Is it easier to raise a boy or a girl?
I found myself wondering about that very question while having a conversation with my neighbor. He spoke affectionately about his daughter’s recent graduation in New York City, as he just returned from the trip. I wondered if he worried about her, and he said he didn’t. She had a good head on her shoulders. We spoke a little bit more, about his children, the daughter that calls often, the son that doesn’t call often enough and so I asked him, “Do you think it’s easier to raise a boy or a girl?”
I think about that question from time to time. I am so lucky to be an uncle to my niece and nephew. And while my job as uncle is limited to being loving and supportive and showering them with gifts the real work falls onto their parents – my brothers and sisters-in-law. Being an uncle is a sweet gig I highly recommend it. All the joy of having a small baby’s company with zero real responsibility and minimal if any worry. Giggles and laughs, no dirty diapers.
Both my brothers (and their wives) have to worry about different things. All things being equal about school, making and having friends, and health my niece and nephew will have to deal with their personal safety in very different ways.
Back to the conversation with my neighbor he answered that it was easier to raise a boy until the age of 14, while a girl is a bit harder to keep happy. After that, he found it easier to raise his daughter, because she seemed capable of doing it herself. It goes to say that women are a bit more mature and once they get to that time and age, things can take care of themselves. But that really wasn’t what I was getting at.
I think no matter what women worry more about their personal safety and men take it for granted. As a parent, I would be worried about my daughter’s safety in a way I don’t think I’d worry about my son. But at the same time I could wonder if my future daughter might get raped or assaulted, I could worry that my son would violate a woman in that heinous way. And as much as you can teach your children the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, proper and improper touches, approaches, and behaviors, you never know what happens. The world is crazy and chaotic and not always in your control. You create a small human that grows to make their own decisions.
Let me take a step back for a minute. These thoughts don’t plague my mind all the time. I’m not a father yet and my niece and nephew are 2 years old and 9 months respectively. But right now (like so often) there is terrifying news about violations of women’s rights and their personal safety.
In Toronto comedian Jen Grant could not continue her paid corporate gig because of a man in the audience was making lewd, suggestive and even not-so-subtle remarks about having his way with her. In Arkansas news has surfaced to the mass public (finally) that Josh Duggar, the eldest son from 19 Kids and Counting fame, molested four of his sisters and one other child all before the age of fourteen. These incidences were all swept under the rug by the father and mother, their community elders and some other officials.
(I don’t want to start going into the full incident of either of these stories you can find plenty online about Jen Grant here, here and here. The Duggars bullsh#t you can find everywhere – so here, here and this great article here.)
What troubles me is that every time I feel we take two steps closer to equality (or common sense on how to treat women or more accurately our fellow humans) it’s like we take one step back. (One let’s-take-a-dump-on-society-step-back just so they get the idea that progress is a smelly endeavor.)
So with that I worry about my family, my nephew and niece and my future children.
So is it easier to raise a boy or a girl?
I can’t say either one is easier or harder. Both have their challenges.
I worry about a daughter getting violated, and raped, and then not being able to find justice if it did happen.
I worry about the son that finds himself in a situation where he would feel pressured to act a way that could violate, and cross a boundary. (That’s not to say male rape doesn’t happen, because it does, and it is under reported.)
It’s amazing how in 2015 there is still this attitude that “boys will be boys” and women being put under the microscope with the “what were they wearing that night?” rhetoric.
Why do we spend so much time telling women to do all sort of things to avoid getting raped, when we should focus more on just telling men (and women) to not rape. Don’t rape. Yes avoiding alleys, and dressing in skimpy clothing are things you can suggest, but why does any of that behavior allow for a raping to occur? Don’t rape. If people want to walk down the street naked or semi-naked that doesn’t allow others to push themselves into/or on to them. Do not rape.
In a recent podcast on This American Life where the topic was The Birds and Bees they discussed lectures held in high schools and universities about what constitutes consent. And it seemed like a difficult concept for the students to grasp. And I’d like to say it is an easy concept but it can be challenging for young, not-fully molded minds to comprehend. It can be hard for older people to get as well, but it really shouldn’t be. It really shouldn’t.
There was a brilliant video called Consent: It’s As Simple As Tea made from a Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess blog post that explains how consent really is not that complicated. Using tea as the example it explains that a) you can say one thing “I want tea” and change your mind “I don’t want tea” and that’s perfectly fine. And b) say one thing (I want tea) and then not be in the right mind to say another (You have fallen asleep) where you no longer safely capable of having tea.
Even if you think that sex, and the drive for sex is WAY different than anyones desire for tea – no matter how delicious the tea is – couldn’t you just conclude that the potential repercussions and possibility of ruining your life, and go to jail would supersede any sort of drive for nonconsensual sex?
To be honest, I’m sure this topic is way more complicated than I can even address, fully accepting the nuances of male/female interactions but some things are better off to play it safe. Take the high road. Communicate. Stop being a spoiled brat or a misogynist pig that doesn’t understand why she doesn’t want or should not have to have sex with you. Grow up.
Consensual sex is the best sex there is. End of story.
But that’s what worries me. And once my wife and I decide to have children I’m sure I will worry about all those things to make my child healthy and live in a safe environment, I can only hope that sooner rather than later we figure this out. Because even though I will do my best to instill all the right values into my child, I know it takes a village to raise a child. I just hope the village is a safe and equal space for boys and girls. (Studies have shown that the more equality and safe a society is for women, the better off both genders are in the long run.)