their gender roles and how women have such loose roles these days--and it's SO TRUE. I am not a great fan of "Hey I am a huge jock look at how macho I am" behavior but that is a societal wonk as well. I am NOT someone who considers herself a feminist--in fact, I just think everyone is a PERSON and we should treat people as PEOPLE and not assign such ridiculous "rules" to their behavior. And yes, empowering our men--that is something that my husband and I think is super important. When we have kids I really hope that we have at least one boy so that I can help mold them into the type of boys we can all be proud of. :)



How are those billboards worse or different (or more offensive) then men peddling beer and doritos and... slackerdom?

What about all the TV shows and movies that show men as being lazy football-loving, overweight, slack-asses to their beautiful, successful, fit and healthy wives?

How is that ANY LESS OFFENSIVE to a man than a woman parading around in lingerie, fretting about cleaning supplies and her weight is to a woman?

It is insane to me how INGRAINED it is in our culture that we do not think twice about how men are portrayed in the media... In television and even film? The cliches surrounding men and masculinity are just as prevalent as those surrounding women and femininity. Some of us just choose not to pay attention to the other side of the sexual divide.

Anonymous | 12:25 PM


The billboards Katy refers to are NOT as offensive as men peddling Doritos and slackerdom, because if the men choose to put the Doritos down and go get a job, they WILL make more than their female counterparts. That is a FACT.

Our society portrays women as sex objects/domestic slaves/dumb bimbos. This demeans women. Period. Men being portrayed as lazy beer guzzling sports fans? Is that really doing as much damage? I think you're trying to compare apples to oranges here.


I have never felt portrayed as a sex object, domestic slave or bimbo. THAT Is a fact. I've always felt empowered and never felt that men were trying to bring me down.

And the damage of men being portrayed as slackers IS doing as much damage... Because it's showing men that "society loves a slacker" when the truth is? Not so much. In most households, men are still expected to be the main breadwinner, to pick up the tab on a date, to spend three months pay on engagement rings for their fiancees, etc.

Katy | 1:06 PM

When the number of males world wide who are raped, murdered, disfigured, stalked, beaten, emotionally abused, sexually harassed, fired because of unplanned pregnancies, payed less because of their sex, starts to even go neck in neck with that of females, then you will have a point.

Until then, our society is dominated by white men. They make the money. They have the power. The kind of imagery that you're speaking about doesn't objectify or demean men.It doesn't prevent them form finding work. It doesn't put abnormal expectations in the mind of women, where we then in turn objectify men.....It shows that women have to be in the best shape to even wish to please a fat, lazy man. That guy has it made! :-)

I understand what you are saying and I agree with you. I find the subject matter of the t-shirts and posters you discussed to be rather anti-feminist. Feminism is not about bringing anyone down, men or women. That's my point and that is why the world still needs feminism.

The whole "MAN HATING FEMINIST" stereotype is ignorant and wrong, and should not be perpetrated on any side of any coin.

Rebecca, you're really lucky. But, your experience is really exceptional. I've been attacked, I've been raped, I've been sexually harassed on at least three jobs (and not just called honey). And it is not just about American women, it is about women around the world.

I understand what you are saying, but I don't think you have a holistic or positive view on Feminism. I believe that you have encountered a lot of negative stereotypes within Feminism, that are wrong and do not correctly portray what the movement is about.


"Rebecca, you're really lucky. But, your experience is really exceptional. I've been attacked, I've been raped, I've been sexually harassed on at least three jobs (and not just called honey). And it is not just about American women, it is about women around the world. "

So have I. But that doesn't mean MEN are BAD. That means there are some bad dudes out there just like there are some bad women out there. Women who give being female a bad rap.

And I'm not talking about everywhere in the world, obviously. I'm talking about day to day western world life... where women aren't being stoned or decapitated or made to wear burkas. I'm talking about the day in the life of a typical American woman vs the day in the life of a typical American man.

I'm talking about my son being disrespected because he has a penis. Not cool.

Amanda | 1:16 PM

a-MEN! heh.

I completely agree with you Rebecca, in both your post, and these last two comments I just read.

I may get flamed for this but I think stereotypes exist for a reason, and as sucky as that is, it is up to the INDIVIDUAL to be all that they can be to avoid being lumped into said stereotypes.

These adverts that display women as sexual objects are made by the same people who-

Make out African American men to look like rap stars and minimum wage workers in their advertisments.

Make African American women look like single mothers with a chip on their shoulder, or fast talking divas with an attitude.

Make Mexicans look like their here just for the service industry and their restaurants, or of course, to trim the 'white mans' hedges.

Make men look like slackers, eternal 'bachelors' OR 'the bread winner'.

It goes ALL ways. Not JUST women. So, I agree with you Bec, when I too say that I am a 'humanist'.

I'll be teaching my son that ALL people deserve respect, no matter their sex, race, ethics, or what advertisments have 'made them out to be'.

