I didn’t hear the word “feminist” until high school. I grew up in a family primarily composed of home-makers (and all the credit to them, because I can honestly say, being a part-time worker now, that the days I stay home with my almost 9 month old are vastly more exhausting than my days at work.) That being said: not once as a youth did I think to myself “I want to grow up and be a stay-at-home-mom.”
I have a questionnaire that I did when I was in second grade, where I proudly wrote that my future career would be a “paleontologist.” (1. I was a strange, nerdy kid. 2. I’m okay with that.)
Feminism is so much more than rising above the glass ceilings and ideal standards for women. So much more. It’s about being equally respected, with equal rights, equal pay. It’s being an intellectual equal to our male counterparts.
Feminism is a scary word to many, and often stereotyped as being said by the woman that lives some kind of crazy, nomadic life, and doesn’t shave her armpits or wear makeup or make dinner (which really, a feminist CAN be all of these things, but doesn’t HAVE to be.) To me, it’s always been having the option to do what you want. If you want to cook dinner and raise babies and wear makeup everyday? Great. You can totally still be a feminist. If you’re like me and it varies day-to-day, great, also a feminist.
Equality for women is far from being a dead subject. We have a LONG way to go. Keeping the ball rolling doesn’t just mean teaching our daughters to be strong women, but also teaching our sons how to empower and respect women.
My son is nearly 9 months old now. Soon he’ll be jabbering away, soaking in as much as he can into his little sponge of a baby brain. So yes, while he’ll mostly be learning colors, Dr. Seuss, and how to use the potty for the next few years… teaching feminism starts early! He’ll know that his little girl friends are his equals and treat them as such.
Why? Someday he’ll be in a workforce, or a husband, father, etc. He will be working with women on a daily basis in so many aspects of his life. He’s a white male, meaning that he faces the fewest economic hurdles of any race or gender. So he’s going to use that for GOOD and I’m going to teach him how.
The obstacles that he and I face in learning feminism are enormous. To many, gender roles should still exist. We have an increasingly sexualized culture, where woman are taught that looking hot and acting stupid will get you anything you want in life. (Turn on the TV for just a few minutes, and really pay attention… even food commercials utilize “sex” to sell.)
So my plan? I’ll be teaching him as much and as soon as possible. He’ll know that pink doesn’t have to be girly, and that a girl might kick his a$$ at a sport someday. I’ll surround him with as many empowered women as possible, and men that have the same ideals. He’ll learn respect, and he’ll live by it. I will teach him through example and try to be the strongest feminist momma I can be.
(I may still shave my armpits, but that’s just because arm pit hair is gross. I still think my husband should shave his too.)
My husband may not outright call himself a “feminist” but he definitely is one. He has pushed me to be the best I can be, and not trivialized my decisions. I was the bread-winner for many years, and he never belittled the work that I did. When I made the decision to go part-time, he was 100% on board. He helps with laundry, cleaning, groceries, and the care of our son. And while cooking dinner will never be his strong-suite, he’s as much of a “home maker” as I am.
My son will be a feminist. And his parents will teach him.