For my son on International Women’s Day


From Status of Women Canada

As a mother, I have just as much responsibility to teach my son about women’s rights (well, human rights) as I would if I had a daughter. As I thought about this today, I compiled a list of things I want him to understand as he grows up.

  1. Despite ubiquitous and overwhelming messages to the contrary, women’s bodies do not exist to be admired, criticized, evaluated, complimented, and/or picked apart. If you have opinions about a woman’s body, keep them to yourself.
  2. Women and men have differences, but we have more similarities. Be skeptical of information that polarizes the sexes. We’re all human.
  3. Women do not exist to be adjuncts to your life and your dreams. While your wife (if you have one) should support you and spur you on, her goals are just as important as yours.
  4. 99% of the female bodies you see on TV represent less then 5% of the body types real-world women have. Adjust expectations accordingly. Also, refer to Point 1.
  5. Don’t act like a jerk to get girls. Don’t act like a nice guy to get girls. “Getting girls” is not a hobby—it’s predatory. If want a relationship, be open and be yourself.
  6. Women are not cunts, bitches, hoes, or sluts. Don’t ever let me catch you using these words.
  7. Despite your best intentions, complimenting a female stranger on her looks is creepy. It’s not flattering; it’s off-putting. Also, refer to Point 1.
  8. There’s no such thing as a typical girl. Some women are emotional, some aren’t. Some women like to talk; some don’t. Some women enjoy preening; others don’t. Some women want children; some don’t. Like men, women are not a homogenous group. Enjoy the diversity!
  9. Beware of women who speak poorly of other women. It’s a sign of poor character and a weak sense of self.
  10. No one likes housework, and you’re no more entitled to be a slob than anyone else is. Expect no one to pick up after you.
  11. Uncomfortable though it may be to receive sex advice from your mother, this is important: Approach sex with a “yes means yes” mentality; you will have better sex. There is a difference between having sex with someone who will merely ‘let’ you, and someone who genuinely wants to have sex with you. If you have to convince/pressure/manipulate someone to sleep with you, you’re in the wrong.
  12. While we’re on the topic of sex, let’s discuss porn. I’d like for you never to watch it, because I think it screws up men’s ideas about women and sex. That said, should you happen to watch porn, please know that actors are paid to look as though they’re enjoying themselves. Adjust expectations accordingly. And for heaven’s sake, do not view it as a model of regular and healthy sexual activity. (See:
  13. Sex trafficking is a legitimate issue in this country. Research it.
  14. You are not entitled to have sex just because you want it. Put another way: The only sex you are entitled to is that which you have with yourself.
  15. Know your privilege. You don’t have to feel guilty about it, just be aware of it and advocate for those on the margins.

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