Anonymous | 1:20 PM

What a wonderfully thought provoking post, Rebecca. Though I would like to say that your thoughts seem to stem solely from your own experience and not from the majority of what other women experience. Southern California is but one part of the vast and diverse country we live in. Even in this country, even in the 21st century, there are thousands of women who still feel inferior to men for many, many reasons, and there are thousands of men who continue to try to make them feel inferior. If you had asked me 8 years ago I wouldn't have agreed with this statement, having been raising in a family where my mother was the chief breadwinner and my parents had a mutually supportive relationship. However, I ended up going to college in a very small, very rural, very old-fashioned town, and was shocked by how certain men thought it was ok to speak to me - i.e., attributing my less-than-stellar driving to the fact that I'm a woman, my inability to do math to the fact that I'm a woman, all of the typical end-of-adolescence mistakes I made to the fact that I'm a woman - and this is nothing compared to not one, but two, of my friends who were expected to take the blame for having been raped. And this was in the United States. Women have a lot more to contend with in most countries overseas.

That being said, I agree with your ideas on the word "feminism." Most feminists today say that feminism just means demanding equal rights for women. Equal rights - so why don't we just call it equalism?

I could go on but this is already getting too long.

Thanks for introducing this topic.

Stephanie | 1:39 PM


I really believe that the belittling of men has only made women look weaker. I believe that I'm a strong, smart woman who married an equally strong, smart man. I don't have a son, but I'm hoping that I could be a mother who could empower a boy to be masculine.

I hate the "hollywood-ization" of the slacker dad or the man who only wants to watch sports and can't change a diaper.

I love posts like this that make people remember that both men and women are good.

Katy | 1:43 PM

Then you are not "hearing me", Rebecca. I never once, nor claimed that Feminism claims that "men are bad". I don't feel that way, nor does Feminism. I don't like the Patriarchy (which is made up of men and women). That is male, but I don't hate, nor do I want to punish or demean males or men.

Feminism is about empowerment for humans collectively.... it just happens to be the first "ism" that ever included females. It has never been about bringing men down.

That's all I have to say. Great, topic, BTW.


Good point that patriarchy is made up of men and women. I absolutely agree with you there. It really is about RESPECT for me... As in, in order to demand respect you must first give it and I feel like that is not necessarily the case in many instances, unfortunately.

I guess the word humanism makes more sense to me than feminism. There's a great collection of Anais Nin lectures called "A Woman Speaks" where she talks about being a humanist, an equalist... A book ever woman (and man for that matter) should read.

Katy | 2:01 PM

I shall read it! Thanks for the suggestion.

Angelica | 2:01 PM

You know you have totally enlightened me on this topic. This is coming from someone who wants to be fortunate enough to have a son one day, currently I'm lucky enough to have a beautiful daughter. I never saw things the way you saw them. I always felt like men were seen as superior so all I wanted was change and feminism. Although I'm not the best example of it but I never saw the whole man hate affecting young boys because I had never been around them and I just thought of how it affected girls. I was taught almost to be afraid of boys and be weary of them. I don't want my little girl to grow up that way because I know it affected me a lot. I love your blog and it always makes me see things in a new light. Honestly man hate should stop and the whole "this is what men are like" should stop because society is truly creating what they most hate. Inequality. I feel like I'm rambling but thank you for this post.

Vodka Mom | 2:30 PM


Allison the Meep | 2:46 PM

Oh my gosh. I walked into that exact same art gallery with my son when he was tiny and got so pissed at that painting. It isn't funny or cute. If the same were said about girls, a celebrity lawyer like Gloria Allred would be all over it and people would be protesting. But if it's said about boys, we're just supposed to giggle and think it's cute. But it isn't cute. It's hurtful - to both boys and girls.

We need to respect each other as humans, as equals. Boys get a bad rap, and it's ridiculous.

When my son was about 2, we were in a grocery store in Studio City and he saw a baby girl, about a year old. His response was to say, "Hi pretty girl!" I'm not kidding you, this baby's father jumped all over him and said things like "Get away from her! It's boys like you who I have to worry about. Don't touch my daughter!!" This was not said with humor or irony. He was dead serious. This man said these things to a very small child, who had no idea what the hell this jerk was going on about. I can only imagine the stupid things he's going to hear when he's a high schooler, and the ways he'll be stereotyped just for being in possession of a penis.

Thanks for bringing up this topic.

Anonymous | 3:06 PM

As a mom of a boy, I definitely agree with you. I want my son to feel empowered and valued as much as I would my daughter. Great and interesting dialogue.


OMG, Allison? That's HORRIBLE. I recently overheard a mom up in arms because a 6 year old was "sexually harassing" her 3 year old daughter. And it was the same thing! A little boy came up to her daughter told her he thought she was pretty. A SIX YEAR OLD!!! That is NOT sexual harassment, it's insanity.

It breaks my heart.

Wendy Woolf | 4:00 PM

Like Rebecca, I think we have created a mindset of “boys suck” and encouraged a generation of boys to believe that “it’s ok to be a slacker.” The media has made a laughing stock of smart boys (Steve Urkel is one good example) and has made it cool to be a slacker (most of the teen movies and ads). Most of the video games are targeted to teenage boys and millions of them spend hours unsupervised playing these games instead of studying for school. USA Today describes a new problem…men not attending college. http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2005-10-19-male-college-cover_x.htm This is a REAL problem and throwing out statistics about the abuse of women world wide HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS TOPIC!!! Rebecca isn’t saying that women haven’t been mistreated…she is saying that as women, we must not do the same…the old Golden Rule, guys!! Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right. All of those wonderful sayings that WE SHOULD BE TEACHING OUR CHILDREN!! To quote the USA today article:

