Thursday, July 26, 2012

It Starts With the Children

By Katie Moon

Two Sundays out of the month I volunteer in the toddler classroom at my church. Just this past Sunday we had our big church picnic out at Hillsboro Stadium where we had just about 30 toddlers ranging in age from 9 months to almost 2 years old. There were 7 volunteers in the classroom including myself, so we were quite outnumbered. I always had one crying baby in my arms that I would be trying to console in some way, but if I saw a little girl fall down and start crying I would immediately put the baby that was in my arms down to pick up and rescue the fallen child. I started noticing however, that my reactions were different if it was a little boy. My first instinct was to tell the little 1 year old boy, "Hey, it's ok you're fine, you're tough." I would play this reassuring game with him, and felt less need to go to him to coddle him. If a little girl fell down, I was immediately to the rescue, rocking her, and kissing her "boo-boo's." The funny thing is, I noticed that I was doing that, because I had just read about gender socialization in my Capstone Class: Sexual Assault on the College Campus. These instincts are born from gender socialization and the kind of environment we were raised in and the kind of media we consume which often supports the notions of men being tough, and men are independent and don't need to be coddled. Further it leads to the notion that violence is accepted, because these men are tough. It is a cyclical pattern that can quickly lead to unhealthy ideas of what a man is supposed to look like and act like and it starts at a young age... thanks to yours truly telling these 1 year old boys that they are tough, and they will be okay.

Attached below is a video of Jackson Katz touching on this topic of gender socialization specifically. Take a look at the video if you haven't already, it provides great insight into how we can better examine ourselves, and our culture, and help put an end to the violent nature of the men in our society. Leave your thoughts on the video and on the topic of gender socialization, I would love to hear what you think!

***Please note that I realize most men are good men, and I am referring to the men who are perpetrators of violence***

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