Let’s Stop Shaming Girls and Start Teaching Boys to Respect Them

When I read the headlines, I often wonder when we are going to stop shaming girls and teaching boys to respect them.

First Monica Lewinsky, then Kristen Stewart, now Amanda Todd. It’s the age-old double standard and it’s only gotten worse now that we’re online. When guys experiment with sex, they’re heroes; when girls do, they’re sluts.

Here’s a question. While everyone was busy shaming these girls for their mistakes, where were the guys who thought it was perfectly OK to inappropriately engage them? And closer to home, what are we teaching our boys about how to treat women?

Sometimes, I feel afraid for my sons. Boys are growing up in a culture where girls’ actions are under scrutiny, not theirs, and parents are buying into that double standard. I, for one, am guilty of sending my teenage son out for the night with a simple “be careful” while I lecture my girl half to death about the dangers of the big, bad male world.

Girls get this message loud and clear: Make a mistake (send a sext, dress provocatively, give in to peer pressure from the guy you like – all mistakes that teens make every day), and you’ll likely end up with a reputation you can’t shake, or worse.

But where are the boys in all this?

Of course, we parents need to protect our girls, but we also have to start teaching our boys how to do the same – both online and off. No matter what they see in the media, “boys will be boys” is no excuse. It is never OK to disrespect girls, and it is their job, as gentlemen, to see that doesn’t happen.

It’s tough bringing up the opposite sex with kids, and especially with boys. But when they hit puberty, we have to teach them how to behave with girls – not just for the girls’ sake but for their own, too. As a mom, I couldn’t find this subject more awkward and I challenge you to find a Dad who can’t help but do a little backslapping along the way. But the discussion is so necessary, and it can’t be confined to a simple warning about VD and unplanned pregnancy.

It’s our job to spell out the basics, as in Son, you respect girls when you:

Remember she is a person, with feelings.

Look into her eyes and talk to her directly, not just by text.

Ask her how she feels, and listen.

Respect her limits when she says no.

Don’t pressure her to do things she is hesitant about or not ready for.

Don’t try to be the big guy in the eyes of your friends at her expense.

Don’t spread gossip or rumors about her. Protect her reputation.

Remember that people change as they grow and they don’t forget how you treated them.

Never forget that your reputation as a gentleman is part of your character. You build it as you grow. Make yourself proud.





About randi

Randi Chapnik Myers & Mara Shapiro don't get fazed by their teens. At least they try not to.


  1. I totally agree. I remember watching an Oprah about girls and protecting girls and giving them self esteem. I remember thinking there should be a show on teaching boys to treat women with respect and to be gentlemen. So important.

  2. I so, so agree with this! Well said, and I hope that all of us parents remember that it is just as important to teach our sons to respect another’s daughter as it is to teach our daughters to respect themselves.

  3. Agreed on all counts. I’d like my son to feel proud of who he is and to expect to be treated with respect as well, and not fall victim to the ‘everyone else acts this way’. Our boys won’t feel good about themselves if they’ve done something they felt pressured to do either.

  4. Yes, boys are under a lot of pressure – not just from their peers but from the media as well. They deserve care and respect, too.

  5. I was in total agreement until I got to this line, “…and I challenge you to find a Dad who can’t help but do a little backslapping along the way.”

    There are many fathers who work very hard to instill strong values in their boys. We also challenge the pervasive media influence, breakdown gender stereotypes, and reassure their sense of boy’ish self-worth in a world that pushes “girl-power” in their face, daily. While I don’t deny that there are still many men clinging to the double standard, the flippant, dismissive comment does real harm. It allows the men who perpetuate that ‘pat-on-the-back’ behaviour to think that it is not only acceptable, it’s completely normal and expected; there is no pressure to change. It reinforces to woman that all men are incapable of dealing with this issue. Many men share your concerns about the pop-culture world we live in. Many men are troubled by the culture of disrespect. Don’t dismiss them.

    • Fantastic point. What I meant to get across is that in my experience, many fathers are proud of their sons for sexual escapades because it’s a normal part of growing up. A little backslapping and boys-will-be-boys mentality is seen as fatherly and confidence building – but may not go far enough without the conversation about respect. Thanks so much for drawing this distinction to my attention.

      • Thanks. As dads and moms, we have to move past language that describes “sexual escapades” as being the equivalent of being “disrespectful”. We can support healthy, respectful, mutual relationships as part of growing up for both boys and girls. We don’t want to ignore the natural excitement/enthusiasm and discovery of puberty, or we create confused, awkward adults with fewer boundaries and far less understanding of true respect. Then again, I have yet to experience raising a hormonal teenager. Any wisdom is purely theoretical.

  6. You can teach your boys what you want. True respect cannot be taught, It is earned. Girls are not doing a good job of it, you can teach your son whatever you want, soon enough he will grow up to see women for who they are, he will see how women treat him, he will see the feminist double standards, he will see how men is blamed for everything in the media. He will see how family courts discriminate against men, how he will stand last inline to get a job, soon he will make up his own mind to what women means to him.

    If you contradict him, he will just push you away and avoid you. Most men i know who avoid women or who have no respect for women became like that in adult years, in teen years they were perfect gentle men as their mommies taught them, but the moment they experience women, gender politics and situations for themselves, they re-evaluate what women really means to them. I talk from personal experience. Perhaps you should teach girls rather how to earn a man’s respect, you may see better results. There is no way to teach a boy to respect women if women don’t respect boys back. But I guess that is politically incorrect to mention nowadays, against feminist policy.

  7. This is so true, many boys get away with disrespect girls, and thinking its ok. They do this over and over, they lie to thdir parents, and in turn their parents ‘think’ their son is picture perfect man, when they secretly are not, they are treating girls badly and thinking it is ok. Getting no rrepremand for they behavior. Their allow to talk badly about someone and spread romors about someone when in fact they are the guilty party. Its so sad.

  8. Alexander says:

    The social equivalent of a female slut is the male virgin.

    The reason for this is that generally, for a man to convince a woman to sleep with him he requires charisma, conversation skills, poise and many other factors depending on a woman’s preference (like height, a powerful physique or money).

    For a woman generally to convince a man to sleep with her, all that she requires is a pulse.

    Therefore, saying if a boy gets a lot of girls he’s a stud, but if a girl gets a lot of boys she’s a slut ignores a great deal of reality. Probably not on purpose mind you, but life isn’t fair and in attempting to make sense of it one must at the very least consider all contributing factors.

  9. Prachi rao says:

    I have started a page on Facebook as”voice of a common girl”
    Help me get to the people or the society…. Help me teach those boys who think they’re superior and can do anything…… What a mother couldn’t do…. I think it’s our responsibility to do the rest


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