“ As women march forward, more boys seem to be falling by the wayside…Not only do national statistics forecast a continued decline in the percentage of males on college campuses, but the drops are seen in all races, income groups and fields of study, says policy analyst Thomas Mortenson, publisher of the influential Postsecondary Education Opportunity newsletter in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Since 1995, he has been tracking — and sounding the alarm about — the dwindling presence of men in colleges… (E)ven as evidence of a problem — a crisis, some say — mounts, "there's a complacency about this topic," McCorkell says.
A highly publicized 1992 report by the American Association of University Women, How Schools Short-Change Girls…compiled reams of research on gender inequities.
That study "really ... got people to focus on girls ... (but) there is no big network that protects the needs of boys," says family therapist Michael Gurian, author of the just-published The Minds of Boys: Saving Our Sons from Falling Behind in School and Life, which argues that elementary and secondary schools aren't meeting the developmental needs of boys.”

The book, The Minds of Boys, will open up your minds to a real problem that really exists. We, as mothers, need to educate ourselves about this problem and do everything we can to make sure we raise strong, confident girls AND boys.

Anonymous | 4:27 PM

As a guy (and for full disclosure, the Blogger's Brother), maybe my opinion is worth something here.

There are a number of things, as I see it, that are true.
1. (Old) men still dominate society.

2. These old men are mostly power hungry idiots, and are all to be blamed for the current global financial crisis that we are in.

3. The current male archetype in movies (a.k.a Seth Rogen) is a do-nothing slacker stoner who has no real desire to advance his life beyond its current state. And yes, the fact that this is how society sees us (and lets face it, expects and wants us to be, to some extent), it offends me.

4. Nearly every guy I knew growing up can be described this way. Why? Because honestly, we never did have anyone telling us that we should go forth and be successful! There were no clubs in schools aimed at boys, besides sports. There were no speakers who came to talk specifically about career choices for men. Seeing the other sex have all of these perks did and still does have a completely adverse effect on boys and young men, especially when its continuous and ongoing.

I do not pretend to know what it's like to have grown up female, to have dealt with lecherous and exploitive men. But I do know what it was like to have never have been encouraged by the outside world to be whatever I wanted.

And really, that disparity needs to end.

Anonymous | 5:25 PM

Thank you Rebecca, this post is so right on!!! I could not agree more with you and I am just as concerned about what our culture is doing to the boys and men of our country. I started reading your posts afer I read your book last year and they always leave me amazed at your insight and profundity. I'm also amazed that I wholeheartedly agree with you 99.9% of the time, given that I'm pretty opinionated myself. Anyways, this is my first post on your blog and I'm writing because I wanted to recommend a book to you that I read while I was pregnant with my son a couple years ago. It's a fabulous book that stands up for our boys and shows the psychology behind their young minds, showing us exactly what they need from us as parents, teachers and community to raise and foster them to be incredible MEN. It's called "The Wonder of Boys" and it's by Michael Gurian. He also makes a case for how we're overlooking the needs of our boys currently in our society and they're often getting left in the dust in the wake of "Feminism" and it's aftermath. Everyone needs to read this book - not just mom's of boys, but moms of girls and Feminists and educators alike. Because EVERYONE has a stake in helping the boys of our nation become successful, secure, well-funcioning men! I'm so happy to hear about you and other women feeling the same way! Maybe there is hope for the future of our boys after all.

Anonymous | 5:48 PM

I have a daughter and three sons; grown kids. When I grew up in the south, we girls had to do everything as far as chores, and whatever it took to make boy's lives easier. When we traveled out-of-state in a camper-covered pick-up truck, we four girls had to huddle to one side so our brother could "stretch out" - I became determined to make it EQUAL when and if I became a mother. All of my kids shared equal chores, equal rewards, etc. At the holidays when I was a kid, the females cooked, everyone ate, and then the females cleaned up while the males farted around, played cards, and nodded off in the other rooms. Holidays with my kids, everyone cleans up afterward. Good thing I'm not bitter...

EdenSky | 5:56 PM

I had never really thought about this before, thanks for changing that!
I was a girl raised by a single mother. I had aunts but no uncles. All of my mom's friends were women and all of my friends were girls. My impressions of maleness really did come from the media. I didn't date until I was s16, because I felt men were dangerous and I really couldn't see any point in building realationships with them. It wasn't until I met my partner, and by extension his family and friends, that I learned that men can be good and kind and intelligent and worth having around for reasons other than lifting heavy stuff. Now I have 2 daughters and I wonder if I have been subconsiously feeding them the "men are inferior" line. I'll be much more aware from now on.
I followed the trails from this post and read the Blindfold post, and I thought it was brilliant. I was just wondering if your feelings are the same now? If little girls should not be shielded from questionable influences like Super Sex Barbie, then why should "Boys Suck" t-shirts be banned? Doesn't it follow that childern of either sex should be able to see the stereotypes that shape the world they inhabit so that they can grow up to be thoughtful individuals, prepared for the hurdles that they will have to overcome? If all parents decided to raise empowered, intelligent, respectful children then feminism and masculism could be obsolete within one generation, but we all know that ignorance won't be stamped out so easily. Should the art gallery be forces to take down the "Boys Are Stupid" posters, or should parents bring their sons to see it with their eyes wide open so that they can appreciate just how wrong it is?

Anonymous | 6:13 PM

The job of any woman who calls herself a feminist is to make sure that the stereotypes die with the up and coming generations.

