• Tue, Sep 18 2012

I’m Trying Really Hard To Raise A Feminist Son

feminist sonI’ve recently discovered that the feminist mantras I’ve been teaching my son are becoming slowly undone. All the years of warning him not to underestimate princesses because they might surprise you with a blaster gun like Princess Leia, as well as all those nights singing Annie Oakley’s theme “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better,” have lately felt like they’ve been taught in vain.

Between the never-ending heavily-made up Bratz dolls commercials on Nickelodeon, the gender stereotyping on all of his favorite television shows, and the sexist parents who (I swear to God) still instruct their kids to “Stop throwing like a girl,” I’ve had to do some reprogramming. My son lives in a world of standards: Barbies are for girls. Princesses suck (unless it’s the girl from Brave). Girls aren’t as strong. And because my son has developed early-onset world-class smart assy-ness, I’ve had to use strong feminist evidence to get my point across.

First, I’ve given great weight to history because my son deals in absolutes. (i.e., It doesn’t count if it’s just your opinion, Mom.) So about six months ago, I hung up a collage by artist Michael Albert in my kids’ bathroom that quotes the 19th Amendment. I’m serious. In all sorts of cut out letters it reads: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” The collage is a brilliant array of hundreds of pictures of women including Dora the Explorer, Pebbles and the Statue of Liberty. My son never fails to discuss the contents of the collage because he’s facing it while peeing.

“Mom, what is ‘abridged?’” he called the other day from the bathroom.

“Deprive,” I said. “Why?”

“Who was deprived?”

“Women. We weren’t allowed to vote.”

He stared at the poster carefully.

“Wow, who ever created that rule is a total idiot.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Like serious idiot. Like, twenty times a thousand idiot.”

I can’t disagree.

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  • Kate4423

    Good for you! Sure, boys will formulate their own opinions – but at least you are taking the time to show/teach him about women, about bravery, etc. My hat goes off to you.

    P.S. My 3-year-old daughter – who is constantly around her big brother and the boys from the neighborhood – refuses to wear ANYTHING defined as ‘girly’ (pink, purple, ruffles, etc.). She prefers to wear her brothers hand-me-downs, and for the better part of the summer she does not wear a shirt (except when we go to run errands – then the Superman shirt goes on…). She is free to make her own choices, and sadly – I get mocked for it. Just the other day, I posted a picture on Facebook of the neighborhood kids selling lemonade. 5 kids total – 4 boys, all with no shirts on…and my daughter, no shirt on. First comment was, “PUT A SHIRT ON YOUR DAUGHTER!!!!” Why? Why not say “Put a shirt on your son!!!” (and why all caps?). Bottom line, coming from a mom of a boy and a tomboy – I applaud how you are teaching your daughter about the choices we make….even if its as “little” as the clothes we wear…

    • Rosy

      Oh wow i love you! Im interested to see what the other people wrote in the comment section of you picture! I personally grew up with boys and always ran around with my shirt off!

    • AniAngel

      I was just having a conversation with my husband last night about how when I was little a girl without her shirt on was no big deal. The sexualization of little girls is scary.

    • Hayley Krischer

      Thank you. And lemonade stand sounds adorable. People commenting obnoxiously on Facebook about 3 year old children? Not so much.

    • Rachael

      That’s ridiculous. There’s nothing sexual about a kid’s chest. People are so over-concerned these days.

    • Ruby_Ruby

      Delete the crap out of that Facebook friend, even if he/she is your sibling/parent/BFF. I spent my childhood in a very rural part of a very hot, humid part of the country and didn’t discover clothes until Kindergarten. I was part of a gaggle of cousins who were close in age and always scantly clad due to the lack of air conditioning and nothing weird or sexual ever, ever, ever happened among or to any of us.

    • LinZoo

      Good point, I would at least delete their comment. That may send them enough of a message, if they even notice, that their opinion/advice is not welcome.

    • LinZoo

      Why does a 3 yr old need to put a shirt on? I’m sorry you have such stupid friends on facebook. :(

  • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Guerrilla Mom

    Sounds like you are doing a fantastic job. I may steal your collage idea when my son starts reading :)

    • Hayley Krischer

      Ha! Yes, or you can buy it from Michael Albert.

