This is Day 2 of the Feminists Fest. Today I am answering the question, “Why is feminism important to you?” Click on fromtwotoone.com to read more great posts by other bloggers.
When I considered why women’s issues are important to me, the first thing that came to mind was my own daughter. I want her to live in a world where girls are encouraged to enter math and science fields. Where it’s okay that she likes to wear Hello Kitty shirts with her big brother’s outgrown shorts. Where she doesn’t need to be taught wariness in elevators and on public transit. Where she will be paid the same for doing the same job. Where she can marry or not marry; have kids or not have kids; stay at home, work from home, or work outside her home and never be seen as lacking for her choices. Where women are people and not objects or caricatures. Where no one will use a gendered slur against her.
I also want my daughter to see herself and others as beautiful not in spite of but because of our shared humanity. I want her to be confident in her body and her abilities. I want her to love who she loves without apology. I want her to respect herself and others. I want her to set goals, follow her dreams, and be the person she was created to be. What parent doesn’t want that?
Of course I still want those things, but in my fierce defense of my daughter and what I want for her, I had forgotten something: I also have a son. My husband is a wonderful father and role model, and he’s a feminist himself (or ally, if you prefer). I’m not worried that my son’s example of masculinity is someone I wouldn’t want him to emulate. But I think my son also needs to learn from me that I want all the same things for him that I want for my daughter. He needs to see that what I’ve been saying is true–the world being a better place for women means that it is also a better place for him.
I know in intimate detail what feminism will do, be, and mean for my daughter. What will it mean for my son?
- That he will never again be told that dancing will “turn him gay” or that being creative indicates he’s not “boy” enough
- That it’s ok for him to say, “Sometimes I wish I were a girl. Girls have so much fun” and not fear that anyone will shame him
- That he can play dollhouse or wear dress-up clothes or like the color pink just because he does
- That even if the above does mean something more that it’s perfectly fine
The thing is, I may have had it wrong–I may have failed in some way to account for my son. Do you know who didn’t? I’ll give you a moment to guess.
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My daughter didn’t.
In her beautiful, holy, innocent seven-year-old wisdom, she has not ever forgotten her brother. They talk frequently about how all people, regardless of race, gender, or orientation, deserve justice. They talk about how they want to make the world a better place. He tells her he loves her and girls–she–can be whatever she wants to be. And she, my most precious daughter, tells her big brother that she loves him and the world is open to him, too.
Why does feminism matter to you?