That we raise our kids with non of the hideous stereotypes that affect BOTH genders.

yes, Katy women are treated in insanely horrifying ways around the world....THAT has to end...

But again it will only be through empowerment and education that that will happen.

We bitch and complain that men 'don't get it' or are 'lazy' or are holding us back under glass ceilings...but WE are the one's raising these boys who become advertisers, corporate leaders, politicians, wife beaters, whatever....

WE the women have to make sure our boys and girls are raised to believe in respect and honesty for both genders.

My son is far kinder and gentler than my daughter.

We fight constantly with his teacher who is very girl centered and has pigeonholed the boys as trouble while the girls are all young geniuses..at age 6.

This is what we have to fight against...the older generations teaching the young one's the old ways.

Anonymous | 6:21 PM

i totally understand where youre coming from with these generations of "lost boys". growing up, the girls went on to college and careers and the guys went on to smoke/grow weed. i also agree that men are portrayed in a terrible manner in our society. however, i somehow felt like this post took away from feminism. while boys do have their struggles, it's rare to find a guy who has struggled with bulimia for 8 years partially due to media and advertising. in the end, i believe there is NO way to compare the state of men to the state of women in our society.


The fact that you think a post about empowering boys is taking away from feminism is exactly the problem.



Also Crunchy Carpets? Exactly. Thank you.

Anonymous | 6:43 PM

Seriously, BOTH genders are shoved into tiny boxes and expected to act certain ways and it just makes me sick.

I am the mother of two gorgeous little boys whom I am told should be "toughened up" and told to stop crying. Who shouldn't play with dolls or kitchens and above all should not wear pink, or love to dance or enjoy flowers.

Anyone who thinks that patriarchy only hurts women is ill-informed.

Anonymous | 6:43 PM

I have a son (4). And a daughter(5). Recently, my son said (at the breakfast table): "Guys. I totally love my penis."

You know what my daughter's response was? She told him "That's cool. I don't have one, but it's okay. I've got other cool stuff."

They're comfortable in their own skin. My daughtetr plays football with the boys. My son plays Barbies with his sister, just because he knows it makes her happy. (Although, he will only play with the boy doll).

We teach our kids to be people. Individuals, with thoughts, and opinions, and care for others, just because we're freaking human. People fear what they don't understand. And what they fear, they want to eviscerate. So many women don't understand the male mind, and their fear motivates a testosterone hate that's completely unnecessary.

If our daughters struggle with their body image, it's not because men put that on them. It's because other women do. Poll a thousand men on the street, and you'd be hard-pressed to find one with the same standards that we place on ourselves.

Anonymous | 7:05 PM

I enjoyed reading about this topic. I haven't really thought about it before, but I'm sure that man-hate is there for me to notice. In the future, I'll be more apt to notice it and call shenanigans.

Also? Calling attention to the plight of one group needn't detract from the struggles of another. No need to play Opression Olympics ( http://tinyurl.com/OpressionOlympics ).

Anonymous | 7:11 PM

actually. i think i'm responding to comments, wasn't my intention to take away from your post!

Wendy Woolf | 7:47 PM
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wendy Woolf | 7:54 PM

Barbie dolls being too sexy can be compared to GI Joes being too macho, but not to a little girl wearing a hateful t-shirt. The dolls, although stereotypes, are not mean. A mother can choose to buy them or choose not to. She can be the censor. The hate t-shirts on other peoples' children? Not so much. We live in a free society which allows such t-shirts. My question is, why would anyone buy them?

Angelica | 8:25 PM

I just thought about a situation in my own family. My aunt has two children a son and a daughter and her son was raised to be a macho kind of boy who shouldn't like anything that is related to girls and is doing very badly in school. But since he's going to be a "farm boy" nobody cares. They just make fun and think it's ok for him because he has a "chosen" path. While her daughter is praised for doing well in school and gets praised for being very "girly" and wanting to play with babies. It hurts to see them but there's nothing I can do. I just think of how they're going to grow up completely different and not change a thing in this world by being raised that way.

Anonymous | 8:29 PM

as a mother of a son i am so into the idea that boys should not be made to dislike themselves-nor should they be made into girls (which is a whole other topic).

that being said, bec-you are crazy if you think men do not demand women respect them all the time. and they demand it with brutal words or demeaning actions.

in my business life all day long, i hear how i am one of the boys because women are not worthy of being execs. how they are just something to be leered at or discussed sexually.

trust me when i tell you, sexism is still huge and our girls still have a long road to go. but they are not going to get anywhere by dismissing boys. that i get.

girls need to be empowered and it cannot come at the expense of my son or anyone else's.

Anonymous | 8:36 PM

If there's going anything on this planet that going to enjoy all the very best privileges from birth, it's going to be a white male baby. After that it's a sorry historic fact that anything that deviates by creed, colour or sex will be less fortunate to varying, depressing degrees.

It seems a little reactionary to decry some t-shirt slogans poking fun at an almost unassailable natural social advantage.

It's like the rich deploring the state of taxation.


It's reactionary to be pissed that my four year old son is reading "boys are stupid throw rocks at them" in the window of a mall? It's reactionary to demand equal respect for all human beings? It's reactionary to disagree with anti-male sentiment when trying to raise an empowered son?

