Parenting isn’t easy. But raising a boy in 2019 presents a particular type of challenge.

Facilitated by social media, parents and children are constantly unpacking patriarchy, feminism and what it means to be a man.

David McGlynn writes about just part of the anxiety he experiences parenting boys:

The thought of either of my two sons harassing or assaulting another person, or being victims themselves, is enough to keep me up at night. Any parent is likely to share my worry.

Nor are sexual bullying and harassment confined to girls. Teenage boys are under tremendous pressure to “act like a guy,” which often means fitting into narrow (and often toxic) conventions of manhood. Dr. Brown said, “It’s common for boys to be called homophobic slurs in middle and high school, especially if they deviate from the very narrow stereotype of what it means to be a typical adolescent boy.” Some boys, in fact, might sexually harass girls simply to keep themselves from being harassed.

Masculinity can often be aggressive. And as Faith Salie writes for Time, angry men are all around us.

A man uses his car to assassinate an anti-Nazi protestor. A man shoots a congressman at his baseball practice. A man commits mass murder at a Vegas concert. A man massacres worshippers in their church. A police officer slaughters his own family. The headlines blur, but they invariably seem to feature men whom the media informs us felt lonely or powerless. And a significant number of American men who actually possess power — but are not murderously angry — are pridefully aggressive. The President tweets furiously, with violently bad syntax, spastic punctuation and apoplectic capitalization, venially attacking not only swaths of people but individual citizens of the country he has vowed to protect and defend.

Of course, men aren’t inherently bad. But patriarchy is widespread.

How can we combat toxic masculinity and make the world a safer, kinder place for people of all genders? And what role do parents and community members play in the development of boys who will fulfill that goal?

Produced by Haili Blassingame.

Guests

  • Rachel Giese Author, "Boys: What It Means to Become a Man"; @RachelaGiese
  • Rami Chiaviello 11th grade student at School Without Walls High School
  • Candace Pinn Kindergarten teacher, Barnard Early Childhood Center New Rochelle
  • Gary Barker CEO, Promundo

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