  • Ipsedixit

    Your son sounds like he is turning into a wonderful little person! A man who respects women will attract them later on ; )

    My MIL raised my husband similar to how you are raising your son. He turned out to be a fabulous husband. We equally share duties, we both work, and besides the tasks I can’t physically do (or would take me 10 times longer), we don’t have many set gender roles.

    However, it is strange to see the 180 my MIL has done with her granddaughter and grandson. There is a very distinct separation of what is “girl” and what is “boy” for my niece and nephew.

  • bumbler

    I dunno…all the guys I know who were raised to be feminists turned out kind of odd. I don’t mean guys with a descent sense of equality and respect for women, but specifically “my mom wanted me to be a feminist” guys. They seem airy, disconnected, and even a bit jaded that they are male in a shamefully male dominated world. This is just my experience, but it might be something to consider. (btw I live in the pacific northwest where kids are not uncommonly raised ‘feminists’, so I’m not referencing just one guy I know lol)

    • canaduck

      …how in the world are you able to tell which men grew up with mothers who encouraged feminist values? And if you admit that the world is “shamefully male dominated”, why are you perpetuating insulting stereotypes about men who treat women like people?

      Even men who have a decent sense of equality and respect for women–even men who consider themselves feminists and try their hardest to be good allies–have internalized some really, really toxic beliefs and attitudes about women as a result of our culture. The author’s son is growing up in a world that’s telling him at every turn that females are inferior to males, that we are sidekicks or accessories at best, and that we exist mainly for men’s pleasure. If you think that there’s any way that a child (girl or boy) can reach adulthood with an even halfway decent understanding of gender issues without the help of a parent, you’re fooling yourself.

    • IHateFatChicks

      Please STFU, you vacuous, vapid, irrational, shrill, histrionic, logically/factually/intellectually challenged fat slow train wreck.

    • Tina

      OMG. Just when I thought your rhetoric couldn’t turn me on any more, then I read this. I almost need to go have “private time” alone in the office bathroom. We are made for each other. Please, IHateFatChicks, PLEASE get in touch! I love you!

    • IHateFatChicks

      Be sure to remember the words necessary for your continued employment: “Paper of plastic?”, “Dominoes pizza, my I take your order please?” and “Welcome to Wal-Mart”. :)

    • Tina

      Okay, so that was kind of disappointing. Instead of giving me your contact information so I could sext/sexy email you, you started talking about jobs. Jobs are not really that sexy. But can you spew some more of your hot, sexy, uninformed opinions? I would LOVE that. Awaiting eagerly.

    • IHateFatChicks

      Tina, stick to you standard bucket of chicken, you fat feminist slag of a pig.

    • your ugly

      omg you have obviously have a really small penis and no life

    • IHateFatChicks

      And queue the standard put downs by obese, ugly women like you:

      Small penis
      Balding
      Impotent
      No money
      Etc.
      Lol. Fat, fugly chicks are so predictable, and fat. :)

  • maureen

    “Barbies are for girls. Princesses suck (unless it’s the girl from Brave).
    Girls aren’t as strong.”

    Barbies are marketed to girls; unless he believes boys shouldn’t play with barbies or girls shouldn’t play with action figures, I wouldn’t call it sexist. The Disney Princesses aren’t exactly feminist, whereas Brave is a strong female character, so no harm in him preferring Brave to Cinderella. And he’s right that women are weaker than men on avg, though girls mature faster and have finer motor skills at a younger age, so he’s probably been beaten by a girl before whether or not he’ll admit it ;) His response to the collage is what’s important and shows you’re raising a feminist son. So what if he doesn’t like Barbie, how he treats girls/women is what really matters.

  • Lastango

    Son in a skirt, eh?
    I agree with the sage that said, “I’m so glad there are two sexes – aren’t you?”

  • MLE

    Yeah I would say the “big dog” is a great character study in how to treat women, well done!

  • canaduck

    Your son is lucky to have a mother like you, and the world is lucky that you’re trying to point him in the right direction.

    • IHateFatChicks

      You’re pathetic and delusional.

