By: Abdulmojeed Kawthar
Image Credit: Boys Without Borders
In the 21st century, the fate of the boy child has undergone significant changes and challenges. While progress is being made in terms of gender equality and addressing gender stereotypes, there are still areas where boys face unique struggles.
A boy might grow up in a bustling urban neighborhood, come from a loving and supportive family that believes in gender equality, and be encouraged by his parents to pursue his interests, regardless of societal expectations. However, even in this progressive environment, a boy still encounters several hurdles.
In school, there’s a disparity in the treatment of boys and girls. While girls are applauded for excelling in academic subjects and extracurricular activities traditionally associated with boys, such as science or math, boys often face subtle pressure to conform to societal expectations of masculinity. A talented boy artist feels discouraged when his artwork does not receive the same attention as the girl’s work.
Despite a boy’s talent and passion for art, he notices that many of his male peers receive less recognition and encouragement for their artistic abilities compared to the girls. This discrepancy often leads boys to suppress their artistic interests, fearing that it might be seen as “unmanly” or not aligned with societal expectations.
Also, boys face pressure to adhere to traditional gender roles, which can limit their choices and opportunities. He observes that girls are increasingly encouraged to explore diverse career paths, including STEM fields, while boys are still expected to pursue careers in fields like engineering or computer science. This pressure can leave boys feeling trapped or unfulfilled if their interests lie elsewhere.
Furthermore, boys are often stigmatized for expressing emotions or seeking help with their mental health. Society tends to associate vulnerability and seeking support with weakness, leading boys to suppress their feelings or struggle silently. This can have detrimental effects on their emotional well-being and hinder their ability to form healthy relationships.
As the boy grows older, the impact of these challenges becomes more evident. Some boys succumb to societal pressure, conforming to narrow definitions of masculinity, which may manifest in aggressive behavior or a lack of emotional intelligence. Others struggle with mental health issues, unable to find the support they need due to the stigma surrounding male vulnerability.
To this end, it is important to support and encourage the boy child in breaking these barriers. Encourage him to express his emotions, explore his interests, and challenge societal norms.
Also, society needs to encourage positive male role models by highlighting and celebrating positive male role models who challenge stereotypes and promote gender equality. Boys need access to diverse role models who showcase the possibilities and successes beyond traditional gender roles. This can be achieved through media representation, community mentorship programs, and educational initiatives.
In conclusion, the fate of the boy child in the 21st century rests on society’s ability to recognize and address the unique struggles they face. By fostering an environment that promotes gender equality, encourages emotional expression, and embraces diverse interests and career paths, we can create a future where boys can thrive and fulfill their potential.
By implementing these measures, society can create an environment that empowers boys to embrace their individuality, pursue their passions, and contribute positively to their communities. It is only through collective effort and a commitment to gender equality that we can shape a future where boys thrive and fulfill their potential in the 21st century.