family value

I have four kids, three boys and a girl (no, she's not the youngest or oldest, as most people assume :-)). The world I want them to live in is a society of equals. Not one the one we have now where women still make less money for the same job, where women are whored in the media as products of consumption, and the very basic right of a women's autonomy is used as a political football. And those are just a small part of what goes on in this country, let's not forget what happens in the rest of the world. Nothing drives that home more than raising a daughter in this society. I also sincerely believe the sentiment that has been said here many times: patriarchy hurts men too. This isn't particularly about "the menz", it's about the insidious influence of the patriarchy and how it starts its unrelenting assault and attempt at assimilation at even the youngest ages. Nothing drives that home more than raising three boys in this society, especially a boy who is socially awkward, sensitive, of gifted intelligence, and non-athletic. It is hurtful.

The answer is feminism. Feminism is integral to parenting if we want a world of equals.

How to do this? Well, there's no handbook of rules but, as with most aspects of parenting, living by example/practice is generally the only way (kids learn more by your actions not your words, you know!).

Off the the top of my head, it's in "the bigger things": we participate in a larger community that actively believes in and supports feminism and other progressive values; we don't just talk about social justice (rather, injustice), we (as a family and as individuals) give our time and money to organizations that promote equality--and better welfare--for those who are marginalized, esp. women's organizations; we discuss the Why? of it all. It's in "the little things": we buy books that feature both girl and boy heroes; we avoid soppy movies that portray girls as living-solely-for-a-man singing dimwits; we encourage our kids in activities that play to their strengths and interests regardless of what they are; we don't listen to music that denigrates women; domestic related activities are for both sexes; when we tell our daughter that she shouldn't listen to anyone tell her she can't do something "just because she's a girl", our boys listen and it becomes not just a remote idea but something personal that they can carry forward.

One night at dinner not long ago, a male family friend told a sexist joke. My then-seven year old son looked him in the eye and said: "That is not funny." The guest was shocked and tried to explain that it was, indeed, funny (though no one had laughed). My son shook his head and said, "No, it was mean. It was not funny.".

Feminism is a family value.

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