Am I a feminist?

Monday


Me: "I mean, I'm not even a feminist and I'm pissed. I mean...do you think I'm a feminist?!"

My friend laughed at me (because she totally thinks I'm a feminist) then said in a serious tone:
"...but shouldn't we all be feminist?"


The backstory:
I was extremely frustrated on that particular day because I had just bought a 'boys book' for my son which included topics like "starting a fire from scratch" and "how to survive an avalanche" and I was trying to find the girls equivalent. The problem was that although it was available for girls, it included much different topics such as "how to give yourself a pedicure at home".

When my daughter looked through some of the topic headings I could see her visibly looking confused, then a few seconds later she looked deflated. By the time she had read through the rest of the topics she looked downright defeated and she was angry. She asked me why it wasn't as fun as the boys book - she asked me if they thought girls couldn't make a fire or something? She actually felt that her worth was perceived as less than.




According to the dictionary:
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Feminist

adjective, sometimes, feministic
1. advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men.

noun
2. an advocate of such rights.
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It occurred to me that I've grown up with the idea that feminism is only for the extreme, the butch women who loiter around the auto parts store with dirt under their fingernails attesting to their "toughness" or women who have distrust for or detest men - but that's not true. It's not true at all. Raising my daughter has re-opened old wounds that I think I'd nearly forgotten about. It has reminded me of situations in my life where I had became acutely aware of my gender and society's assumed limitations or expectations. I genuinely thought that by the time I had my own kids things would be much more progressive, but in truth, I don't see that much change - or, I don't see enough change.

And to answer my friend's question, YES, I think we should all be feminists, because I believe there is plenty of work left to do on this topic.

Sometimes I overhear other parents expressing the same concerns and that they feel their awareness has been raised because they are raising girls, which I also feel, but even more so I am finding myself equally challenged as I raise my sons to see their sister as smart, strong and every bit as capable as they are. There is no dispute that we (girls and boys/ men and women) are different, it would be absurd not to acknowledge that. However, as I raise my children, I hope that both my boys and my girl are able to grow into the people they were meant to be without being stifled or suffocated by gender perceptions. I want them each to explore physically, artistically and academically to their fullest potentials so that they can truly discover all that they are capable of becoming.

Disclaimer: I feel compelled to mention that I learned first hand, with our son who came first, that boys also face their own number of gender based expectations that can be very stifling as well. I simply am choosing to focus on one issue at a time and this day...it went to the girls.

Personal tip:
I already have many books for my daughter to read about women in history, empowering books for girls, but I think I may have our sons read them too.

Resources:
A Mighty Girl Facebook page has wonderful articles and reading suggestions


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by mlekoshi