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In a world where discussions on gender equality often focus on the empowerment of girls and women, it's crucial to recognize that the challenges faced by boys and young men also warrant attention. While gender biases affect individuals of all genders, the societal prejudices against the boy child can be subtle, deeply ingrained, and often overlooked. This article delves into the ways society's prejudices manifest against boys and the implications they hold.

One of the most prominent areas where prejudice against boys is evident, is in education. Society often holds stereotypical beliefs about boys being naturally better at subjects like math and science while downplaying their abilities in languages or arts. This bias can lead to subtle encouragement of boys to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields while discouraging their interests in other disciplines.

Moreover, the expectations placed on boys to be 'tough' and 'stoic' can deter them from expressing emotions or seeking help when they face academic challenges. This can have detrimental effects on their mental health and overall well-being.

The concept of 'toxic masculinity' perpetuates the idea that boys and men should conform to traditional masculine norms, such as suppressing emotions, avoiding vulnerability, and exhibiting aggression. This societal expectation can be damaging as it limits boys' emotional growth and hinders their ability to form meaningful relationships. Boys who do not adhere to these rigid standards often face ridicule or are labelled as 'weak' or 'effeminate.' This pressure to conform can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and even contribute to the perpetuation of harmful behaviours like bullying and aggression.

Society's prejudices against boys can also impact their physical health and well-being. For instance, the reluctance to acknowledge or discuss issues like body image, eating disorders, or mental health struggles among boys can result in delayed diagnosis and treatment. Additionally, the societal emphasis on physical strength and athleticism can create unrealistic expectations for boys, leading to pressures to engage in excessive physical training or even the use of performance-enhancing substances.

Addressing the prejudices against the boy child requires a collective effort from families, educators, policymakers, and society at large. Encourage boys to express their emotions freely and validate their feelings. Teach them that vulnerability is not a sign of weakness but rather a strength. Highlight diverse male role models in various fields, including the arts, humanities, and caregiving professions, to challenge stereotypical beliefs about masculinity. Implement inclusive and gender-sensitive curricula that value all forms of knowledge and skills, irrespective of gender. Foster open discussions about gender biases and stereotypes within communities to raise awareness and promote understanding.

In conclusion, society's prejudices against the boy child are real and pervasive, affecting various aspects of their lives from education and emotional development to health and well-being. By recognizing these biases and actively working to address them, we can create a more inclusive and equitable world where boys and young men are free to explore their full potential without the constraints of societal expectations.

Kantare Hesper

Year 12

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