Emma Comtois

The Majority of Girls Face Sexual Harassment with No Hashtag

Millions of women have now acknowledged that they have been sexually harassed. Yet recently, with no public outrage, major protections against harassment of girls were removed.

Why Title IX Matters, Regardless of Politics

Sexual harassment and assault are common, harm youth in schools, and should be explicitly prohibited by Title IX – regardless of your politics.

How to Talk to Kids About What it Means to be Transgender

With all of this media attention, kids who are not transgendered may have questions about what this issue is really about. This is a teachable moment.

Target Is Right on Target About the Use of Gender Labels

Target's decision to remove gender labels from toy aisles is important.

Bullying Hurts Everyone, Even Bystanders

A vast majority of teens are called homophobic names in middle and high school. This name-calling is not the result of kids being kids. It is bullying, and it harms everyone.

Girl Power is the New "It" Movement

Girl Power is the new “It” movement, and it is, without doubt, a much-needed movement. Yet, we are in need of a movement for boys. We need a movement that makes it trendy for boys to be nurturing, emotionally expressive, verbal, and non-violent. We need a cultural movement that treats nurturance and cooperation as skills that are just as important as engineering.

Shyness Doesn’t Make a Boy Any Less of a Man

Parents, teachers, and peers discourage and punish boys for displaying signs of shyness. We see that shy boys are consistently encouraged to be assertive and bold, whereas shy girls are allowed to be who they naturally are. This pressure to be assertive can be extremely stressful for boys, leading to physiological and behavioral problems later on.
#YesAllGirls too

#YesAllGirls too

The recent discussion on Twitter (#YesAllWomen) of the common experiences all women face regarding sexual harassment is important. It is also important to keep in mind that this harassment doesn't just start in adulthood. Girls experience sexual harassment every day in middle school and high school.

Children's Ideas About Gender Differences May Surprise You

Many parents assume that their children don't hold gender stereotypes, often because they work hard to raise egalitarian children. Yet, most children endorse strong stereotypes about boys and girls. They assume boys and girls are different in deep, fundamental ways. They assume that culturally specific traits, like wanting to sew or be a firefighter, are innate.

Why "Using" Gender Can Make a Big Difference Part 2

Most people assume that labeling and sorting by gender doesn’t really matter, that it doesn’t lead to big differences between boys and girls, as long as you treat children equally. But it seems that children pay attention to the groups that adults treat as important. When adults constantly point out gender, kids take note.
The Way We Talk About Gender Can Make a Big Difference

The Way We Talk About Gender Can Make a Big Difference

After four weeks of simply hearing their gender labeled and being sorted into girl and boy groups, elementary school children, both boys and girls, were more likely to say that only men can be doctors or the president of the United States and only women can be nurturing and kind.

The Body "Issue"

Although we have more gender equality than ever in sports, female athletes are almost always sexualized in the media. Girls are playing sports in increasing numbers, but they are not seeing that athleticism represented in the media. Seeing only skiers in bikinis directly counteracts all the great benefits that sports participation brings.

Give Gifts that Teach About Giving

Children want to help others. They simply need the adults in their lives to help facilitate this. This season, think about ways you can teach your children about giving. Make it concrete and have your children make the decisions about who to give to and what to give. This helps teach empathy and compassion.

Give a Little Piece of Yourself

Ultimately, children want positive time with their parents; they want this more than any toy at the store. Try to find ways to give your children this. This isn't selfish. Letting your children in on your passions is one of the best gifts you can give.

Buy Toys With a Shelf Life

Although the majority of mass-marketed toys are made of plastic, designed to promote the latest movie, or require at least 6 batteries of various sizes, it is still possible to buy toys with a longer shelf life. Greener, more sustainable toys, beyond reducing our footprint on the planet, also typically promote creativity and imagination, pretend play, and language skills.

Every Toy is Educational: Pay Attention to What it Teaches

All toys are educational, whether we realize it or not. Children learn all of the time, especially when they are playing. This toy-buying season, think through the values and lessons you want your children to learn. Nurturance and spatial skills, or violence and aggression? Make sure the toys you buy this season support and reinforce your values.

How to Enter the Gift-Buying Season with Parenting Intact

Now is the time of year to evaluate your children's toys, games, books, and movies. Do you like the messages they are sending? If not, donate them and use the gift-giving season to buy new ones. Here are tips to look for gender stereotypes in your children's books and advice for looking for better books.

Date Rape and Dieting: What It Means to be a Girl Today

In our society, it is socially acceptable, and even profitable, to sexually objectify and dehumanize women. Boys, who voraciously consume these images, view women as sexual objects for their pleasure, making rape seem justified. Girls, half of whom diet to be more attractive, are also victims to this mindset, dangerously objectifying themselves along the way.

5 Things Your Child Should Know About Gay Marriage

News stories frequently mention the debate about marriage equality, often trickling down to kids' ears. How should you talk to your kids about gay marriage in ways they can understand? The key is to use concrete language and remind children this affects real families. With two million children being raised by gay or lesbian parents, this debate hits home.

Throwing Out the Bratz

Now is the time of year to make sure all of the toys in your home teach your kids what you want them to learn. Sometimes we overlook the toys that sneak in over the holidays. A toy doesn’t have to be labeled as educational to be instructive. A Bratz doll teaches plenty! Just because you aren’t aware of what your kids are learning doesn’t mean they aren’t learning.

"Lipstick" Legos May Actually Reduce the Gender Gap

I hate to admit being wrong, but maybe the girly Legos aren't so bad. Maybe "gateway" toys help girls play with those toys traditionally claimed by boys. And these kinds of construction toys are good for girls’ cognitive development. So, if pink Legos help girls get involved, more power to them. Even if I have to stifle my gag reflex at all the stereotypes.

Boys Who Cry Might Have It All Figured Out

How we teach boys and girls to cope with sadness doesn't help anyone. We teach boys to repress it and we teach girls to dwell on it. So we get men who need to attend anger management classes and women with high rates of depression.

Don't Take Your Daughters' Education for Granted

Tomorrow when I take my daughter to school, I won’t be worried that some militant group might try to assassinate her because she is learning math. I also won’t be compassionate when she complains about her homework. Instead, I will urge her to become as educated as possible to help change the world.

Think Twice About What Your Daughter Wears

What your daughter wears matters. It affects how other people view her. Adults view tween girls in sexualized clothes as less intelligent, capable, and moral than their more modest peers. And we know, if other people consistently see us in a certain light, we will eventually see ourselves in that same light.
Does Your Daughter Think Only Boys are Good at Math?

Does Your Daughter Think Only Boys are Good at Math?

Girls who are taught by a female teacher anxious about her own math abilities are more likely to think that boys are good at math and girls are good at reading. After one year, these girls do worse in math than girls in other classes. How can mothers help?

Your Son May Be Teased for Even Small Variations from the Norm

Stories about boys who wear dresses and sparkly shoes are popular in the media these days. But these extreme examples lull parents of more typical children into a false sense of security. By pointing out these extreme examples, parents are often unaware of the ways that their own children may be affected by gender norms.

Does Your Child Get Overlooked by the Teacher?

You have heard the statements thousands of times. “You know how boys are” or “Aren’t you glad you have girls?” Hearing them repeatedly, however, doesn't make them true. To hold onto these stereotypes, we forget all of the many exceptions. Why should parents care? Because your child's teacher may be overlooking your child's unique strengths.