I came across this article floating around facebook:
It’s an unsurprising, but disappointing read. It’s nothing I didn’t already figure, but it’s a let down nonetheless. It always is when you realize and re-realize how far we have to go as a society.
I consider myself a feminist, an ally to disenfranchised groups, and a proud liberal. As disappointing as society can be, I’m grateful that we seem to be talking more and more about disparities and injustices. It seems that we’re fighting harder than ever, and calling people out when it comes to iniquites.
I think my notions and ideas surrounding feminism and liberalism have changed a lot since having kids. And get this: I think they’ve change more since having a SON. Betcha thought I was going to say daughter.
My girl is only two-and-a-half, but yeah … I’ve Googled “how do I talk to my daughter about consent/rape culture/self image/sexism/etc. Not that we’re going to sit down and have these chats while she’s still eating bubble bath and collecting pine cones, but I feel like I need to have a game plan. I feel like it’s a process that starts young and progresses. It’s scary to think about carefully choosing the right words so that you can impart information to your children without terrifying them. However, I feel like there ARE the initiatives, the resources, and a plethora of articles, blogs and insights written about talking to young girls.
I feel considerably more lost when it comes to the challenge of raising a feminist son. I feel like it’s a “newer” idea to raise little boys to realize their unearned privilege. Mark is growing up as a white male, and maybe he will fall somewhere on the LGBQT spectrum, but if he winds up as a straight, white, adult male, I want him to understand his responsibility.
I feel like it’s a specific kind of challenge in the Trump/alt-right/etc. era to raise a white male to know that he has all the advantages for absolutely no fair reason. I feel like it’s up to Andrew and I to instill in him that he has to LEARN and LISTEN. He can’t abuse the privilege that he has and he can’t deny racism, sexism, homopobia, rape culture, etc. He can’t get defensive, or get his back up.
He has to learn that he isn’t being asked to apologize for all men, but yes, he is being asked to align with others and support those who have less of a voice.
I feel like the focus will be on teaching him that he doesn’t need to prioritize being macho. He DOES need to be kind, thoughtful, fair, empathetic, and to check his advantages at the door. And he should never be ashamed to express his emotions or embrace so-called “girly” traits and qualities.
Sometimes I wonder if his birth order will come into play. Moreover, the fact that he has an older sister who’s already fierce, strong and stubborn. We don’t call her a princess because neither of us like the word, but she isn’t one, regardless. She’s the furthest thing from a princess. We also avoiding using words like “bossy”. I try and tell her that she has to learn boundaries and respect the word “no”, but I also think that she’s on the path to be a CEO one day. If she wants to be. I’m sure Annika’s nature will shape Mark’s to some degree. Hopefully he can look up to a strong-willed sister and see that as something to be admired.
He also has a Dad who is a self-described feminist (which to me is the sexiest thing). We both endeavour to parent our girl and our boy in different ways based on their individuality as people, and not their genders. So that gives me some peace of mind when it comes to raising our boy, even when I start to feel uneasy.
BUT! Some days the prospect of teaching a son to NOT be a mysoginist feels more daunting than making sure our daughter is a strong, confidant barrier-breaker. Though I guess raising children SHOULD feel daunting to a degree, because how they turn out has everything to do with how we raise them. If we’re not a little bit terrified, it probably means we don’t care.
Anyway. I don’t really have an insightful conclusion to this post, mostly because my kids are both itty bitty, and often I feel like I have no hot clue about what I’m doing as a Mom. So to have some tidy final statement would make it seem like I have all the answers, and I sure don’t. Instead, I’m wondering if anyone else has thought along these lines? Anyone else flying by the seat of their pants as they figure out raising boys vs. girls in today’s world? If so, how’s that going?