As a Parent Sometimes I Practice Subliminal Feminism
In my house there is me (a woman), my husband (a man), and three sons (one practically a man, the other two on their way to being men). As the lone female it has fallen on me to make sure these men and men-to-be have some idea about women before I let them loose on the world.
(Those who know me can stop laughing now. I DO TOO know how to be a girl.)
But I’m not talking about lessons like girls like pretty things or always hold the door open for a lady. First, manners are not gender specific so hold the freakin’ door open for anyone who is behind you. Second, this isn’t 1952 and girls andlittle ladies are free to cop to having a broader set of interests beyond pearl necklaces and wrist corsages.
What I’m talking about are the concepts of feminism, equality, and basic human rights. As far as I’m concerned these concepts should be part of every parenting lesson plan. First you learn to crawl, and then walk, then read, then identify the sexism of the LEGO commercials. Seems right to me.
Yes, my sons are subjected to regular lectures on these topics because feminism isn’t all about women. Being a feminist does not require one have a vagina between their legs. I look at it this way: if I had a daughter I’d hope there were parents out there raising sons who would respect and value her for who she is and what she thinks and look to her as an equal. Hell, as a mother of boys I hope they meet partners who value them the same way.
Yes, feminism is for everybody.
I will admit I can go overboard and the kids do tune me out sometimes, but I’m okay with that. I’m going for a long-term cumulative effect as opposed to cramming in one lesson taught just before they get the right to vote.
I’m even okay with learning through osmosis. For example, here is a picture of my son as he sat riveted to a National Public Radio broadcast of the Aspen Ideas Festival panel discussion about women’s rights around the world. (You should listen to it HERE—it was an excellent discussion.)
His eyes are closed because he’s concentrating so hard.
OK, so maybe he was asleep but I’m certain SOMETHING got in there. Again, cumulative–if not semi-conscious–learning is always better than cramming.
When our children are tiny things cradled in our arms we hold them tightly and hope they grow up to be happy and healthy and successful. But sometimes we forget we are raising future adults, adults who will be the voices of this country. They need to be prepared. Not every lesson need come via a dissertation on the feminist movement of course. But we can teach our kids simple lessons right from the start.
Like every generation that has come before, our children will face tough decisions when they group up. Whether or not women are capable beings that deserve to be treated as equals should NOT be one of them.
My hope is when our sons and daughters are parents gender equality will be a no brainer and feminism will just be a word in the history books.
But we’re not there yet.
So today it’s ABCs, 123s, EQUALITY, and an apple for the teacher (AKA the parents).
Read more from K.M. (Kelly) O'Sullivan at her blog http://kmosullivan.com/. Kelly is a writer and blogger who isn't afraid of the feminist label. She is incapable of proper comma use but will fight to the death for the Oxford comma. Cast member Listen to Your Mother Twin Cities 2013.