Another debate I was pleased to participate in on today’s John Oakley Show on AM640, this one on a new study reported in the Toronto Star, Gender stereotypes still persist even among youth. For example,
“The survey found 31 per cent of the boys believe that a woman’s most important role is to take care of her home and cook for the family, while 48 per cent of youth think men should be responsible for earning income and providing for the family.
This was very encouraging to my sparring partner, the Reverand Charles McVety, who saw it as testament to the biological realities of our fixed male and female roles. In fact, in response to new sex ed curricula material that attempts to give members of both genders more options for how they live their lives, McVety has setup the site StopCorruptingChildren.ca
On the other hand, I expressed my belief that it showed definitive progress as a significant majority of people did not buy into the traditional gender stereotypes, while encouraging listeners to realize that there is still much more work to be done.
I thought it was interesting that significantly more people were ready to abandon sexist expectations focused on women then on men. In particular, over 70% felt that while it was acceptable for boys to cry, boys would be more likely to be made fun of for doing so. This is consistent with other studies showing that boys are expected to be tough and take more risks, behaviour that have obviously negative consequences. We must work towards a society that confronts expectations and pressures on members of both genders that can lead to unsafe and harmful behaviour.
We see lots of programs in place for women and of course there is still much work to be done. For my part, I am working with a variety of groups to provide services to boys and men in areas where they are in need, including in schools where boys are much more likely not to graduate,to fathers who are far less likely to receive equal access to their children following divorce, depriving youngsters of an important source of love and widsom, and to men generally in areas of mens health that suffer from a lack of funding and awareness. These too are areas that require some attention if our goal is for fundamental equality of all citizens