Teaching Feminism to Your Sons. Feminist Parenting.
My first favorite punk song was Launch Off To War by Cheap Sex. I knew every word and memorized exactly how many seconds to hit rewind on the tape deck, so I could listen to it over and over. I grew up in a predominately white middle class neighborhood in suburban New York. 45 minutes from the World Trade Center, to be exact. To say fear and racism took over the masses during the years following 9/11 would be a grave understatement. Friends lost fathers, teachers lost husbands, everyone we knew was somehow affected. You couldn’t blame people for being scared, I got it. But the fear takes over and creates such a monster full of genuine hatred. This song mixed with hearing Veteran by Ignite, opened my eyes and mind to the ugly truths and other sides of wars. Finding an interest in politics led me to social justice issues, human rights issues, and ultimately, feminism.
The following summer I fell in love with Indecision, who opened my mind even wider on political issues and now, religious issues as well. Finding out their guitarist, Rachel, was a female was pretty much one of the coolest moments in my 16 year old life. I’ve accepted the fact I hold different values and opinions from the mainstream masses on political and religious issues, but what surprises me the most is how people portray my feminism. I’ve been asked on several occasions, questions such as, “don’t you feel like you’re not really treating your sons fairly by spewing this crap down their throat?” This can only lead me to believe people don’t understand feminism at all; how feminism is beneficial towards both sexes, or how it ties in to my parenting.
Contrary to popular belief, I don’t stand in front of my kids barking “who runs the world?!” and have them stand tall, responding with, “GIRLS!” There’s this misconception, feminism is a hatred for men, and it’s bullshit. Feminism is the belief women should be treated equally – politically, economically, socially.
Feminism makes me question why society expects me to raise my kids in very specific gender roles. If my sweet boy walks up to me painting my nails and asks to paint his toes, I’m expected to tell him, “No honey, that’s only for girls?” Hell no. Or when he picks out a Cabbage Patch doll at the toy store? I won’t let that ignorant mindset inhibit my children and their interests. I’ve had family members joke about me “turning them gay” for allowing them to paint their toes. Wow, I had no idea that’s how you turned gay, thank you SO much for enlightening me! Seriously, I can’t believe I haven’t eye-rolled myself into another dimension at this point.
My kids can be super masculine hockey players who are obsessed with the color blue and big trucks, or they can take dance, paint their nails purple and play with baby dolls. It’s their choice. Who am I to dictate what they enjoy? But one thing I can instill in them, is respect towards women. I can explain why feelings and emotions are perfectly normal and healthy in both sexes. Why someone is not weak for having emotions, as other boys might like to say. What kind of message are we sending to our daughters when they watch us tell a boy they can’t play with something because it’s for girls? Or, their interests are limited to superficial subjects and they’re not good enough to be included in activities with boys. That’s a disgusting frame of mind, I refuse to pass along to another generation.
Feminism in my parenting means, I’m super open with my kids and we’re not ashamed of our body parts. We call a penis, a penis. They know milk comes from breasts and they know mom’s body is different from theirs. They have drums and Tonka trucks and hockey sticks, but they also have an Elsa doll, love Tinkerbell, and try to walk around the house in heels. They help me put my blush on and we bake together on the weekends. They rock and shush their baby dolls to sleep and wrestle over the basketball. Their minds are pure and open and beautiful. There’s so much ignorance in the world and so much discrimination they’ll witness, I can only hope to arm them with the tools, experience, and knowledge to rise above patriarchal crap. So in closing, no. No, I do not think I’m inhibiting my children by raising them with feminist values. I think I’m actually doing the right thing and changing the future of this world the only way I know how.
Jessica is a single mother to four year old Liam who is on the autism spectrum and his two year old brother Declan. She is a biology student, loves science, photography, and music.
*reshared on Share the Joy