For anyone who isn’t aware, children are our future and in order to create lasting change on our planet, we need to invest in them. It is at home where a child learns everything that they know about the world — language, social interaction, gender roles. Therefore, it is my job, as the parent, to set an example and teach my son right from wrong. I watched this video recently that explains how feminism need men and men need feminism.
Patriarchy infiltrates every part of our world and it harms men and boys just as much as it does women and girls.
Things cannot change if only half of us are actively working against major issues of gender inequality. I am going to do my part by continuing to speak up against oppression and inequality. It will be challenging–especially as a young black female–but, I know that nothing worthwhile is easy. Feminism is necessary to create a better world for everyone, not just women. We need to raise our sons to be Feminists to inspire real change with the next generation and kill these myths on Feminism.
There are so many reasons I’m choosing to raise my son as a feminist, but for the sake of time, I’ve narrowed it down to what I consider the most important.
1. Being a Feminist is not a bad thing.
This stigma on being a Feminist has to change. I have noticed that a lot of people seem to think that it’s only for girls striving for girl power, but it’s not. Feminism, in its true definition is: the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.
“If you’re a progressive, you really should be a feminist because it’s about equality, it’s about respect, it’s about making the best of the world that we have.” ― Justin Trudeau
So if you aren’t a Feminist, you are essentially saying that you don’t believe that everyone deserves equal opportunities and equal rights and well, that makes you an a$$hole. #sorryNOTsorry. Buzzfeed posted this video raising the question: Can a man be a Feminist? I don’t ever want to hear my son utter the words, “No, I’m not a Feminist, I’m not a woman.” The fact that the video was made shows that there is not enough discussion in the media about what Feminism is.
I want my son to know that being a Feminist helps everybody.
I want my son to understand that identifying as a Feminist does not emasculate you. Feminism is about equality, it’s about respect, it’s about making the best of the world we have.
2. Having emotions is NORMAL.
Society is constantly telling boys to “man up”, “men don’t cry”, “be tough”. They are expected to be these emotionless robots. When they experience pain and sadness, they bottle up these emotions instead of seeking help to avoid being seen as weak and unmanly. Studies show that 79% of men commit suicide in the U.S. No one knows exactly why men are more likely to take their own lives, but in my personal opinion I feel that their subconscious need to hide their emotions eventually takes a toll. Girls are typically seen as emotional, docile, weak. So when a man shows a natural human emotion, they are told, “Don’t be a girl” I could go on a whole rant about the ignorance behind those words because there is nothing shameful about being a girl.
“But by far the worst thing we do to males—by making them feel they have to be hard—is that we leave them with very fragile egos. The harder a man feels compelled to be, the weaker his ego is.” ― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “We Should All Be Feminists”
I want my son to understand that every human being experiences emotions. If someone or something hurts you, it is okay to express what you are feeling. There is nothing wrong with being human, and humans have feelings.
3. Men can be victims of abuse too and rape culture shouldn’t exist at all.
One rule I will be drilling into my son’s head is that you don’t have to accept sh*t from anyone. Men and boys can be objectified, raped, emotionally and physically abused. If someone is making you feel uncomfortable, or feel unsafe, listen to your instincts and get away as fast as you can. If something happens I want my son to know that he CAN speak up about it and not be afraid of ridicule.
By teaching him that he has the right to consent, I will be teaching him that when someone says no, it means NO.
For some reason, people seem to believe that men can’t be sexually harassed by a women because, “why wouldn’t you want to have sex?” says patriarchy. Consent is consent. If one of the contributing parties does NOT want to engage sexually, then that is rape or sexual harassment. There was a social experiment done showing the difference in people’s reaction to a man being sexually assaulted vs. a women being sexually assaulted. When the man was being assaulted people walking by called him a loser and asked him “why not? She’s hot!” When the roles were revered people jumped in to save the woman. Neither of them are okay. No one likes to be pressured and made uncomfortable. Everyone deserves the right to say NO.
I will teach my son to understand that respect is key in all relationships.
Rape culture, whether you want to admit or not, is a real thing. Something that starts, with our baby boys. How we raise our sons to view women starts the spiral affect of rape culture as explained to near perfection in this video. It is much more important for us to reinforce to our sons how treat someone respectfully as it is for our us to explain to our daughters how to be careful. We need to focus on the root of the issue and not just how to avoid it because no one ASKS for it.
4. Gender stereotypes hurt everyone.
“The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are.” ―- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “We Should All Be Feminists”
Society is consistently telling us what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman. If my son wants to be a pastry chef, a dancer, a fashion designer, or play with dolls he should be able to without being considered feminine, or gay — like being a girl or gay is a bad thing. If he wants to wear the colours pink and purple he should be able to.
We start teaching them that colours have a gender before they are even born, blue is for a boy, pink is for a girl and they grow up believing that this is a solid fact.
Colours have no gender, clothing has no gender, gender is nothing but a list of made up rules by the masses. Girls are docile, men are strong. No one wants to hear they “throw like a girl”. Not only does that significantly diminish the confidence of our daughters but it instills fear in our sons having them believe that being a girl is bad thing and they want to “be a man” and “be strong.” Some even go to extreme lengths to demonstrate their manly-ness by becoming physical with others unnecessarily.
I am going to raise him to focus on his interests and his inner-self and less on his “gender” role in society because no one – and I mean no one – will be telling my son how he should live his life.
I want my son to be happy with himself and love himself fully and never strive to be anything other than what he wants to be. I don’t care what he looks like, or what he chooses as a career as long as he spreading love and positivity to the world. I will raise him to understand that these humans in the magazines and on television are not the ideal human look. The ideal is whatever makes you feel good and whatever makes you feel powerful. Let humans be humans, that is the whole point. If the individual is not hurting you physically or emotionally then let them be who they are and discover their superpower in their own way!