Oh BOY, was that beautiful! Why your sons need female role models

U.S. Women's Soccer Team Wins World Cup


By DR. KAREN LATIMER

A couple of weeks ago I wrote 10 Reasons Your Family Should be Watching the Women's World Cup. After a U.S.A. victory in the finals last night, my girls and I were sad. While we were thrilled with the outcome, we were slightly disappointed. Like finishing a wonderful book, we didn't want it to end.

It is called the Beautiful Game for a reason. Many Americans don't get it. With our cultural focus on immediate gratification and tangible measures of success, it may be hard to appreciate the work and talent that contributes to exciting low-scoring matches. The highs and lows of soccer are intense, and this tournament had an abundance of both. My girls were riveted, and I so appreciated the examples of female strength, skill and perseverance. But, the most beautiful moment for me was after the games were over.

My five year old son, who had quietly watched every minute with his sisters, turned away from the highlight reel and said, "Mom, maybe someday I can be as good as these girls?"

My family watching the semifinal game against Germany in Montreal:
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Dr. Karen Latimer's family watches the Women's World Cup
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"Maybe, Shane." I replied. "You'll have to work really hard, though."

He nodded, a determined look on his young face. He understood it wouldn't be easy to be as good as the women he was watching on TV. It would take effort, strength and determination. In that moment, he was willing to try. In that moment, 23 "girls" were my little boy's most influential role models. I could not have been more thrilled.

From here on out, I will point out powerful, influential women to my sons as well as to my daughters. I will not limit my definition of role model by gender. Young girls have been watching men succeed on the field, in the operating room and on the trading floor for years. It has been natural for girls to strive to emulate men. If we want true equality, we need to foster an environment where boys, at a young age, do not think of girls as weak and prissy. We need to abolish stereotypes like Run Like a Girl and Cries Like a Girl. We need to raise the next generation, boys and girls, to not be impressed by a woman's success because she is a woman, but rather to be impressed by her success simply because she is successful.

The social media campaign of the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team is #SheBelieves. If we want our children to inherit a society of true gender equality, it is just as important that #HeBelieves.
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