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I thought I had somehow misunderstood.

The story had appeared on my Twitter feed, hooked me in, and now I was struggling to understand.

Could she actually mean that?

A celebrity had appeared on a talk show to promote something-or-other, and in the course of her interview, she had stated that women are smarter than men. Hmm . . . OK. This already bothered me, because I hate the idea that in order to validate our own gender, we have to diminish the other. But what came next infuriated me. To substantiate her claim, this famous woman used her own children as a case study, comparing her daughter’s development to that of her son. You can do your own googling if you want to read her exact quotes. In one portion, she compared him to a Neanderthal.

Well . . . 

The truth is, I would love to heap all the blame on this movie star, but this destructive narrative didn’t start with her. So who did start it? This push toward labelling our boys as “less than” in an effort to lift up our daughters? Who thought this could possibly be a good idea?

Not me, that’s for sure.

Moms of boys, I’m talking to you from here on out. To the fearless ladies who take on the task of raising up men, who fight to understand them and nurture them and love them because of who they are, not in spite of it. So let’s get a few things straight:

My son is smart. Super smart. I have a son and a daughter, and no, they do not learn and grow in the same way or at the same pace. That has absolutely nothing to do with my son’s intelligence. He comes out with things that blow my mind. Knowledge about outer space, animal descriptions galore, a hunger for as many chapter books as I can bring into the house. He often asks me how to say things in French and repeats them carefully.

In the same way women rock the world, so do men. They invent things, found companies, lead nations, fight injustice, make a difference. Maybe you’ve heard of Steve Jobs or Abraham Lincoln or Billy Graham? Yeah, they’re guys. We are raising boys who are destined for great things.

My son is complete. He is not some unknowable step down below female, longing mournfully for her logic and common sense. He is, in fact, very in-tune with the emotions and needs of the people in our home. He sees and understands things that were never explained to him. He is curious enough to ask questions, sweet enough to care how I feel about things. He is focused when he wants to reach a goal and understands when he needs to take a step back to make room for someone else.

My son is not a joke. Or a caricature. Lately, the standard media play on the image of a man is to make him the laugh track to a woman’s story. “Look at that bumbling idiot. What a fool.” Well, my son, this boy-soon-to-be-man is no fool.

Someday he may choose to be a husband or dad. And you better believe I will teach him that a man in those roles leads with love, is the best teammate and friend to his wife he can be, and is a very present and active source of support and strength to his kids. He is not someone who trips over ottomans, falls into chocolate fountains, or ogles the babysitter. He is a capable, kind man who understands and respects women- in part because of the encouragement I gave him from Day 1. Because I believed in him.

The thing is, I have been called a feminist since I was a teenager. I believe in my daughter so much it feels like my heart might burst. She will do whatever she sets out to in the world. Of that I have no doubt. AND. So will my son. He will take on his dreams, whatever they are, and I will do everything I can to cheer him on and support him. In every way that I support my daughter. I don’t have to push down one to lift up the other.

Because they are both important.

The world needs both of them. Equally.

Nicole M. Burrell

I have worked as a writer for the Newark Star-Ledger in New Jersey and as a Marketing Team Leader, with a focus on social media strategies, for Whole Foods Market. I currently work as a freelance writer, most recently publishing works with Reader's Digest. Instagram . Facebook . Twitter . Website .  Pinterest

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