“It is my goal to raise gentle boys” Sarah Sophie Flicker
When I was a little girl I wanted to be a doctor, a ballerina, an astronaut, a nun, but most of all a feminist. My idol was Jessie Spano; I would tell my uncle I wanted to be a professional baseball player just to piss him off.
As I got older, I learned about Gloria Steinem, read Virginia Woolf, listened to Sleater-Kinney and didn’t worry about boys’ opinions.
I kept my hair short and my opinions loud.
I had this, fuck all attitude to the world. I really took the time to learn about myself – my likes and dislikes and wasn’t afraid to keep an open mind to the idea my opinions and ideals would change with age and new experiences.
Then I fell in love… and it was perfect, it was amazing, it was a million feelings wrapped up in one person and I got all gooey and dependent on someone else for my happiness. I hung by the telephone, texts and phone calls made or broke my day and when we finally had our last break up fight I was left like this little huddled puddle of a human being.
Crying on the carpet, my girlfriends drowned me in wine and relatable break up stories. I didn’t even notice it, but something inside of me broke. I began to take on this very warped view of feminism and I began to think women should be a man’s backbone. It made no sense at all. The boy who broke my heart was very supportive of my independence and hated when I did little feminine things, like put on makeup or tried to dress up. I think in a way it was my terribly pathetic way of rebelling against the man who broke my heart.
I sort of started to roll my eyes at women’s rights activists, like, “come on we’ve made it this far right? Let sleeping dogs lie.” I went on dates with a man who told me to keep my hair long because girls with short hair looked like “dykes.” I went on dates with another man who ordered my steak for me, always medium, always a filet. I muffled the girl inside who before would have insisted on the bloody rare rib eye. I let men get away with way too much aggressive flirting at the bar I worked at, when in the past I would have told them to fuck off.
Then I found out I was pregnant. I felt weak and sort of alone at the beginning, knowing I was doing it on my own. My son’s father simply wasn’t ready to be a father, and that is fine. Yet here I was taking on this empowering strong stance of, “I am doing this alone but I am going to do it right” yet I still felt like a little scared girl in a man’s world.
I’m sad to say it took me until I found out I was having a boy to begin to snap out of it and realize I was responsible for raising a man. Would he be the kind of man who ordered a woman’s steak or let her choose her own? Would he be a man who supported women in every way possible and realized equal rights are a very relevant topic or someone who thought a woman had a place in the kitchen. Would he be a man who thought that because we vote we have enough? Or did I want to raise a man who told women their bodies, their decisions, their opinions and their ideas were just as important as everyone else’s? Most importantly, did I want to raise a man who thought with his heart instead of his testosterone levels? To me strength has always been first and foremost a matter of the heart and I wanted this little boy, who would one day become a man, to have the kind of compassion that would allow him the understanding for everyone from all walks of life.
I realized I wanted to raise a feminist.
So when my 8-year-old niece tells my son he can play with all of her dolls when he is older, I don’t laugh and shake my head saying, “he doesn’t want those” like other people do. I smile and thank her for the offer, then ask him if he would like that. I would never want to raise a boy who says, “playing like a girl” or doing anything like a girl, for that matter. If he wants to play with dolls, ok. If he wants to take dance class instead of little league, sure. I want it to be his choice.
The word bitch will not be used in our home; not to describe a woman, not to describe a dog. I find it is too easy a slip to make, and who ever thought it would be a good idea to refer to women as a crazed animal in heat? I will be careful with a lot of his vocabulary so that he tries his best to not offend people through his words.
I feel like instilling all of these ideals in him will not only make him a feminist but a better person altogether. My opinion on feminism is not only men accepting women as equals but everyone accepting everyone as equal. I truly believe that is what makes a feminist and, in the long run, a better, more understanding, kinder human being.
Finally, I want him to see that women can be strong and watch what I do as an example.
When I realized I would be a single mother, I knew it would be the greatest job and gift handed to me in life. That being said, I knew I would have to work for it at one hundred percent. I want my son to know the importance of hard work. I will show him the value of respecting your job and taking your education seriously. I will try my hardest to never let him see me struggle and if he does, I will explain to him what is happening in an adult manner. I will not cower in fear, or talk about how much easier it is for women with husbands. I will show him women can do everything a man can do even if it is differently, because where is the fun in thinking it can’t be?