There are obviously, many types of feminist definitions and ideals. Because no two women are ever truly the same, I think that it's only necessary that it take on a different meaning. My favorite quote goes a little something like this:
I love that idea of feminism. The idea of a world where I am able to become whoever I want, however I want, and not be boxed in by rules, guidelines, or by men. I like that for women, feminism can take on a different shape, a different look. It's not just one small box by which we are trying to cram everyone of us into. But I also like it because it pretty much applies to everyone, not just me as a woman.
When I had Girlie, my mind raced with all the things she'd have to face. All the issues she'd have to deal with as a woman, a girl. I knew that part of my job as her Mother would be to raise her in such away where she would value herself to challenge our societal norms, and realize that only SHE is the boss of her. I hope, how I hope, that I raise my daughter to be a feminist, in whatever that means for her.
|Proudly wearing his Amber Necklace that has garnered criticism from others.|
I've been blindsided by the intense gender stereotyping that happens to boys, as my Potato has grown. When he was around 18 months, Potato developed a love for helping me clean around the house. I searched high and low for pretend cleaning tools, but hit a wall every single time- they were all pink. It made no matter to me if he used something pink, but I refused to play into the stereotype that pretending to clean was only associated with GIRLS.
In that same month, Potato took a love to pushing his stuffed animals around in anything that had wheels, so off I went to find him a doll stroller. Again, I was met with pink, pink and more pink. This time, rolling my eyes, I settled on a pink and blue stroller. As I brought it out to the car, The Hubby, wide eyed with fear said,
"BUT IT'S PINK!?!"
I won't relive the entire tongue lashing that I gave him, but essentially, I told him that if Potato was a girl and wanted a pair of hockey sticks, neither the color of the sticks, or the fact that she/he was interested in a primarily male dominated sport would come into play. I told him that we would NEVER be the ones to place stereotypes on our children, and quite frankly, he'd have to get over the pink stroller.
Since these incidents, I've become a lot more sensitive to the ever growing list of things that society puts out on our children- girls do that, boys do this. There seems to be little wiggle room though for girls at this age. When a girl likes Thomas The Train or Diego, Cars or any boy orientated cartoon, there is no raised eye brows. When a girl wishes to play soccer, or hockey, no one even whispers. As we start getting closer together in demographic, some of the issues that girls face become similar to the ones that are impressed on boys (though they are entirely separate issues). Then, as both groups grow older, the gender bias starts to become distinctly different for each group. But it's still the same. The idea that our children should behave based on their gender.
What I fail to understand in this scenario, or with this line of thinking is, "Why does my son being fascinated in the unfamiliar make him likely to 'grow up and be gay'?" Are woman not always complaining that they wish men were more in touch with their feelings, that they had some sensitivity toward the world, and perhaps women in general? Do we not bemoan the male who ends up in a relationship and has been provided with no life skills because he was a boy? (Ahem, The Hubby). I know when The Hubby and I got together, I was at a loss of all the little things that he had NO idea how to do. Cooking? Not a chance. Properly doing laundry? Nope. Budgeting? Nope. He even struggles with knowing when to be sensitive, and when it's a good time to turn the laugh factory off. I love him, don't get me wrong, but he was raised in a home where the men can leave their plates on the table, but heaven forbid I do it.*
"Wow. You're going to want to get that sensitivity stuff under control with him. He's going to end being emo...or worse, GAY!"
Years ago, some male counterpart said this to me about my sweet Potato. Yes, my child is sensitive, but at the age he was, at a whole whopping 18 months? I was astounded and shocked that a grown adult could view the world so narrowly. I didn't say anything, I sort of shrugged my shoulders and moved on. Honestly, I had no idea what to say, and all I could do was gather my jaw up off the floor so I could walk away. This was one my first indications that there was some pressure on boys to be a specific way.
I've since had conversations with people who said they would love their kids differently if they ended up gay, and strive to avoid it (like this is possible). My mind can't even comprehend this logic. It fails to compute.
|Pretending to nurse; mothering isn't just for mothers.|
So, as adults, if these are the kind of boys we are marrying, the kind that lack sensitivity, who can't fend for themselves without someone caring for them, why do we as a society continue to allow this to happen? Why are we so afraid of a generation of boys who a respectful of women in all ways, that know how to care for themselves, and don't expect women do it for them? We can raise a generation of confident, intelligent boys. Boys who understand and execute empathy, and sympathy. Boys who understand that it's okay to take interest in the more feminine, and it doesn't mean you are gay, or will be gay, or might be weird.
Obviously, it's not possible to avoid all gender bias. It's bound to happen; I see myself putting Girlie in pink clothes, and searching out "pretty diapers". Both The Hubby and I have tried, since the Pink Stroller Incident to keep the gender expectations out of the home; our kids are free to grow as they wish, and as they get older, they can indicate their likes and dislikes. Maybe Potato will grow out of this love of baking, and make up, dancing, and pink. Maybe he'll adore baseball or football, and this will be something we remember from when he was a kid. Either way, whatever he becomes, is fine with me. There will be no expectation based on his gender, or sexual preference. He is what he is, and he was born to be whatever he was designed to be.
I am raising a children who will grow up to be a feminists and will look at their partners as equals. Children who will not consider gender a limitation, and will challenge anyone who decidedly puts them into a confining box based on their sex.
*This scenario actually occurred. The Hubby comes from a more conservative thinking family when it comes to gender roles, and when I didn't clear my plate on one occasion, I was labelled as lazy.