    • Tina

      You’re hot. I am sure you are at least 5’3″ and weigh at least 300 lbs. I bet your crumb-strewn, unshaven pasty face is a vision of ultimate masculinity and hotness. I must meet you. Please post an email addy or phone number. I know we are soul mates!

    • IHateFatChicks

      So, this is what passes for intellect your town in the south. Good to know. Lol

  • wijayan

    I am not a western .I have heard feminism force to kill unborn children and feminism advice women to neglect family for selfishness.anti-male attitudes affected to women will harmful their sons

    • styam

      actually feminists advice mothers not to breastfeeding.if women condemn family chores.what will happen to human society.I think western people are suffering from headache called feminism.west n family has destroyed.
      there are . no family relationship in the west.men and women hate each other.west is a hell due to feminism.mothers hate their own children.what an unfortunate thing it is?
      I have seen western women clamoring keep abortion legal.it is a most cruel sight i have ever seen

    • Tina

      I not write very well, but still attempt to say coherent things about stuff me don’t really understand. Also,menot understand.spacing.orpunctuation.
      Or maybe this is Cookie Monster? C is for Cookie, and Cookie is for you?

  • el nino

    Congratulation for inadvertently bringing up future female-hater.

  • Deborah

    If your daughter were to say things against men and boys would you try so hard to teach her differently?

    As a mother raising boys I have to say that I disagree with you on some points, well mainly on how you say them. First of all you are saying that you are going to teach boys how they should treat girls, implying that boys need to be taught how to treat girls yet girls just know how to treat boys. There is no mother out there with a daughter who would state that they would teach their daughters how to treat boys, no they would say that they would teach their girls how to be powerful, girl power.

    Basically what I want to say is that we have it all backwords, we state things like this as if boys are inherently evil and want to oppress us women, yet girls are inherently nice and know how to take care of boys. NO!! This kind of thinking is wrong and sexist towards boys.

    I am a feminists and I believe in equality between everyone, but ever since I had a son I started to realize that we aren’t fighting for everyone’s rights, we are teaching girls to be powerful and boys to treat women right, instead of teaching ALL our kids to treat everyone equally. You don’t need to teach boys how to treat women, you need to teach boys and girls how to treat everyone equally. If we don’t then our boys will grow up taking care of women and helping them out, and our girls will grow up doing whatever they want and at the same time treat men bad because they were never taught how to treat men, they were just taught how men should treat them. You understand what I’m trying to say? I want my boy to grow up the same way girls are, equality.

    • Leigha7

      “There is no mother out there with a daughter who would state that they would teach their daughters how to treat boys”

      Mine did. She even requested a male teacher one year when I was in elementary school so that I’d have another male role model in my life, because she felt that was something I would benefit from.

  • B

    Why don’t you just buy him some barbie dolls and get him a skirt. Don’t let him be a man or anything.

    • Tina

      Ha ha ha! That is SO FUNNY how you equated toys and clothing with gender identity! OMG, it’s SO OBVIOUS, why didn’t I see it before! See, I always wanted a GIRL but I had nothing but BOYS. If I wanted girls, I should have just given my sons dolls and dressed them in skirts and they would have TURNED INTO GIRLS! Thank you so much, B. You really have changed my life!

  • zaloba

    (get yourself out of USA,UK) do you know which year men got to vote, which year females got to vote, which year blacks (including black men) got to vote. Do you remember before establishment of democracy, atleast the whole last two centuries , “more than half of the world” was ruled by Victoria, Elizabeth etc. Do you account for that, during those times when world was not voting monarch was being headed by Queens. It was not as bad as you would like to believe.

    • Leigha7

      By the time Victoria was queen, England had been run primarily by parliament for a couple centuries. The country (and empire) was really being run by people like Robert Peel and Benjamin Disraeli. Not to mention that the monarchy was very deliberately structured so that women would only reign as a last resort, and an entire religion was invented because of the desire for a male heir.

  • zaloba

    girls want to be house wife, world will still say how much she is controbuting to family. As a childless couple, now let her join office , and let the husband stay at home from Day 1 in the in-laws place. He will be labeled as useless on the day one by his mother-in-law, his wife will slowly start to drift away from him , taking him as a looser.
    So earlier ,when females were so-called forced-staying at home, weren’t boys being s-called “forced to be at office”.
    Can even today , can I goto girl and say that even till we have no children, I will be at home, and she should goto office.”Do you think that even a single girl agree to marry such a person.
    Is it not a sexism?

