How parents can encourage their sons to be better allies to women

by Oct 26, 2023

Encourage your sons to be better allies to women

Encouraging sons to be better allies to women is an important step in fostering gender equality and promoting respectful, healthy relationships.

 

Andrew Tate, a self-described misogynist, is awaiting trial in Romania for rape and human trafficking. But despite this, he still exerts influence over huge numbers of teenage boys. As of August 2023 his videos have been viewed 11.6 BILLION times. Take that in. 11.6 BILLION.

For many boys he is an icon and his messages resonate with insecure and vulnerable teenagers. His interpretation of masculinity is even the topic of school assemblies which are trying to address the issue.

I am frequently asked by parents for advice on how they can raise their sons to be allies to girls and women to counteract the toxic masculinity which is embedding itself in our cultures like fleas in a blanket. The question was raised again last week, not by a parent this time, but by a teenage boy, son of long-term contact  Irene Janssen at Robert Baker’s,  Founder of Potentia Talent Consulting session on Male Allyship at the smart women’s club The Nine, Brussels.

The question was:

“What advice would you give to parents to raise sons who will be better allies to women?”

This gave me the much needed nudge to pull together many 3Plus resources.

Unhealthy masculinity

I am not going to link Tate to give him any more exposure. Some of his philosophies include statements suggesting that women belong in the home, shouldn’t drive, and are a man’s property.

He also thinks rape victims must “bear responsibility” for their attacks and personally dates women aged 18–19 because he can “make an imprint” on them, according to videos posted online. He talks about “hitting and choking women, trashing their belongings and stopping them from going out.” 

So an all-round nice guy.  But researchers estimate that Twitter (X) profits from his account to the tune of $10 million.

Toxic masculinity is, therefore, a big money spinner, so with such an extensive reach to teenage boys, what advice can we give to parents to encourage sons to be better allies to women?

How to encourage sons to be better allies to women

Encouraging sons to be better allies to women is an important step in fostering gender equality and promoting respectful, healthy relationships for future generations. Here are some strategies that parents can use to help their sons become better allies to women:

Podcast: Let’s Talk About Male Allyship with Robert Baker and Dorothy Dalton – 3 Plus International

1. Be role models

Parents should lead by example and form respectful and equal relationships in their own lives. Treat each other with kindness, respect, and equality, so your children will learn from your behaviour. Tate is said to have taken some of his views from his father who has publicly stated that he was able to hit women “withour leaving a mark” and was also diagnosed with narcissstic personality disorder.

Podcast: Sharing the load and keeping the peace with Ian Dinwiddy 

2. Challenge Stereotypes

Gender stereotyping starts early and are extremely harmful, not only to boys but to families and society in general.  Boys are discouraged from displaying emotions, seeking help or showing any sensitivity for fear that they might be perceived as weak. Vulnerability can be expressed as anger or even violence.

Talk to your sons (and daughters) about the damaging traps created by gender stereotypes. Encourage them to question and challenge these stereotypes when they encounter them in the media, culture, or daily life. More importantly, teach them how to speak up and call out when they see them.

Podcast: The damaging impact of gender stereotypes with Michael Ray 

3. Create a gender-balanced household

Both parents should participate equally in housework, preferably avoiding traditional gender stereotypical splits. Mum and Dad should also split the second shift or the invisible workload.

Encourage the boys to participate equally in household chores and responsibilities.  Make sure they know how to do the basic life essential daily tasks. Also teach daughters how to do chores historically assigned to boys in previous generations. This helps them understand that gender roles should not dictate who does what.

Research from EIGE suggests that even in 2023 gender roles around housework are still the norm in Europe.

Read: Girls and Chores – Does the Gender Gap Start at Home? – 3 Plus International

 4. Open Communication & Emotion labelling

Create a safe and open environment for your sons to ask questions and express their thoughts and feelings. Listen without judgment and encourage them to share their concerns.

Teach your sons to name their emotions (sad, frustrated, lonely, scared) and avoid having a “no talk” household where certain sensitive topics are brushed under the carpet.

sons to be better allies to women

5. Teach Empathy

Help your sons understand the experiences and feelings of girls and women by encouraging empathy. Discuss women’s perspectives and challenges, and ask your sons how they would feel in similar situations.

This is particularly important around issues such as mensuration, menopause, birth control, and other topics that some families avoid.

6. Discuss consent

Teach your sons about the importance of consent in all relationships, both romantic and platonic. Discuss what consent means and why it’s crucial to respect boundaries.

This video from Thames Police is great at conveying an important message with some humour:

7. Teach respect for personal boundaries

Instill the value of respecting personal space and boundaries. Teach your sons that no one should ever feel pressured or uncomfortable in any situation. Give guidance on which parts of the female body are off-limits at any age.

