A Letter to my Sons about Gender Stereotyping

Dear Balthazar and Lysander,

I’m no expert when it comes to the opposite sex.  In fact, I’m a flaming novice.  Not only am I dating a woman but I have a sister – no brothers – and attended all-girls schools.  Once upon a time I dated a man for a while, but it didn’t work out well.  Most of my experience of men comes from my admittedly wonderful colleagues, who have threatened to kidnap you when you’re older and teach you how to be boys.  (I kind of hope that they do, so long as it doesn’t take too long and they bring you back in one piece!)

I hadn’t anticipated having boys.  I’ve been a little flummoxed by the whole thing.  Before you were born, I wondered what boys would be like.  I didn’t realise that you, Balthazar, would be like Balthazar and you, Lysander, would be like Lysander.  You’re  no more Boys as my hypothetical girls would have been Girls.  You’re you.  Balthazar and Lysander.  You’re people, microhumans.

As you grow up, you will encounter many stereotypes.  You will be encouraged to be brave and strong and those are good things to be, but not at the expense of other emotions.  Boys can be gentle and kind; men can be as nurturing as women.  Boys will be boys must never be an excuse for anything that you do.

Know that you can wear pink or purple or yellow.  You can play with toy kitchens and prams and dolls’ houses.  You can laugh with joy, cry with sorrow.  You can love your children and be outwardly affectionate with them.  You can – and should! – cook and clean as often and as well as your wives, if you grow up to have wives.  You can be anything; we will never allow your sex to limit you.

You can be you, whomever you are.  Be Balthazar and Lysander, undiluted by other people’s expectations of who you should be.

With love,

Your mother x

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