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Guys and Dolls: Dealing With Sexism

Modern sexism is more dangerous and insidious than it has ever been in the past. Teens today are bombarded with images and music that perpetuates and often discourages respect between young men and women.  On the one hand, much of modern music promotes the idea that women are just play things that are put on earth to gratify men's needs.  Some songs go as far as to put forth the idea that women enjoy being abused by men, so it's OK.

On the other hand, modern situation comedies have a tendency to portray young men as stupid and incompetent.  Girls are often seen as the smart ones who have to bail out their dumb male friends.  This continues on into portrayals of marriages in which the wife is wise and strong and the husband is a doofus.  This sends a dangerous message to women that they can expect very little out of men, therefore there is no reason to look for a competent life partner.  Instead, they should be prepared to settle for a little boy in a man's body.

As mothers, we must step in and not let our teens fall into these stereotypical traps.  Take a stand against music that denigrates you as a woman.  Challenge your teens to actually listen to the lyrics and then respond to them.  Ask questions like, "Why do you think that rapper thinks that about women?" or "Do you really think anyone would enjoy being treated that way.

When watching TV as a family, be alert for the "men are stupid" stereotypes and point them out.  Don't let your son wimp out and let the girls solve the problems.  Let him know that you expect him to contribute to the solution, too. Teach him about what the world has to offer him. Remind your teens that everyone in a group has something to contribute and that they will get much further in life if they will draw ideas from everyone equally, no matter what their gender.

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