    • Leigha7

      “let the husband stay at home from Day 1 in the in-laws place”

      I found the problem. It’s one thing to stay at home at the expense of your partner, and that should be between the two of you and nobody else, but if you’re living at your partner’s family’s house, don’t be surprised if you’re being looked down on, even if you do both work (obviously, sometimes this can’t be helped, and it’s great when people have families who’ll help them out, but it’s definitely something that many people would judge).

  • lol

    Males and Females are different; get your facts straight. “Boys are stronger”?, Of course they are… they were built that way from evolution. Your basically turning your son into a woman, sucks to be him.

  • Allison Swanson

    how about saying you are trying to raise a humanist son, with equaliy as a basis not a feminist one, where female supremecy is the basis -

    • Tina

      I’m sorry you hate yourself so much.

    • IHateFatChicks

      So, how is the whole “gay, transgender” thing working out for you?

    • Tina

      Um, I am SO NOT gay or transgender because I am totally into YOU! Srsly, post a phone number or email address, I have some sexy pictures of myself I want to send you!

    • IHateFatChicks

      Sorry, but I’d rather not see a pic of a baby whale. It would make me get my puke bucket out. :)

    • RED Flag. this dude is nuts

      I think need to report you to the FBI as someone who my be a serial killer and may go postal.. you have issues big time!!

    • IHateFatChicks

      Honey, you’re an uneducated pig. Enjoy hell. Lol

    • IHateFatChicks

      Remember, you fat cunt, cut the long way next time.

    • mommy issues big time

      hey clueless why dont you learn from the game of chess.. the queen has all the power and the King has no moves.. obvioulsly you have mommy issues and mommy didnt teach you too well now did she?? you need to learn to respect women you ass

    • IHateFatChicks

      Is that the best your 8th grade education can come up with? Lol I suggest you focus on: getting your GED, getting a job that doesn’t include counting ceiling tile or unzipping men’s pants for $20 and losing a lot of weight. We can’t change the fact that you’re ugly.

    • mommy issues big time

      you are fn pathethic where are you from.. Kentucky.. sounds about right.. looser

    • IHateFatChicks

      Honey, I have homes in 2 states and in the EU. I don’t like in a Sh!thole like you do, loser. :)

    • come out of the closet home bo

      hey is that all you got.. you miserable looser.. how is your life working for you.. get one!! misogynist

    • IHateFatChicks

      I love when the fat man haters like you show up. Go brush your tooth, fatso. :)

  • Reggie

    > the red-headed princess from Brave.

    The “red-headed girl” in Brave was a wimp. For a real woman with good judgment and the fortitude to back it up just look to her mom. That’s a real hero.

  • Jesus_marley

    I understand that you want to instill in your child a sense of fairness and equality and tht is commendable. what is problematic is the way in which you do it. Denying basic biology, and feeding him half truths will not end well when he is old enough to truly understand what is going on. Men are stronger than women. That is an undeniable fact. That doesn’t mean that women are weak. It simply means that men, on average have a higher degree of body strength. It is not wrong or sexist to simply accept this a fact of life. As for the vote, it is important to understand the context of the franchise and that it was not only women who were denied the vote. The vast majority of men were also denied the vote and it was only after the first world war that men’s universal suffrage was granted. Even then and to this very day, the “right” must be earned by swearing a blood oath to the government to fight and possibly die if called upon to do so. Failure to submit to selective service, can result in felony charges and a convicted felon in the US is not allowed to vote in the vast majority of states. Women’s suffrage on the other hand was freely granted without any such requirement or expectation. I’m sure you told your son about that too, right?

    I’m sure I’m going to be labelled a misogynist troglodyte for this, but I don’t care. I’m raising my 3 year old daughter to be respectful of everybody, male or female and most importantly to respect herself. I teach her she can be anything she wants to be, as long as she is willing to work to get it. She wears tutus. Her favourite superhero is the hulk. and her favourite stuffed animal is Pinkie Pie. She will grow up to be a wonderful person and to not be a perpetual victim.

