Gina Vaynshteyn
November 23, 2014 2:40 pm

In 2012, Jeff Perera, the community engagement manager of White Ribbon, an organization that educates boys on gender equality and the treatment of women, shared a list a group of 9-year-old boys wrote detailing what they don’t like about being boys.

What these boys came up with is heartbreaking. This list resurfaced again this last Wednesday for #InternationalMensDay, reminding everyone about the societal pressures young boys have to be “masculine,” and how problematic and damaging that can be.

Perena states, “Boys are pressured to assert their masculinity and prove their manhood in everyday activities everyday all day. This leaves us with a world of boys and men pretending: trying to achieve the unattainable state of manhood.”

Much like how young girls and women strive to be “beautiful,” “perfect,” and “desirable,” young boys are taught to be strong, told never to cry or express emotions, and instructed never to show any weaknesses. These kinds of social constructs bind boys and girls to their gender roles: society teaches boys what it means to be masculine, and girls what it means to be feminine, and this is very harmful.

The effects of this frame of thought is clearly illustrated with this list that illuminates how boys feel when they’re taught to “be more manly,” or that they’re supposed to be rough and innately violent:

I want to hug these boys and tell them, “OH MY GOSH, you don’t have to do all the work! You can be a cheerleader! You don’t have to play football!” It’s sad how deeply and terribly engrained all these ideas are, and I do hope that one day we can break free of these gender binaries and restrictions once and for all.

Images viavia

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