January 31, 2020

How can I raise a feminist son in a society entrenched in toxic masculinity?

Clare McDowall

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Oil, acrylic and oil pastels2020

During my time as a teacher I became increasingly fascinated with how children constructed their own self concept and identity. Specifically how they perceived gender roles and how this was influenced by wider society in general. I was quite surprised at the general consensus of the appropriate ways for a girl or boy to behave, even in very subtle nuances. In the school setting it was deemed more acceptable, and indeed encouraged for a girl to portray traditionally male attributes. However it was apparent that males who demonstrated ‘feminine’ attributes were often marginalised. I have been attempting to explore hegemonic masculinity in my work and how this undermines different ways of being ‘masculine’. During this time I have also become a mother to both a son and daughter. I have found it more challenging to raise a feminist son, than it has been to raise a feminist daughter. This has led onto work focusing on toxic masculinity and the affect that has on gender identities in youth, in particular young boys. I want my work to evoke questions and discussion about masculinity and what it truly means to be masculine in a modern society.