Right now you are tiny. A girl is just another person to you, another friend to play with on the playground. You have neither hyperactive hormones nor societal biases through which to view females. But one day you will be faced with both those things, and I deeply hope that your father and I will have prepared you well when the time comes.
First, I hope that you know that women are your equals. I hope you believe with ever fiber of conviction within you that women deserve equal pay and opportunity in the workforce and equal respect and authority in the home. I pray that you never even subconsciously use your position of privilege as a male to succeed at the expense of a woman.
I want you boys to know that our society has a perverted understanding of gender. “Femaleness” does not equal physical fragility or a passion for cooking any more than “maleness” equals brute strength or enjoying hunting. We are fascinatingly complex creatures, us humans, and I dearly hope that you boys won’t put yourselves or anyone else inside a box that suffocates. Women differ in talents, strengths, weaknesses, personalities, and genetic makeup. There is no single definition of what it is to be a woman, and I hope you live as advocates for women to live fully as who they truly are.
Whether you ever marry or not, I hope that you value your relationships with women. I hope that you read female authors, listen to female speakers, and consider thoughtfully the arguments of female friends. I hope you marvel at the female body, not simply because it’s beautiful, but because it is fascinating. I hope you are intrigued that they are in rhythm with the moon, that they carry and sustain life, that they nourish a newborn completely independently. I hope that you have so much respect for this that you would never try to separate a woman from her fertility, for it is part of her very essence.
There may come a day when your body is overrun with signals that the girl standing (or in a photograph) before you was created solely for your pleasure. I want you to know in that moment that there is no cause to be ashamed of your biology, but that you do have the power to stop yourself from believing that lie. I hope you understand that your bodies are inexplicably tied to your souls, and so is that girl’s. You simply cannot try to remove body from soul without doing deep, deep damage to both yourself and her. I hope you remind yourselves that every girl you see is a whole person who deserves every human dignity she was created with.
There also may come a day when you promise to love and serve one woman for the rest of your life, and she you. My hope is that through that physical union of body and soul, you will learn to love and be loved beyond your wildest dreams. I hope that you feel completely safe and known before her, and that she feels the same with you. I hope that your sexual relationship gets better with time, as it’s meant to. I hope that your marriage bed will be a safe harbor where you can find shelter from the storms of the world outside.
If you do marry, I hope you’ll remember your own father scrubbing toilets and washing dishes. I hope you will desire to share household labor with your wife, since you will be sharing the household with her. I hope you’ll be brave to defy gender stereotypes, and I hope you’ll have fun doing it.
I am so proud of you boys. I can’t wait to see you as men.
*this piece first appeared at I Believe in Love on October 24, 2015