Studies have shown that even at an early age, children are susceptible to the pressures of conforming. For boys, the pressure to be more physical during play, express emotions less, and suppress the need to express feelings of happiness or even sadness is very real. What’s more, these findings (which have found that beyond the stereotypes that push young girls into feeling as if they are naturally unsuited for STEM fields) boys are also affected and told that they should avoid interests in reading and writing.

These pressures can lead to grave consequences in the future as a result which almost always negatively influences women on a greater scale. The impacts of these pressures can be so serious in fact that national conversations about the gender stereotypes boys are forced to fulfill are increasing.

Loading the player...

A new study is finding that in addition to the various negative effects the current pandemic has had on children, it has one particular upside: boys are being given space to access their full range of emotions.

In the time since schools have shut down, authorities say that boys are feeling less of the gendered pressures they once felt in school.

According to a 2018 report published by The State of Gender Equality, one out of three boys will internalize cultural messages to “be dominant, physically strong, violent, unemotional, denigrating to girls and seeing girls as sexual objects.” At the same time, the study found that 82% of boys had reported witnessing someone being insulted for “acting like a girl” when a male peer cried or displayed emotions.

Experts are saying that the current pandemic is easing the social pressures many boys feel in school.

Peggy Orenstein, an author who writes about the discrepancy between male and female sexuality, chronicled the issues boys face in school in her 2020 book “Boys & Sex.” According to CNN, Orenstein’s book paints “a simplistic view of masculine normalcy that cut them off from their full humanity, from interests and feelings and expressions that aren’t biologically masculine or feminine, but are culturally marked that way.” According to the author, the pandemic “relieved a certain kind of social pressure they felt to perform because they’re in a more private space. They can drop the wall a little bit more.”

“Boys face negative long-term mental and physical health outcomes from the socialization towards emotional suppression,” Orenstein underlined in her interview with CNN.

The point? Quarantine is giving boys the much-needed space that allows them to express themselves properly and productively.

“The extreme stress of COVID has revealed that the problem is not the boys; it’s the boyhood that we make for them,” psychologist and author Michael C. Reichert explained to CNN about the behavioral changes.”If we create a different set of norms, make a different space, and see boys through opened eyes, we’ll see that they’re relational, emotional human beings,” he said. “Behind the mask is a beating heart.”