Article on boys and feminism sparks debate

A New York Times article about parenting and raising boys to be feminists has, of course, prompted strong responses from readers and commentators.

Lenny, 5, receives few breaks based upon his gender when it comes to household chores.

"'Can you help in the kitchen?' And then his dad always says: 'That's for women. It's OK,'" Lenny's mom Nikki said.

Nikki, her friend Paola, and the rest of society have watched traditional gender roles blur over the decades.

"I don't want my girls to think that they need to clean all the time or be at home with children," Paola said. "I want them to work and be whatever they want to be."

The New York Times story titled "How to Raise a Feminist Son" explores the evolution of parenting philosophies like Paola's and suggests we're now stunting our nation's males by failing to offer them the same array of options we offer their sisters.

Dr. Jephtha Tausig-Edwards, a child psychologist, said she agrees.

"It is much more common for parents to encourage, let's say, a daughter to become a doctor if she wishes than for parents to encourage a son to become a nurse," Tausig-Edwards said.

The article is divided into sections with titles like 'Let him be himself,' 'Teach him to take care of himself,' 'Teach him to take care of others,' 'Speak up when others are intolerant,' 'Read a lot,'l and 'Celebrate boyhood.' These are not terribly revolutionary ideas and one would think not very divisive. Those recoiling seem to take issue with the article's title as they equate feminist with effeminate.

"Feminist and effeminate are two very different concepts," Tausig-Edwards said. She defines "feminist" as promoting equal rights among genders. She said "effeminate" carries a more negative connotation.

"How about, how to raise a humanist child? Tausig-Edwards said. "A humanistic child."

Tausig-Edwards read this article and saw a grabby headline followed by an argument for raising a human who respects themselves and others.