A recent post on the user-sourced website ‘Quora’ asked: “What do teenage girls wish teenage boys knew?’. The page was filled with many users posting positive pieces of advice on how to navigate the complex world of teenage emotions.
The demographic of Quora’s audience ranges, but many of the answers to this question could be attributed to an older generation, with responses such as ‘Hold a door open for a girl’ or ‘Girls don’t like unwashed bodies hair,’ or ’Girls love being offered your jacket when they’re cold’, echo the sentiments of a more traditional approach to dating.
Of course, these suggestions are still applicable to (and appreciated in) the modern dating world, but several comments challenged the preconceived notions of masculinity and femininity. For example, a female user commented: ‘[boys] can cry and show emotions, we don’t care.’ In a time were the concept – and negative impact – of toxic masculinity is well-known, it is these messages that need to be communicated to young men growing up, as well as the importance of holding open a door for someone.
Interestingly, the thread of comments did not explicitly comment on the importance of consent in a relationship, although there were notable responses that encouraged the respect between young men and women. For young people, the subject has to be dealt with carefully but is vital to combat the high number of sexual assaults and violence that occurs among young people each year.
Liz Talley, an author and teacher, discusses this subject in her article ‘Six Tips for Talking to Your Teenage Son about Consent’. “Unfortunately… [historically] ’boys will be boys’ oft-dismissed behavior lent validity to the belief a male had permission to put his hands on a female – without consent or repercussion – and left society open to the same sort of harassment within the modern workplace.” She offers several practical ways to openly discuss the importance of consent that she used with her sons, including watching educational videos and approaches for parents to speak to their children constructively.
In her eye-opening article for Time Magazine earlier this year, author Laurie Halse Anderson remarked: “Teenage boys are hungry for practical conversations about sex. They want to know the rules. They want to be the good guy, the stand-up, honorable dude. Their intentions might be good, but their ignorance is dangerous. Our society has begun talking a bit more openly about these issues, but that doesn’t mean teenage boys suddenly have all the information they need.”
In her article, Anderson answers the question of how we talk about consent: “We talk to our boys. Parents, family members, educators, clergy and other leaders have the opportunity and responsibility to model and teach consent from the time kids are old enough to walk: “You don’t touch anyone without their permission.” Families and schools should regularly share facts about bodies and sex appropriate to the developmental age of the child.”
There are many subjects that teenage boys should know about girls and vice versa. The responses from the Quora article demonstrate the emotional and entertaining interactions that can occur between young people, but it’s also vital to discuss the importance of respect and consent – for both genders.
For more information on sexual consent, click here.
The full list of responses Quora is available here, but we have highlighted a number of the pieces of advice below:
– Girls talk. Your reputation is sure to precede you. Make it a good one.
– Girls watch how you treat everybody.
– Hearts are fragile. Do your best to stay gentle and kind. Every heart deserves that much.
– Some attractive personality traits are: having a sense of humor, being mature but not stuck up, confidence, intelligence, and down to earth
– You can cry and show emotions, we don’t care
– Most of the time, we don’t care if you have acne or braces or messy hair. It’s what’s inside that’s counts, like if you’re sweet and compassionate.
– Pick up lines-smart, crude or offensive ones won’t work. Keep them plain and simple (and unambiguous).