Imposing gender stereotypes on boys can backfire

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Research shows that our boys are socialized from a young age to turn off emotion, which in the end can do them more harm than good.

Gender stereotypes can be damaging to boys and girls, because it pushes them between two extremes of what a girl or boy should be, and could make them insecure about who they truly are.

Lee Essig is a graduate student at Brigham Young University who has done research on boys and masculinity. He says many boys are socialized to take on masculine ideal characteristics that may not be true to them.

Part of this conditioning includes holding in their emotions, which can affect their ability to empathize.

“Boys are taught the only negative emotion that is acceptable is anger. Fear or sadness or doubt or insecurity those aren't acceptable for boys to feel,” Essig said.

He says teaching boys to express their emotions is critical for them, but it’s difficult when society pushes against it.

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