Well then color me reactionary, baby,

Still Life With Coffee | 9:34 PM

you rock!
Loved your post. Totally agree with you! You say it so well.

mames | 10:31 PM

wow, some comments on the topic, huh?

i have 5 brothers, two sons and a amazing husband who i basically grew up with since our late teens. they are complex, wonderful human beings that i feel much more comfortable with. than most women, is what i mean.

i must be pretty insulated in some ways because i never really thought about this, the man hate thing, because i don't hate them and i have had some pretty good models of men in life.

my boys, well, i aim to empower them in all ways, as people, as penis carriers, as equal wonderful human beings. it makes me crazy that there is so much total division in how we see boys.

i tend to ascribe the problems with our society as a whole, that we are fucking our boys and girls up pretty equally. if we choose to let them be raised in the current model and beliefs that is our culture they will get the negative messages, but if we choose a new way, we might empower them all enough to move us forward in thought and action and life to one of respect.

'nuff said. i love your writing, your thinking and your comments to some of the folks flinging stuff. and from what i have read, me thinks archer is going to be just fine with a bad ass mama like you.

Amanda | 3:42 AM

I really appreciated this post and this ep of Momversation, because I have to be honest and say I never really thought about it from that POV - not that I go around saying "boys suck" or whatever, because I don't, and I have lots of guy friends, etc, etc, but as a mother of a daughter, I am going to be much more aware of how I present the opposite sex to her.

Lia | 5:51 AM

Rebecca, I love your blog and this one especially made me think. I grew up with a single mom and my dad is, let's face, it a bit of a jerk. I was lucky enough to have a great grand-father to see that all men weren't horrible like daddy.
I have a son now, and I am struggling with how to raise him to be a great man. Me and my husband talk a lot about this and my husband often says stuff like "lucky he's not a girl that's gonna have all these shitty little boys wanting to f** her" and I always reply "well what if he turns out to be one of those shit kids that don't respect women and fights and stuff" It's hard being a mother to a boy. You have to teach them to believe in themselves and to believe in their ability to do anything they want to do and to still be humble and respectful to others. But on the other hand I guess it's equally hard to be a mother to a daughter.

This might be a bit off topic but have you seen those Whiskas cat food ads where the cat is a person. Well have you ever thought of the outcry that would cause if the cat-person was a girl and not a boy. Just imagine a grown woman asking for protein and rolling on a mans lap while being scratched behind the ears. I think if we do ads we should make ads where the main character can be either a boy or girl.

Sorry if this post is a bit incoherent, I just got inspired and started rambling.

oh and sorry if this got posted twice my internet is acting up.

karengreeners | 5:57 AM

As much as I secretly wish baby girls on my pregnant friends, I rejoice when they have boys, because I know they will raise them to be such awesome men.

Jesse | 7:25 AM

As the older sister to two brothers (and mother of a girl), it breaks my heart to hear over and over that my brothers (who treat women they date with respect) are disrespected, and then they have to go along and hear their girl friends complain how men treat them badly.

It's circular - you treat men badly, and pretty soon men'll treat YOU badly. You respect men (and I didn't say cowtow to them, just respect them for who they are), and men - real men - will give respect to you in return.

I always liked the comment on My Big Fat Greek Wedding when the mother says (paraphrase) that the father may be the head of the family but that she (the mother) is the neck, and the neck CAN turn the head. And I think that this is key - there ARE times that men or women are better suited for situations. In our quest for equality, many women have made the mistake of thinking that we should be treated BETTER than men to make up for the past. I don't agree with that idea - in fact, I think it degrades us as women. Instead, I think that we should realize that the past is PAST - teach your sons and daughters to BOTH value life, and to respect each other - and just as we would teach our kids that no race or culture is better, so should we also teach that no sex is better.

Thanks for this timely discussion! :)

Anonymous | 7:34 AM

i love this "Just like when a man disrespects a woman it shows his weakness, so does a woman disrespecting a man show hers. "

thank you.

Jesse | 7:34 AM

PS. You might really like http://artofmanliness.com the authors are a husband-wife team that tackle the issue of being manly while still maintaining the HEALTHY respect for women (and no, I don't mean "putting the little woman in her place" either) *grin*

Anonymous | 9:37 AM

this is a great topic. as a woman pregnant with twin boys, i have a great deal of fear associated with the various stereotypes that men face.

yes, women do face more oppression globally and more easily recognizable stereotypes. to shoot down the notion that men/boys do not face their own forms of media stereotyping is really close minded.

it's not antifeminist sentiment to express these less addressed issues. as a matter of fact, since it is hardly discussed, most of these negative forms of media are internalized and either acted upon, or pushed in the back of one's mind.

the backlash of a simple observation regarding a really ridiculous and, honestly, offensive t-shirt slogan shows that we all (women and men) have a GREAT DEAL of work to do in trying to co-exist in an equal, peaceful, respectful way.


Very eloquently said, mydaydreamnation and congratulations!

Beth | 11:50 AM

While I totally agree that empowering you girls through disrespecting young boys is not empowerment at all, and that these shirts are dumb, I think this whole post/"momversation" misses the point a little and ignores larger issues.

Yes, these shirts are derogatory towards boys and they shouldn't exist, and it is really terrible that they would confuse anyone's young child. But in the world of feminist (humanist, I suppose if you're post-feminist, though NO ONE should be), they are just a drop in the bucket of the messaging that society/the media/capitalism feeds our children.

