Dear Teenage Boys

The teenage years. So angsty and terrible that no one can stop talking about it. Between puberty and high school, teens have a lot to deal with. Adding gender stereotypes into the mix can add a ton more stress on top of it all. After the rampant sexual assault causes that have recently been coming to light with the likes of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Ben Affleck, Brett Ratner, Terry Richardson, Bill O’Reilly and many, many more, we decided that the early signs of sexism was something important to talk about. So, one day in October I stood in front of the Intro to Journalism class and discussed things teenage girls wished they could say to teenage boys. We came up with quite the list, covering a variety of topics. These seemed the most important.

Dear Teenage Boys,

You can compliment your fellow guys!

Making a comment about how great your pal’s shirt looks is not gay. No one actually cares about that. Let your admiration be known, just like you would for any girl.

It’s okay to say no!

As a society we tend to have this thought that boys always want sex, and this definitely is not true. Don’t be afraid to say no to things you don’t want to do, whether they be emotional or sexual.

Don’t cat call!

Girls don’t take this as a compliment; it’s creepy. How would you feel if walking around the streets people made remarks about every part of you in a gross sexual way. There is a 0% chance it will ever work. Leave her alone.

Women owe you nothing.

Even if you buy her something, even when you have her over, even when you give her rides. Don’t expect anything. What does it say about you if everything nice you do is paired with the expectation of a sexual return in mind.

Just because a girl is mad doesn’t mean she’s on her period.

It doesn’t matter if she is; what she’s feeling is valid. Women are allowed to feel emotions without being dismissed.

Saying the C word makes a lot of people, especially women, uncomfortable.

I love the word probably 10x more than you do, but remember that in itself it’s a very aggressive word. You might not mean it in a bad way, but know your audience and always be polite.

Stop commenting on a woman’s underwear.

We get it, she’s wearing a bra. No need to point out that bra strap buddy.

Don’t be ashamed of your sex life.

It’s fine to be a virgin, or not to be a virgin, or to have a lot of sex, or not a lot of sex. Just like for girls, it doesn’t matter.

If you see a woman being interrupted point it out.

Though this might not happen to you, it happens to a lot of women. Just say ‘Excuse me, she was speaking,’ or, ‘She has something to say.’ Don’t be passive.

On that topic, don’t appropriate a woman’s work.

Similar to letting a woman talk, woman’s ideas are often ignored by men, stolen, and then retold as their own. Start giving credit where it’s due.

You have the power to stop sexual assault.

If you see something fishy going on, stop it. If not, you are an enabler, plain and simple. Call it out and end it.

Girls don’t want to hear your opinion on their looks.

Shocking as it is, she doesn’t care that you think her foundation is a little much or that blue eyeshadow isn’t cute. Girls don’t wake up with your picture on their wall and keep you in mind while they get ready. We aren’t painting our eyes red and adding a little hammer and sickle to our cheeks to please you. We’re doing it to worship Karl Marx and the wonder that is Communism.

By the way, makeup is cool.

If you want to cover up a spot, just put concealer on it. It’s not even noticeable unless you’re really up close. If you want to wear makeup, just do it. You don’t have to, but don’t be afraid to.

Beauty products in general are gender neutral.

Put whatever you want in your hair; wear face masks to calm down. You can still take care of yourself if you’re a guy.

Stop fetishizing women of color.

It’s creepy when you call a brown girl ‘chocolate’ or comment about how you find women of color ‘exotic’. They’re human beings not food.

Opinionated women aren’t crazy.

Just because she thinks Hillary should’ve won doesn’t mean she’s going to knife you.

Don’t be afraid to say you’re wrong or to change your opinion.

Being wrong is not a terrible thing. It means you’ve listened to reason and reconsidered. There is no shame in admitting it. Change your opinions if you feel the other one fits better.

It’s okay to reach out for emotional support!

Though being able to handle emotions is an important skill, sometimes they can get to be too much. Just keep in mind that you have a support system. You can be tough while keeping yourself mentally healthy.

Don’t insult girls you don’t know.

This should be obvious, but if I had a dollar for every time a boy called a girl he didn’t know a whore I’d have enough money to run for congress. Good rule of thumb: just be kind and respectful to everyone.

Know your audience.

Make all the offensive jokes you could ever possibly want around your friends; lord knows I sure do. But know when to make them. Making them in your pal’s basement while you play Minecraft and complain about how women don’t like you is great. Making them in class while kids can’t exit the situation is douchey.

Give your partner time to say no.

It’s your responsibility to read their emotions well and know when to stop. Checking in with consent is important and mandatory. They’re always free to change that yes to a no at any point in the game. The same goes for you.

Taking picture of girls without their knowing is creepy.

Don’t take pictures up her skirt. Don’t take pictures of her while she sleeps. Don’t take pictures of her naked. And don’t share the pictures she sends to you. Unless it’s a picture of her on Snapchat with the caption ‘spotted’ and sent to a group chat, knock it off.

Stop using the phrase ‘Finger Blasting’.

This is more of a personal preference than anything, but don’t ya know?

‘Like a girl’ isn’t an insult.

Girls being weak and not being able to do things as well as boys? I’m sorry I’ve never met that. Never heard of that. Never seen that. Never felt that.

Don’t patronize women when they’re angry.

It’s not ‘cute’. It’s not ‘funny’. Her feelings are real, alright, and they should be taken seriously.

You don’t have to jump to the defensive right away.

If someone calls you out, listen. It doesn’t mean you have to change your opinions. And if you really don’t want to, you don’t have to even stop what you’re doing. But if you slow down to listen, you might find a point. Or not. I don’t know, your life.

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