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Protecting Our Sons: Navigating a Radical Feminist Culture

Radical feminism and the crisis of male identity has impacted our families in a barrage of subtle attacks.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

I stared at the two plaques, the bustle of shopping momentarily slipping to the back of my mind. Each held a definition of either a girl or a boy. A girl was defined as “a giggle wrapped in sunshine and glitter” while a boy was a “silly little noisemaker covered in dirt.” My eyes shifted to my eight-year-old son who read alongside me. How did it make him feel? His sister, and other girls, were happiness and light while he was nothing but a grimy noisemaker?

I realized that what seemed to be a harmless decoration was, in reality, a damaging display of radical feminist thought. For decades, radical feminism has negatively impacted boys and men. They have devalued them. In doing so, they have created a climate that is toxic to strong male role models. And ultimately, destabilized the idea of a man’s leadership role in marriage.  

Radical Feminism’s Impact on Boys’ Self-Perception

Emerging during the “second wave” of feminism in the 1960s, radical feminism claimed that men were the oppressors of women and that the patriarchy, or a male-dominance, was interwoven into every aspect of society.

Radical feminists sought to eliminate the patriarchy from social institutions. While feminism has gone through many changes over the past four decades, and it can be argued that we are now in a post-feminist era, the impacts of radical feminism continue to negatively impact boys and men by devaluing their existence as positive contributors to society.

From clothing that promotes messages like “The future is female” to memes that explicitly ask, “Who needs a man?” and entertainment that portrays women as being happier in romantic relationships with other women than with men, we now have a society in which boys and men are continuously devalued.

How Radical Feminism Devalues Boys in Education

I dedicated 13 years of my life to public, private, and higher education. As a teacher, I continuously witnessed male disengagement with curriculum that was heavily slanted toward female students across multiple school districts.

This shouldn’t be surprising given that only 23% of American K-12 teachers identified as male in 2021 (NCES, 2023) despite the fact that an estimated 51.4% of students enrolled in public schools are male (ACS 2017-2021 survey).

In addition, males are overrepresented in school punishment, dropout rates, academic delinquency and, ultimately, criminal offenses in what is commonly called the School-To-Prison Pipeline. The drop in male enrollment in higher education institutions has become known as the “Male College Crisis.” While there are many reasons for male disinterest education, it would be naïve to assume that a social climate which devalues males outside the classroom would be significantly supportive of males within the classroom.

In some cases, this is the result of unconscious bias in an overwhelmingly educational female workforce. While teaching in an urban school district with a strong amount of gang pressure, I walked past an open classroom door in time to hear a teacher yell at a male student in front of his peers.

“You’re just like my husband,” she said. “You never listen to a word I say!”

Unfortunately, the teacher’s personal negative life experience directly impacted her interaction with a male student. While a similar scenario may not play out in all of America’s classrooms, many classroom teachers are in a generational cohort that was directly impacted by second and third feminist waves.

Radical feminism portrays men as the enemy and the architects of a biased system.

This confrontational mentality troubles interactions between the sexes. In a 2019 opinion article for The Washington Post, feminist Sarah Stankorb writes, “This either-or gender power binary is harmful, especially when we apply adult battles against misogyny to little kids…”

Stankorb goes on to challenge the helpfulness of social influences that elevate females while neglecting males as it is likely to create generations of resentful men. And this isn’t the only problem.

Faced with social messages that persistently demean men while elevating women, for some, being male simply isn’t worth it. The feminist era has birthed the gender-fluid era, a time in which men have realized there are clear financial and social advantages to be gained by becoming a woman.

Companies in the cosmetics and fashion industries have embraced the idea of gender-neutral styled products while openly celebrating transwomen. For some opportunistic men, this is a means of gaining the social affirmation they otherwise would be denied.

Practical solutions:

To counter this negative trend, both men and women should make a habit of affirming the males in their circles. This should be through verbal and non-verbal communication. Make a habit of practicing good communication skills, such as not interrupting, and acknowledging his input.

Encourage the male students in your life to reach for the stars while also advocating for practical steps to achieve those goals. Reading material at home should center around his interests.

Shopping habits can also play a big part in positively changing our culture. Consider avoiding clothing or other items that elevate one sex as doing so automatically devalues the other sex. Focus on “building each other up” and watch out for anything that can tear someone else down.

A climate that is toxic to strong male role models.

Unfortunately, as radical feminism worked to dismantle long-standing societal values, it also targeted the traditional family structures. The breakdown of traditional family structures often means that boys no longer have access to positive male mentors, such as a father or father-figure. And so, media representations of men fill the gap.

Because media representation is where a bulk of teens spend their time, they are influenced by unrealistic and unhealthy representations of men in movies, pornography, and social media.

Common media portrayals of submissive males, androgynous females, and women as sexual objects, challenge biblical values that call for godly men to be providers, protectors, and decision-makers.

Even more problematic is the growing acceptance of domestic violence, especially against women.

Recent research suggests that media representation of aggression against women have resulted in greater acceptance of attitudes that support domestic violence (Gavin & Krius, 2022). Let me be clear: strong men do not tolerate violence against women. In fact, they actively work against it. The lack of strong positive male role models in daily living opens the door for males to develop unhealthy attitudes toward women.    

Practical Solutions:

Mentorship generates lifelong mindsets that impact many areas of life. In relationships where a positive role model is absent, parents should consider exploring community organizations that foster youth leadership and service.

Capitalize on male leaders in churches or athletics to cultivate healthy strengths.

Finally, curate movie selections to be sure they feature positive male role models and discourage negative actions such as domestic violence and criminal activity. At home, men should be encouraged to take an active role in decision-making with young men being tasked with achievable, but challenging, personal goals.

The destabilization of a man’s leadership role in marriage.

For decades, radical feminists have characterized the Bible as patriarchal. Sadly, the church has not rejected this thinking and radical feminism has impacted the way the Bible is interpreted in many Christian marriages.

While every relationship will have its own unique dynamics. The biblical marriage model calls for a man to lead his home. That leadership is to be balanced by love for his wife and children. But because radical feminism calls for the overthrow of male leadership in society. The seeds of conflict in a relationship are present from the moment the biblical approach is replaced with radical feminism.

Allowing feminism to explain away biblical passages that support male headship sabotages the relationship and causes confusion. When a couple leaves the biblical model, neither party can be clear on what God’s expectations are of the relationship.

In addition, a man may feel emotionally threatened in a relationship if his wife continuously challenges or undermines his authority. Secular culture often portrays the ideal male as passive. This is vastly different from the godly headship role that God intended. Male leadership is only possible in a marriage if both parties agree to the biblical blueprint.

It is important to realize that there is balance to God’s equation.

Godly men see leadership as a sacred responsibility not a biological birthright. Contrary to messages spouted by radical feminism, a good husband doesn’t see his biblical role as a means of oppressing or demeaning women. Frankly, the scripture commands him to be sacrificial. He is to love, cherish, and care for his wife (Ephesians 5).

When this biblical love/honor dynamic is consistently integrated into the marriage landscape, both parties in the relationship benefit.

Practical Solutions:

Christian couples can counter radical feminism’s influence on marriage by reading through passages of scripture together and choosing to take them at face value. Together, they should commit to a applying the biblical principles of love and honor. Both parties should ask each other open-ended questions such as:

Do you feel that I love/honor you?

How do I make you feel loved/honored?

What can I do to make you feel more loved/honored?

Together, you can outline action steps that reject the sociocultural influences of radical feminism and, instead, reflect biblical principles in your marriage, and raising up godly men.

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