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Tilted S2: Episode 5

Listen to “Helping boys get out of the ‘man box’”

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On this episode

We know gender stereotypes hurt girls. But what are they doing to boys? From a young age, our society tells boys they must be dominant and tough. They learn not to show vulnerability or ask for help. That emotional suppression makes it hard for boys to cope with, well, everything—and it’s painful for the people who love them, too. In this episode of Tilted, we talk about how toxic masculinity puts boys in “man boxes” and how we can help them get out. We’re joined by two experts on the topic: Peggy Orenstein, author of Boys and Sex, and Dr. Michael Reichert, author of How to Raise a Boy.

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A few things you’ll learn:
  • Help young boys name their emotions. Many boys learn to express any strong feeling as anger—by saying, “you seem sad” or, “that must be frustrating,” you can help them connect to what’s really going on.
  • Give boys deep, sustained attention. Focus on validating their feelings, interests, and ideas instead of trying to mold them to fit an expectation.
  • If a boy in your life is acting out, don’t just discipline him—ask him what’s behind the behavior and make a real effort to understand. Hold space for his feelings and help him process them so he can learn to manage those feelings better in the future.

Discussion starters

Whether you’re listening to this episode with friends or your Circle, these questions are designed to help you dig deeper into the topic by sharing personal stories, connecting over common challenges, and workshopping solutions together.

  • What was expected of boys when you were growing up? Which of those expectations were explicit, and which were unspoken? Is there anything that you hope will or won’t be expected of the next generation of boys?
  • When you’ve interacted with younger boys, what assumptions have you made about their thoughts, feelings, interests, and behaviors? How do those assumptions change for older boys (e.g., teenagers)? How might your assumptions play into—or counteract—harmful gender stereotypes?

View the full discussion guide