  • IHateFatChicks

    You’re ruining your son. You’re delusional and raising him to be a failure. Obviously, you’ve driven/cut his father out the picture. You disgust me. He won’t be able to compete, ever. It’s women like you who give women a bad name.

    • Tina

      OH YEAH baby…talk some more hate to me…I LOVE it when BIG STRONG MEN like you spew the idiocy, it makes me SO HOT…too bad you live in your mom’s basement and deliver pizza for a living or maybe we could have a future together!

    • IHateFatChicks

      Honey, so what is rent for your trailer? I can see that 8th grade education is serving you well in your meth lab. :)

    • Tina

      What else can you tell about me from my Internet posts? This is getting me so hot. Tell me more, baby, tell me more!

    • IHateFatChicks

      Only that your BMI is 43.

    • YOU SUCK LOOSER

      you are the epitome of a fn looser and exactly what is wrong with this country.. i feel very sorry for you and your pitiful life

    • IHateFatChicks

      Kiss Kiss. Lol

    • YOU SUCK LOOSER

      hey I bet your really hot right??? mr I hate fat chicks.. really.. I hate fn sexist pigs foofffffff

    • IHateFatChicks

      Did you ever notice that there are no hot women who are man hating feminists. Women like you are fat, ugly, uneducated and unemployed.

    • YOU SUCK LOOSER

      and you know what else.. i got your number baby.. its over your going viral baby!!

    • IHateFatChicks

      That hurt………..deep cut. Maybe you should stop the pizza deliveries, you fat slob, and get out more often. Always the hoarders like you. :)

  • wow

    Wow, Hayley. You are deeply, stunningly bigoted regarding men.

    • Tina

      Not really. You have to read the article and not just stupidly follow the other MRAs and what they’re posting here. Oh, wait. You probably can’t read more than two or three sentences at a time before needing to go masturbate again. Sorry.

    • whocares2

      “Oh, wait. You probably can’t read more than two or three sentences at a time before needing to go masturbate again. Sorry.”

      Speaking from experience obviously.

  • Whothehell Cares

    So want to raise your son as a Feminist. Be sure to expose him to all the double standards that Feminists perpetuate. That way, he’ll at least not be surprised when, as an adult, he finds he doesn’t have the same rights as women, and will not be treated equally by Feminist women.

    • Tina

      Ooh, another Men’s Rights Advocate! Those guys are SO HOT the way they never bathe, hardly ever leave the house, and talk about women on the Internet even though they never would have the courage to talk to a woman in real life. YUM YUM YUM

    • whocares2

      I’ll be sure to pass on your valuable insight to my grand daughters!

    • IHateFatChicks

      Says the fat slob who can’t wipe herself and washes with a rag on a stick.

  • Dustin Dean

    Eh… Never describe a person by gender, race, orientation, ect. That said, there’s a certain weight to be had for letting a person find their own way in life. I like the boy’s ideals in the whole ‘I won’t just go for an opinion.’ Especially if he’s that young, that’s a -very- good thing.

    I will say I have a bit of an issue with the heavy fem-fatales. It’s not because they want equality to men, that’s completely understandable (And honestly, why the fuck shouldn’t everyone be equal? It makes no sense that they aren’t equal other than the cultural growth.)

    Ah… But that’s the fun part about history, isn’t it? There is change, things aren’t constantly stuck in one degree, they change, grow, and continue that growth. Whether you’re loud about it or not, those rights will come. Still, I suppose it’ll come much faster if you continue to speak on it, right? Of course! Hence the Civil rights movement, had people not spoken up then their cause would have took far longer.

    Then again, I suppose war had a pretty damned good effect on that as well. Hm.

    Regardless, as a Deist, I don’t like that children are forced to go to Church… ish. See, I suppose I can’t disregard one thing… Children really don’t have rights, they’re not supposed to, that’s the point of being a parent..

    Huh, kids are kind of like pets. You train ‘em up, can’t abuse ‘em, feed them, teach them…

    Well then, carry on! But, for ‘Tina’ below me. I’d like to say there is value to the whole ‘Don’t put skirts on a boy’ thing.

