Recently, Michelle Obama got real about the differences between the way boys and girls are brought up, and how those differences have a direct correlation to the way men and women make their way through the world. She said, "It's like the problem in the world today is we love our boys, and we raise our girls. We raise them to be strong, and sometimes we take care not to hurt men - and I think we pay for that a little bit." She continued, "'Are we protecting our men too much so they feel a little entitled and self-righteous sometimes? But, that's kind of on us too as women and mothers, we nurture men and push girls to be perfect." While as usual her words sparked controversy, noticeably, the Latina community took to Twitter to applaud the former First Lady.
My personal favorite:
@ Mexican moms who wipe their sons ass until he's 27 but expect their daughters to be trapeando y lavando trastes by age 9. https://t.co/vZMlw3ot4Q
— Beatriz 🐝 (@_BeatrizFlores) November 8, 2017
Though some men(are you missing something here? Though some men agreed with Mrs. Obama, others took to Twitter with personal attacks on her. Perhaps their defensiveness (cough: self-righteousness) confirms that Michelle's statement is rooted in truth. Both sides of my Cuban-Italian heritage are very patriarchal, but how has that impacted the way I was raised? Having a big family with lots of cousins, there were plenty of hands to offer help at family gatherings and holiday dinners, but who got stuck on table clearing and dish duty time and time again? The girls. From a young age, my mother taught me that it's the woman's responsibility to clear the table, clean the dishes, and serve the next course. "You have to learn for when you have a husband to look after," my family members would coo. My brother, of course, got off scot-free and was allowed to play in the other room. Gender roles were enforced in my house. I was taught that a woman's place to keep is the inside of the house, while a man's place to keep is the outside of the house. While this way of thinking is rooted in teamwork and supporting your partner, comparing the grass cutting and occasional weeding to the sweeping, vacuuming, cleaning of surfaces, laundry, bathrooms, etc etc, never seemed to balance out.
We also protect men's self-worth, but confuse women's view of themselves. I have memories of my brother's ego being nurtured, while I learned to grow thicker skin. As a child, I was told to let my brother win at board games to help build his confidence. This frustrated me. What about my confidence? My parents would tell me that they let me win at his age, but I was still only eight years old and that logic just didn't make sense to me. Meanwhile, as I continued to grow up, what I wore outside of the house, who I dated, and how I kept my appearance was under constant observation, and judgement. . I was always taught to prepare for the worst. Don't wear that short skirt because a boy might get the wrong idea. Don't get your bellybutton pierced because it sends the wrong message. This created confusion in my self-identity. Was I a certain kind of girl because I wanted to wear short shirts and have my bellybutton pierced? Bottom line, girls are raised to build thick skin and take preventative measures to protect themselves in ways that boys are not..
n her speech, Michelle Obama emphasizes that women run the world because we raise men. She questions what the convention of strong men really means? She wonders if raising a strong man means raising a respectful, responsible, and compassionate man or if it means over-protecting our men to the point of self-righteousness. If all parents raised their sons to be responsible, respectful, and compassionate how would the tables be turned? Would women still be taught to walk on eggshells to not provoke men? I don't think so.
Men and women are fascinatingly different. It's been something society has been fixated on for decades. There's the scene in every rom-com where a girl and her girlfriends lament about how differently our way of thinking is from theirs; however, at the same time, talking about men and women's differences has been taboo. We tip-toe around breasts and their purpose in reproduction, but use them to sell products. If we taught our men to appreciate the unique qualities in women, and view their differences as assets , perhaps we'd learn to value their contributions to the world. Then we'd really be getting somewhere.
Not addressing the societal inequities will not only have a deleterious effect on women. Hypermasculinity is the root of a lot the problems for men as well. While it's true that men are raised to be a little self-righteous, it's also true that they are raised with the constant pressure to be manly enough, to withhold emotion, and to be this pseudo-version of "strong". In her speech, Michelle Obama also touches on this. She encourages men to form support groups and to talk it out. She says, "Y'all need to go talk to each other about your stuff." She jokes that sometimes she asks Barrack, "Who do you talk to?" She identifies the big difference in women having a support group to talk through issues. "Your girlfriends set you straight," she says. She encourages men to try that too.
Michelle Obama tells men "Y'all need to go talk to each about your stuff. Because there's so much of it. It's so messy." (via ABC) pic.twitter.com/5LWJ7PbXNM
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 1, 2017
In closing, she stresses that "we have to raise our children to be people." She ponders if there's any difference in raising girls and boys so much as simply raising our children to know how to deal with the obstacles they encounter. Overall, she encourages parents to raise their children to be the adults they want them to be. She warns of letting their own fears of what their children my face cloud their direction and lead to over-protecting their children. Ultimately, it sounds like she just wants to even the playing field for us, and frankly, I'm with her on that.