“Having Daughters is my Punishment..”

By Caitlin Easter

There is a huge discrepancy in our society between the way men and
women are expected to interact with members of the opposite gender. Society
tells us the “correct” way to behave with relational partners, but it is a very
gendered divide in how we understand and view the situations when people
don’t follow these guidelines. Our world is a lot more willing to forgive a man
who mistreats a romantic partner than a woman who should know better than to
treat a romantic partner poorly. It is almost expected of males to behave this way,
and no one blinks when men are accused of these fallacies.

I have often heard from parents in one variation or another “having girls is
my punishment for the way I treated girls when I was younger.” I have, however,
never heard the direct inverse of this statement. Women are expected to know
how to treat men even before they have sons, but society labels it acceptable for
men to have their learning curve so late in life. Given these—clearly—different
approaches to judging the outcome of a situation, why is it so hard for our society
to believe that we are not holding boys to the same standard as girls? Why is it so
hard to believe that we are raising the men in our society wrong, when even they
are haunted by the possibility of their younger selves’ behavior being directed
towards their daughters?

Holding boys to a higher standard for the treatment of others at a young
age will stop the perpetuation of this harmful cycle and help to teach boys to
treat women not just how they want their daughters to be treated in hindsight,
but also how they expect themselves to be treated.