We've all seen the shirt -- the one that says Boys Will Be Boys, except it has the second "boys" crossed out and replaced with "Good Humans." Released just a week before the Access Hollywood bus tape (aka the "grab 'em by the *%&@" tape), it's a rallying cry against toxic masculinity and rape culture. It makes a statement that this new generation of boys won't be raised to think their gender can be used as an excuse for inexcusable behavior; a statement that boys are good humans too, just like girls, and we should expect better of them.
But does it go far enough?
My son was four when Boys Will Be Good Humans™ came out. Like many other parents, I was trying earnestly to teach him about consent, respect, empathy, and kindness. I wanted to raise a good human, and I loved the shirt.
But lately I've been feeling like we need to take it to the next level.
I don't want to raise a son who sits on the sidelines tut-tutting at other men's bad behavior while patting himself on the back for being "one of the good ones." I want thim to jump into the fight and use his privilege to stand up for women, trans people, people of color, and all other marginalized communities still struggling for fair treatment.
I want to raise a feminist. An activist. An ally.
So that's the shirt I designed to pick up where Boys Will Be Good Humans™ left off: Boys Will Be Feminists, Activists, & Allies.
This design is all about encouraging our boys to take that goodness to the next level. And what better way to start than by teaching them words like feminist, activist and ally?
They seem like big words for kids, but they're actually pretty simple. Feminists are just people who believe everyone should be able to do the same stuff, whatever their gender. Activists are people who work to make the world a better, fairer place. Allies are people who stand up for other people when they're not being treated fairly.
Oh, and by the way - I'm the person who designed the original Boys Will Be Good Humans™ shirt. I still love it to pieces, and it'll always have a proud place in my heart and in the Free To Be Kids store. It's definitely not going anywhere! I just felt like the time had come to design a companion shirt.
Another reason I wanted to take this good humans thing to a next level is that I've noticed girls are more encouraged to be activists than boys are. We have a few designs in our shop that celebrate kids who stand up and speak out, like Young Activist and I Will Change The World, among others in our Social Justice Shop. We designed them with kids of all genders in mind, but I can't help but notice that I see more pictures of girls wearing them than anyone else.
But all kids have a natural sense of social justice, and we certainly can't change the world without getting nearly half of the population on board. So we've got to talk to our sons about joining the good fight.
I'll leave you with a fuzzy photo that's very dear to my heart, and a warning that I'm about to massively brag about my kid here.
Last year, after hearing some classmates say that the girls couldn't play soccer with the boys at recess, my five-year-old son proposed a school meeting discussion topic: "Girls should be allowed to do the same things as boys."
That's him sitting on stage in front of a hundred of his peers and all his teachers, wearing his hot pink Being Yourself Is So Punk Rock shirt, announcing his meeting topic and calling on other students to comment. ❤️
See all those hands shooting up? Lots of them had thoughts to share - and not just the girls.
That's because all kids have that innate sense of fairness and social justice.
If support it and nurture it when they're little, maybe it'll last a lifetime.