Everyday kids (and adults) are bombarded with images that tell us how we should act, relate to each, what we need, mostly to sell us things we don't. And to be realistic, this structure, though it hurts both sexes, repeatedly and thoroughly tells women that they are flighty, shallow, dumb, and vane.

Men are hurt by sexist imagery too. And I'm sick of the media telling men that they "just can't help themselves," that their masculinity is based on power over women, that it's cool to denegrate women, or that they are abnormal or weak for showing emotion.

All that said, men and women suffer interpersonally and on other levels from all of this imagery, some where some ad exec decided that the gender wars sold products and now it's ok to think that we can't relate to each/it's funny to put down the other gender, and that is disempowering to men and women (let along disenfranchises greatly anyone who doesn't fit into this silly male-female dichotomy).

That said, the "man hate" claims make me a little uncomfortable, because yes, all of this is bad for men and women, but all-in-all, structurally it benefits men in terms of access and entitlement to certain outlets of power, government, capital, and otherwise. Society does not "hate men" it privileges them, and associating feminism and girl power with "man hate" has LONG been a (successful) way of tearing them down.

denese | 11:59 AM

putting in my own "amen sista!"

my husband hopes we only have girls, because he is TERRIFIED of raising a son. he fears that his son will be just like him, making the same mistakes he did when he was young (he made a lot of serious womanizing mistakes, among other horribly stereotypical male traits). it's so hard for me to see this fear manifest in him, harder still to continuously reiterate to him that a son would be his chance for redemption: he could raise the man he now knows he should have been. he either cannot or will not realize this great chance.

i'm going to make sure he reads this post. i think (i should say, i fucking HOPE) it will help him get over these man issues. thank you!

The Panic Room | 4:36 PM

OH MY! I need to come back and take a look thru these comments. Some serious discussions to take in.

Anonymous | 6:33 PM

It is really sad to me that a message like "Boys suck" is labeled as feminist. The media and pop culture portrays feminists as man-hating lesbians who think men are unnecessary nuisances. I hang out with a lot of feminists and am one myself, and I don't know a single one who endorses those kinds of beliefs. Feminism is about how gender roles are restrictive and how patriarchy hurts society. It is not at all about throwing rocks at boys; I would label that kind of message as distinctly anti-feminist. The fact that that kind of message is associated with feminism makes me think that the conservative movement's attempts to undermine the essential efforts of feminism by spreading negative stereotypes about feminists has succeeded. And that makes me really sad.

Anonymous | 6:42 PM

A boy could NEVER get away with wearing a shirt that says "Girls Suck." It should go both ways.


Who is labeling "Boys Suck" shirts as feminist? Who is associating girl power with man hate?

My point isn't that feminism is anti-male but that men are also victims of unfair treatment and we should be sensitive to THEIR feelings as well.

I find it fascinating that this post is to so many women "anti woman"... To me that says more about the state of feminism than anything. And that makes ME really sad.

Anonymous | 6:51 PM

I let my son wear a necklace to a class recently. He saw me wearing one so he wanted one. I was thankful all the other women commented on how cool it was. Today he wanted a hair clip, his babysitter giggled, I promptly said sure.

He plays with trucks, cars, his penis and has a baby stuffed monkey he sleeps with.

I want to make him into a wonderful man and am trying to allow him to explore whatever he wants without other people saying "that's not what boys do."

When he tells me I'm pretty, I think he's perfect.


Anonymous | 7:13 PM

Valerie, it actually does go both ways. My girls have to see Hooters and mudflap girls on t-shirts (and mudflaps). Even heard of people taking their boys to Hooters for their birthdays. Really? Seriously? This isn't learning respect for women. Yes, the "boys suck" t-shirts are horrible. I believe in empowering both sexes. I do know that I encourage both my sons and daughters to become president. I also know that my daughters see that the position has been filled only by men.

Melissa | 7:17 PM

I love this post. I am only twenty and I don't have any children (yet!) but I think you make such a wonderful point in saying that we should try and treat each other as equals. Why is it so hard to imagine ourselves in others' shoes?

As for that tshirt, I remember when I was in high school they had a whole franchise--pencil cases, shirts, PJs, etc. It is so sad that things like that sell. I can understand letting out a "guys suck!" to your best friend with a mouth full of chocolate after a bad breakup, but to really, truly, feel that way and support that idea all of the time is sort of ridiculous.

I love reading your blog. :)

Anonymous | 7:46 PM

I think that resisting the feminist label as a response to seeing degrading messages about boys (especially when you espouse feminist ideals, such as equality and respect for all) implies that these messages are feminist.

Of course, people can label themselves (or not) however they feel comfortable. As a movement though, the label serves a function of uniting people who share beliefs about equality and the importance of critically examining patriarchial norms and gender roles.

I don't see this post as "anti woman," although I could see how someone could. However, that perspective falls into a trap of an us v. them mentality, which I think is really harmful (and not feminist!).

I DO see this post as containing feminist messages (e.g., that people should not be degraded based on that gender, that gendered messages hurt society, etc.), yet actively resisting the feminist label. As I said before, I think that the label is definitely voluntary. But, I also question why people are so resistant to the label when they seem to endorse feminist beliefs, and I am concerned by what that resistance could mean for achieving feminist goals.


Honestly its as simple as feeling "humanist" is more equal opportunity. Because although I agree that women have a long way to go, I also think our boys are being held back and held down in ways that are being overlooked, ignored and denied.