    And there are a few things I do consider abuse outside of the physical type. Forcing a child to be without a binary Gender, hiding that fact, or attempting to dress them against the cultural norm… Eeeh, it can, and probably will, cause mental scarring later in life. At that age, they honestly don’t care, hell… Gender identity won’t really become a factor until around the time they hit puberty and start seeing girls or boys as romantic.

    Same with orientation, really. Certainly be accepting of their decisions… But don’t push your own agenda on your child, cultural norms might not always be right, but they’re still the ‘Norm.’ As a child… Well, they’ve got less serious things on their plate than ‘Fighting the power.’ Might be a better idea to let them live their life… Hey, if they want to wear that dress you saw at Walmart, hell yeah! Let ‘em. But don’t be a douche and just lead them over there because ‘I want them to know that having a penis doesn’t make them a man.’

    Actually, I think that’s one of my bigger issues with the Binary Gender… It’s classified, not to insult you, but because… Well, you’re in a system of Government that needs to indentify you for various reasons. Obviously they may want to know if you have a penis or vagina and be able to see that.

    Sex and Gender are, obviously, two different things. But ‘Male’ and ‘Female’ are, techinically, the sex of an individual.

    Actually, I’m kind of curious how Feminists can be for Transgendered individuals… I mean, the logic stated kind of indicates that ‘Gender doesn’t mean anything, you can be, do, wear, what you want.’ Yet, that’s the complete opposite of the Transgendered side. ‘I identify with male’ ‘I identify with female.’ That, in essence, is saying I ‘Identify with the cultural ideal of what a male/female is.’

    … Odd. I’d think that you can’t be Trans-Gendered and Feminist at the same time, now. Or, actually, support one or the other as their’s a deep separating belief that actually describes the two.

    Unless you’re a hypocrite.

  • lexlibris8

    As a 57 year old man raised by a feminist, I can tell you that you are making a big mistake and doing your son a real disservice. If you raise him to always look out for women’s interests, you will just make him a tool to be used and discarded by unscrupulous women he works with and for in the future. Teach him to be fair to others, ALL others, not just women, but teach him to have a realistic view of other people’s motives and look out for his own interests. Women are VERY capable of using other people and by raising him to be particularly sensitive to the “needs of women” you are just setting him up to be used.

    • GetAClueOr2

      Raised by a feminist too. Not only a feminists but like the majority of the women commenting on here, a man hating feminist. I got to hear endlessly about how evil men were, how men had always held women down and all the fun stuff. My mother treated me with contempt and my sister as a “sister in the struggle”. I grew up, decided they were both full of crap, have had very little to do with either. My mom didn’t understand until the day she died why I wasn’t all that interested in having a relationship with her. I decided that I will treat people the way I want them to treat me. BUT, if they don’t treat me the way I treat them, I will treat them the way they treat me. I quit taking stupid BS from anybody a long time ago. Go ahead, mess with the self esteem of your sons, you may not like it when they don’t care if you live or die later

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  • D

    Is there anything else you would like to do to beat down his sense of individuality or self worth?

    Imagine you’re a child. Then imagine the things you could be, and the good things you could do. Now imagine that every time you wanted to know about those things, the voice of god rained down from the heavens and told you those things you imagined were better off being done by other people, and how important those people are.

    Society is weak compared to the voice of a parent for young children. The voice of a parent is god in the minds of young children. What are you doing to your children?

    Also, men are physically stronger than women, but it’s probably best you tell him this. There will come a time very soon when he realizes through the magic of puberty how much crap you have been shoveling into him, and hopefully he will begin questioning you early.

    Your Serena Williams example is probably the most laughable thing you’ve written, seeing is it’s now widely understood she’s gotten as strong as she is by injecting male hormone into her body for decades. Better cut his access to the internet now

  • Rose

    I just love how you’re not allowing your son to have an open mind and a diversity of opinions. Why don’t you just teach him to respect women and then move on? He doesn’t need to feel like women are better than him as long as he knows he’s not better than women. Activism isn’t a mandatory part of anyone’s life. You don’t have to ingraine social justice into his brain – just let him be a kid. Congratulations, you’re raising him to hate himself. Great mother.