A class I recently taught was studying an English unit on Advertising, which looked at advertising of products for children.
I enjoy teaching advertising units because I find the children love learning about how words, images, colour and sounds can be used to influence their choices in food, toys and clothing. They find it empowering so I find it worthwhile. The study of advertising often highlights gender differences in the imagery presented to our children and so indicates how we differ in the way we raise our boys and our girls.
We had a great time discovering the influence of static ads and we had just moved onto online, multimedia ads, where the addition of sound effects and music lend considerable extra weight to the impact of advertisements.
Our first ad was a multi-media presentation by a well-known building block manufacturer, targetting mainly boys. The ad started out with very loud booming sounds and then proceeded with ‘the man with the very deep voice’ exhorting viewers to engage in a hero-like fashion in the narrative constructed around the product.
The change that came over the beautifully tender, sensitive little boys at this point was extreme. All, bar two of them, just about jumped out of their seats; they were agitated and their eyes became surreally bright. They began to converse animatedly with each other while the girls and I looked on, baffled by what was happening.
Seeing these beautifully tender little boys so agitated and so thoroughly changed in their demeanor, I could not continue with the lesson.
I decided to take a moment so that we could look at what had happened.
The boys re-seated themselves and I asked them what had happened for them during the ad. They were confused and so the girls shared what they had seen happening for the boys, noting that only one girl in the class had been similarly affected.
The boys then explained that they had become so animated because they have to fight evil and that evil is the enemy, the bad people and the dark forces. They agreed with each other that this is a ‘man’s job’, hence why the girls remained unaffected. Moreover, ‘everyone knows’ that this is the way it is, they explained.
I was incredulous at the depth of their feeling. I have been aware for many years that girls and boys are socialized in different ways and consequently, display different behaviours. I had no idea that one online ad for a toy could trigger such agitated behaviour and such incredibly, deeply held convictions as the ones I witnessed during that lesson.
Would it not be wise for us, as a society, to consider what is happening here?
Are we raising our boys to lose their innate sensitivity and tenderness at an early age?
Are we encouraging them to assume ‘manly traits’ like ‘fighting the enemy’ and ‘fighting evil’ and to respond on automatic pilot to situations that require the development and expression of these traits?
Would it be wiser to allow our boys to unfold their innate sensitivity at a completely natural pace?
Observing how these primary age children became so agitated when their beliefs were triggered, confirmed to me the logic, compassion and wisdom of looking more deeply at what is going on.
Like many schools, we are periodically visited by Legacy volunteers, who are often former serving personnel from the Armed Forces. Again, I have often been struck by the loveliness and genuine intention of these men to serve and protect their country. I have noticed how, even in retirement, they continue to serve as volunteers for Legacy, to provide financial and emotional support for the families of fallen comrades. As I observe these usually gentle men addressing our students, I often contemplate the beliefs they might have been raised under as boys. Did they feel they had to ‘fight the enemy’ at an early age because that’s what men do? Did anyone value their tenderness and encourage them to honour their sensitivity? What life path would they have chosen had this been so?
How much do we restrict the choices of our boys, and our men, by these recurring themes and patterns of fighting the enemy and evil?
How can we allow these beliefs about what it is to be a man to shut down their sensitive awareness at such a young age? How many men and boys perceive themselves to be warriors against evil, defenders of home and hearth?
Don’t we need to take a moment and consider how we are raising our boys and are we imposing on them and our men?
Men – Are We Set Up to Fail?
Good Parenting Skills
“because that’s what men do” This is an imposition and does not allow men and boys to honour their natural sensitivity.
This is a brilliant topic of conversation because from what you and other children observed was the change in the bodies of some of the boys when music and commentary of the marketing advert was introduced into the lesson. This shows to me quite clearly that we are affected by sound as well as visual effects. It would be fascinating if there was a machine that could read someone’s past lives, because is it possible that the boys that were affected more had past lives in the military and this was being activated by watching the advert?
Attempted suicide rates are equally as high for women, it’s not just men wanting to end their lives from the way life is and how they are imposed upon to live all they are not. Women choose methods of suicide that are not as lethal as men so they have higher rates of not completing suicide, but they are trying to and in very high numbers. Both genders are suffering.
Girls lose their sensitivity too, but the societal moulding is different as we are herded towards being aware of and sensitive to others needs and doing everything for everyone, which diminishes any real sensitivity to ourselves and our own needs and nurturing, often resulting in low self worth and self neglect. Either way there is an imposition, both genders are moved away from their innate and natural inner essence (being) to the point that neither may have any awareness of their true inner self, and instead are fitting into a role, all to the enormous detriment of all of humanity.
When we develop a relationship with our essences, which is our Soul-full-ness, the “fight evil” process against the unseen forces is felt at every level of life as we know it and it is only when we keep our sensitivities that we can feel these evils for who they truly are.
This is powerful, we’re not only influencing our boys through colours and career indications, but through changing their psyche and enforcing the fact that it is their role to fight evil. Completely bastardising the meaning of that and through evil making them change who they are.
We have been taught that like a tattoo men are suppose to wear their protective role as super heroes, like we guardians of the universe and will fight at any cost and as has been shared this is physically abusive to our bodies, as much can be Truly done when we stay connected to our Soul-full-essences.
The power and strength in a man is in their tenderness and sensitivity and not in a hardened and tough body. Could it be that a man chooses to deny these qualities because of this power?
What a great learning for all present in your classroom that day and how truly shocking how quickly we can all be pulled away from our naturally tender selves through imposed ideals and beliefs about our roles in society which call for us to completely override our innate sensitivity.
What a great topic to study with your pupils, invaluable for them to see and feel how they can be influenced in the world, ‘I find the children love learning about how words, images, colour and sounds can be used to influence their choices in food, toys and clothing. ‘
We do need to take a moment and consider it because the outplay at the moment is so much pressure on boys and men to be a certain way that leaves no room for saying no and choosing to express in a ‘different’ way. This is going to take societal change.
The wisest way of fighting the enemy and evil is with love.
I love this Mary, it brings a big smile to my face, and is so true.
When we understand we all innately have a gorgeous essence but we disconnect from it and allow behaviours that are not true to our expression, we begin to realise there are no enemies just very hurt and at times deluded people living in separation to their innate love.
Interesting how we can impose the role of protector on young men and yet if they retain their own tenderness and self care they naturally are protecting and caring of others.
The whole thing about toughening up to be a real man goes so against the grain of our innate sensitivities. Is it no wonder then that men find it hard to talk about their feelings as we encourage non expression and validation of what is felt.
The imposing continues to impose until we stop and look at why are we imposing in the first place and what are we trying to squash or not feel by doing it.
What is so beautifully highlighted here is the difference between expressing innately versus learning a role in life that we need to be in order to be loved. If we are raised and supported to know that we are innately love there is no need to take roles on in order to get love through recognition.
Yes as a society we most certainly impose on boys, as to do we impose on young girls that also should be a certain way.
To date we have not learnt that life is about true expression not a contrived version that ends up leaving us all lesser.
The imposing manner we bring to both sexes starts at birth – what they need to be rather than allowing their true expression to be honoured.
There is nothing remotely logical about the way we raise men to be hard and tough and override their feelings. We all lose out by this but yet we still allow it to proliferate. There must be more to this than we realise, an unconscious choice we get something out of. Perhaps it is an excuse to make ourselves and our society less than the truth it ought to be? A perfect set up for an forever cunning, sly, cowardly immortal spirit that does not want to take an iota of responsibility for how it is wrecking human life.