Just finished reading Clementine Ford’s ‘Boys will be Boys’, it certainly wasn’t an easy read. It’s certainly left me a little emotional and unsettled once I finished. It’s in part because I know what Clementine writes about the lived experience of women in our society scratches the surface of reality, and that anyone could be subjected to what women and girls are subject to is difficult to deal with. Secondly as a father of both a boy and girl the reality of my responsibility and weight of my failings has really hit me.
The book also touches on domestic labour and the mental load of running a house, and while I feel I could fairly say I carry my weight in terms of domestic labour, it would be fair to say I don’t do my fair share in terms of carrying the mental load of running our household.
The book talks a little about stereotypes and how we socialise boys and girls differently. I want my son to know its okay to be sensitive, it is okay to cry, gentleness is appropriate and not weak. Likewise, I want my daughter to chase her dreams – whatever they are. I want her to be free to assert her opinion without being labelled bossy or coping abuse.
I’ve quite often flipped pronouns as I’ve been reading books to the kids, and It is difficult finding good books and TV shows to show the kids in terms of gender representation. The way women are portrayed in film is concerning to me. How women are represented on TV matters.
I’m longing for more stories written by women, featuring well developed female characters that aren’t simply a love interest or tack-on.
I found the section about ‘rape’ the most confronting. I’ve started trying to teach my kids about consent now and will continue to do that as they grow.
I think what I have found confronting about the book is that I’ve been reminded that the standard I walk past is the standard I accept. I need to acknowledge how is the past I’ve stayed silent when I should have called out sexist behaviour. I also know that I haven’t always given my son a great example of how to treat women.
I’m thankful to Clementine Ford for writing the book. The letter she writes to her son to conclude is beautiful and captures many of the things I need to understand and pass on to my son.
Yes, I would recommend that all men, fathers read this book. Like I said it won't be an easy read, but I think it is an important read.