The Achilles Effect

I read the most amazing book last night. I am a unashamed loud and proud feminist. I thought I knew all there was to know about gendered marketing and sexism. I thought that I was safe from all that with my two boys.

Boy was I wrong. I’d, of course, always been personally affected by all sorts of everyday sexism, but as a mother of two boys, I thought my job ended when I raised them to be feminists themselves.

The Achilles Effect changed that thinking.

The rampant and constant sexism and gendered marketing is not only a “women’s issue”. By restricting the girls and women in our society, we are also damaging the boys.

There are many much more articulate examples and explanations in the book (and if you are a parent of boys, you really must have it) but let me just give you a teaser.

Popular culture (movies and television programs aimed at children) constantly reinforces the idea that in order for a boy to become a “real man”, they must be taken from their mothers. Mothers are portrayed as the caring, nurturing pieces of society that a male child must eschew in order to become a “real man”. While the obvious correlation here is that women, in their most powerful role is now cast in a negative light, we’ve also, in one foul stroke, taught boys that being caring and nurturing is somehow bad, that one must separate themselves from all things feminine, as if being more feminine is now a disease.

The chicken and egg problem is that it is a disease to be female. There is a widening pay gap in most if not all countries. In some countries, women are killed even before they are born. Sexism and sexist attacks are so common, we raise our girls to expect it, not to mention sexual based violence and rape. Of course the solution is to raise boys that reject The Achilles Effect, who believe that strength does not have to come at the expense of the women in his life. However, my question to you, dear reader, is this. Who still buys into the gendered marketing? Why is Barbie one of the best selling toys on the planet? Why do we constantly subject our poor boys to superheroes with impossibly small waists and impossibly large biceps (the male equivalent to Barbie’s ridiculous proportions)

I refuse to believe that the General Population of parents are ignorant, or that they don’t care.

Or am I living in a fantasy world?

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