Katie! | 8:18 PM

I'm a recent convert to your blog, through Momversation. I wanted to comment on this particular installment because it is the first one to really, deeply affect me. I'm a new mother to a little boy, just five months old (born right before Fable, I think!). This whole issue had simply never occurred to me until I watched the video. How is that possible? I don't even know, but it's true and now I'm preemptively horrified and offended for my sweet, perfect little boy. I am grateful for having some foreknowledge about this so I can be prepared to deal with this if ( or :( when) it happens. Thanks and keep up the excellent work.

Anonymous | 9:45 PM

GGC, I always enjoy reading your posts and your readers' comments, even though we often don't agree. On this topic, I whole-heartedly agree with you.

Laura, I consider myself to be very "pro-woman" and equally as "pro-man." But I, too, don't adopt the "feminist" label. The label implies that I agree with many ideas and positions with which I simply don't. I know that's not how it SHOULD be, and I know that's not what the feminist movement intends. On several occasions, people have explained to me that calling myself a "feminist" does not imply that I believe anything in particular about any given topic. But, from experience, I just haven't seen that in action. To call myself a feminist would be to open the door for several assumptions to be made, that I believe or do not believe in X, Y, or Z, and I'm just not comfortable with those assumptions. Is it the way it should be? No. But it's the way it is, so I'll stick to calling myself a humanist, too.

Anonymous | 10:41 PM

What a great post. I especially liked your brother's comment. I grew up in a female dominated household and now live in a male dominated household with 3 sons. All I can say is that finding your place in the world is difficult no matter what your sex is.
Can't we all just get along?

Anonymous | 5:57 AM

K, I think that a lot of people probably feel the way you do. Nobody likes false assumptions to be made about them. On the other hand, it makes me wonder where those false assumptions come from, and it seems likely that they originate with the stereotypes about feminists that have been concocted as a way of undermining efforts for gender equality. If everyone is scared away from the feminist label because of those stereotypes, then that plan worked. And that's what I think is kind of sad, as I mentioned in my first comment. How can feminism be defined for what it is (i.e., efforts for gender equality, not man-hate) when people who espouse feminist beliefs don't identify as feminist?

I also think that the label should be feminist rather than humanist because the term feminist shows homage for feminists who have come before us and, because of the history of the feminist movement, already has philosophy, literature, leadership, etc. Also, and perhaps this is where GCC and I disagree, the term recognizes that, on the whole, women are oppressed more than men. Does that mean that men are not harmed by gender roles and patriarchy? No. Does that mean that messages like "Boys suck" are not sexist? No. Does that mean that those messages are feminist? No. What it does mean is that women suffer more that men based on our current state of gender affairs. Women are paid less for equal work (although hopefully that will change with the Lilly Ledbetter Act!), underrepresented in politics, victims/survivors of rape, etc. To me, it is important to acknowledge the systemic oppression of women by using a term like feminist. The problem is that the term has been blackmarked as ONLY being about the oppression of women, as a way of undermining its efforts (which actually aim to benefit all of society, both men and women). The ways that feminism has helped men (e.g., pushing for parental leave instead of just maternal leave, decrying sexist messages aimed at men as well as women, etc.) have been ignored, or at best downplayed, so as to paint feminism as a women v. men movement. It is very easy to criticize a movement that is about women v. men because that kind of mentality is really problematic in many ways. But that is not feminism.

Beth | 8:33 AM

I think my major problem with the discussion in this webversation is it's limitation in deeply exploring what's going on here. Yeah, the T-shirts are really offensive, but let's look a little more to the root of the issue. I am not a mother, so I understand that there is a level to your anger that I don't get yet, but I think there are some deep flaws in the concern expressed here.

Mostly, I think it is incredibly important to draw a difference between media's representation of disrespect for men/boys, individual women disrespecting men and boys, and both of these from feminism. The argument here seems to be convoluted a little between anger at the media and anger at women. The images that you describe are not acts of disrespect specifically towards your children or any children they are part of a system of marketing that capitalizes on these sentiments. I think that Dana's discussion of inequality confuses this here. Besides showing very little sympathy or understanding of what it might be to be from a marginalized community here, you say that "some groups seek equality by putting others down." Who are you talking about here in this instance? What groups are trying to reach equality by making t-shirts that say boys suck? There aren't any, you are confusing two issues, conflating women's rights activism with these t-shirts, and, yes, I do have a problem with this.

More importantly, the larger "men getting the shaft" is SO much bigger than these shirts, and what is discussed here. There is no addressal here of how the media and society demonizes and stereotypes certain types of men, specifically men of color, far more than a silly t-shirt. This may not be the point of the post-but it is incredibly important to the topic.

Anonymous | 9:21 AM

I watched this Momversation the other night, and I have to admit that it was a topic I'd never even considered before.

Although I believe in equality, in equal ability and service for all, I have a hard time getting behind ideas like this one because I think it promotes over-sensitivity, which leads to more PC crap. You heard me: PC CRAP. I hate the PC world.

So my natural tendency is to think that topics like this are over-reactions. The shirt is obviously not intended to be taken literally, nor would anyone say it should be. It's meant to take advantage of a long-standing societal joke that men are blubbering fools, just like there are long-standing jokes about women. My husband has a shirt that shows a ball and chain and says "We're all married to the same woman." Okay, some people might think it's derogatory, but I think that's an over-reaction. It's a joke, it's meant to be funny, it's meant to take advantage of a societal norm, which includes one sex making jokes about the other. It doesn't mean anyone actually thinks all women are the same or that all wives are a ball and chain.