Also make sure that “no” means “no” in any context, even in play. Avoid the “boys will be boys” trap to excuse poor or uncontrolled behaviour. We also have to get rid of the idea that it’s not necessary to behave inappropriately to show a girl they like her – just as it’s not necessary for girls to accept it. This normalises abusive behaviour as a form of affection.

Read: Why we shouldn’t say “he probably likes you”

8. Encourage gender-neutral interests

Avoid limiting your sons’ interests or choices based on gender. Encourage them to explore a wide range of activities and interests without judgment.

It is particularly important around toys, sports, movies, and books which tend to be riddled with gendered messages – even the old-school “fairy tales”.

There is no such thing as “boys’ activities” and “girls’ activities” or around the choice of academic subjects in school.

Read: the damaging impact of male stereotypes

9. Supervise online activities

Be aware as you can be around your sons’ online activities,if possible setting clear limits and employing age-appropriate parental control buttons. This is supposed to be a minefield I have heard.

Discuss the implications of online behaviour, such as cyberbullying or harassment. Encourage responsible online conduct and reporting of harmful behaviour.

Educate your boys on the dangers of toxic masculinity. Currently only 20% of young people support Andrew Tate’s views but the percentage grows with underepresanted groups. That is still 20% too many.

10. Discuss Healthy Relationships

Teach your sons about the qualities of healthy relationships, which include mutual respect, communication, and support. Talk about warning signs of unhealthy, manipulative or abusive relationships as he enters the dating world.

Read: Toxic masculinity and the Gillette Razor Ad.

11. Encourage diverse perspectives

Encourage your sons to engage with diverse media, literature, and experiences that highlight the voices and stories of women and underrepresented groups.

12. Support gender equality initiatives

Engage in or support community and school initiatives that promote gender equality. Involving your sons in these activities can help them see the importance of gender equality in society.

13. Be supportive

Let your sons know that you support their efforts to be better allies to women and that you’re there to help them learn and grow.

Remember that these conversations and actions should be ongoing and tailored to your son’s age and understanding. Encouraging empathy, respect, and equality in their interactions with women is a process that continues throughout their lives.

 

 Make your organisation an equal space for all genders with 3Plus Unconscious Bias Training Workshops.

 

Dorothy Dalton Administrator
Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she supports organizations to achieve business success via gender balance, diversity and inclusion. She is CIPD qualified, and a certified coach and trainer including digital learning.
follow me

Found that interesting?
Learn more about our services for building inclusive workplaces

Found that interesting?
Learn more about our services for building inclusive workplaces

Individual services

Only 50% of women create a career strategy. Make sure you are on the right side of that equation to reach your potential

Corporate services

“Inclusion is not a matter of political correctness. It is the key to growth.” — Jesse Jackson

Upcoming events

Events

📢New program: How to create inclusive job postings

In today's rapidly evolving world, it's essential for organisations to embrace diversity and inclusion. Organisations unconsciously communicate their company cultures and values in everything they do including their job postings. These can either attract or repel talent from a diverse range of backgrounds.

A crucial step in this process is ensuring that your job postings reflect these values. Our training program will equip you with the knowledge and skills to craft job descriptions that attract candidates from all backgrounds, eliminating bias and fostering an inclusive hiring process.

 

create inclusive job postings

Full programme details HERE

 

📢New Programme available with 3Plus International

“If you have a brain you have a bias” and nowhere is this more apparent than in our hiring processes.

The ‘How to Mitigate Bias in the Recruitment Process’ programme is designed to convey the serious nature of bias in the recruitment process with a focus on gender bias and the way it impacts both businesses and organisations, but in a way that is thought-provoking and engaging.

 

 

Full programme details HERE

Dates for the Diary

 

July/August 2024 - Summer School

Are you thinking about abandoning your job search this summer?  Although the job search market doesn’t go completely flat in the summer months it does tend to quieten down. But this doesn’t mean that you have to!

There is no need to put our job search on hold until after the vacation period is over. It’s time to regroup, refresh and reboot your job search

Use this time wisely. Now is the perfect moment to reboot your job search, or get promotion ready but at your own pace so you can make a great start in September.

Our Summer School Special is a perfect combination of eLearning, followed by a personal, one-on-one coaching session designed to help you reinvigorate your job search to achieve your goals.

eLearning ONLY10 Steps to get Promotion Ready Summer School £45

eLearning PLUS 1:1 Coaching10 Steps to get Promotion Ready Summer School £250

eLearning ONLYReboot your Job Search during the Summer £45

eLearning Plus 1:1 CoachingReboot your Job Search during the Summer £250

 

9th October 2024 Corporate Event  ‘How to Build your Circle of Success for Career Advancement”

Download and listen free podcasts

Latest Podcasts

Related articles

Why “Mattering” Matters

Why “Mattering” Matters

Read about why mattering matters. It’s not just about if you are valued but that you feel valued both in the workplace and our relationships.

read more