I don't think boys suck or that rocks should be thrown at them. And I do agree that disrespecting any person - the same sex or otherwise - is a despicable display of a person's weakness. Please don't think that I think EVERY occurrence or joke or stereotype in the world is fair, but in this case, I do think that those particular items are meant as jokes. And I honestly feel that the INTENT is far more important, in this case, than the interpretation.

Anyway, moving on, I'm looking forward to how the Prop 8 court case turns out and what you have to say about it =) I didn't realize until I heard an NPR broadcast yesterday that everything kicked off tomorrow.


Totally hear you on the PC thing. Drives me nuts, too. I just KNOW a stink would have been made had the huge canvas in the window said "Girls are stupid. Throw Rocks at them" and my point of the video was to address that there is indeed a double standard. And I think parents have a tendency to look away when it comes to the media marginalizing their sons, dwelling instead on the sexist/derogatory issues regarding their daughters. I feel like someone's gotta stick up for the the boys, yo.

Also, as per the videos being light on details. We have 45 minutes of footage at the get and it gets edited down to 5 minutes. For this particular subject producers chose to dwell on the Boys Suck shirts when that was only a small part of the discussion.

I do as always appreciate the discussion and everyone's intelligent insight and respectful debate. You ladies rock. :)

Beth | 10:35 AM

Agreed, yay for discussion. Also, I found this on another blog:


Maybe T-shirts/the clothing industry is a bigger deal than I give it credit for! Shameful.

Anonymous | 11:49 AM

Okay, I will give you that parents, as with most of the public, have a tendency to focus more on the derogatory issues which affect their daughters than those that affect their sons. I already admitted that this particular topic hadn't even entered my realm of awareness until the Momversation episode entered my life lol, so if I'm not a posterchild of proof of that statement, I don't know what is.

Just because I don't personally agree with everything there doesn't mean I can't admit that you have a damned good point from that standpoint.

And also, I'm so with you on the PC world STINKING. It's unbelievable.

Anonymous | 3:36 PM

humanists rule.

haters of any and all kind drool.

nuff said.

Sweet Pea | 10:31 AM

read this:


totally addresses this issue - Raising Cain

Anonymous | 5:11 PM

Ok, I get that the "throw rocks at boys" shirt is ridiculous. But do you honestly mean to compare the issues young girls face with maybe a few boys getting their feelings hurt? Last time I checked, a man never had to worry about where he parks at night, whom he goes out with, where he set his drink, if he is only making 75% as his equally qualified co-worker, all because of his gender. Young boys indeed face many issues, but a lot of those are perpetuated by the rigidity of a patriarchal society. Men experience emotional difficulty in their lifetime due to the fact that there are deemed weak if the exhibit "feminine" traits such as sensitivity, sentimentality, etc. I think the crisis you seem to be so concerned about is the fact that boys no longer can expect an uneven playing field, and that will take some adjustment. Yes, girls tend to do better in school and often advance into higher education. As I posted in your "Masculinist" post, this is because young girls are socialized to be quiet and do as they are told. So this system backfires on men and I am supposed to feel sorry that they can't keep up? Ridiculous.

I love men, and always will. I recognize that young boys face unique challenges and agree with some of the innate hypocrisy in young women who demand equal pay yet expect men to foot the bill at dinner. But I refuse to accept this delusional "emergency" you are perpetuating when there is a more than likely chance that my daughter (and all other women) will be the victim of a sexual assault in her lifetime.
You feel superior because you think you belong in the "boys club", we GET IT.


Anger and insults will do little to get your point across my dear stranger.

marzi | 1:36 PM

i finally got around to viewing this video and i just wanted to say, "thank you". i'm a mother of 2 young boys and while i had never really thought of these issues the way you laid out in this video, it is really, very true! i think because my boys are still very young, i haven't had to deal with them being able to read things like that or ask questions about it yet, so it wasn't in the forefront of my mind. thank you for sharing this so that i can now be more aware of the things around me and that i can, in turn, try to make sure my boys that they don't suck in any way, shape, or form!

marzi | 1:37 PM

oops! that's supposed to say: try to make sure my know KNOW that they don't suck in any way, shape or form!

Sara | 6:39 PM

your son is adorable and this momversation was really interesting to watch

Anonymous | 12:48 PM

I feel so lucky to have read this, it's a perspective I wouldn't have gotten elsewhere, and it's so compelling from a mother's point of view.

Foxy | 6:50 AM

I don't understand how on earth highlighting an issue everyone admits exists and is legitimate is somehow diminishing another issue that everyone agrees exists. It's ludicrous to suggest that having a legitimate concern about how boys are portrayed in media/advertising somehow isn't worth because, well, women still aren't there yet. You're right! We're not. And it stinks, and I will personally fight such stereotypes 'til I'm blue in the face. But that certainly doesn't mean other ridiculous and damaging stereotypes don't also deserve a fight. That seems to me to be such a lazy approach to equality - choosing the biggest battle isn't equivalent to choosing every battle that damages the message of gender equality which, I'm sure we can all agree, can only help both women AND men and is the entire point of being a feminist.