(My son and I are inter-sectional feminists. “The view that women experience oppression in varying configurations and in varying degrees of intensity. Cultural patterns of oppression are not only interrelated, but are bound together and influenced by the intersectional systems of society. Examples of this include race, gender, class, ability, and ethnicity.”)
As a single mother for many years I realize my son and I have a bond that is extremely close. I have always been open and honest with him about life while trying to shield him from certain things that little kids should not be privy to.
I taught him about manners, self-love (which is not always easy), loving and respecting others,
I remember once having a boyfriend say to me, “I don’t think you have to worry about him as a teenager!” I couldn’t help but think, “Now, that’s a statement a non-parent makes!” Of course I’m going to worry about him! It is all part of the job of being a parent, the worrying never goes away. My response to this statement was, “I hope you are right but the truth is I can only teach him in preparation for what life has to offer. The second he walks out the door I can’t control what he chooses, I just hope in the end he chooses wisely.”
I think in the end we as parents try to do the best we can to not “screw-up” our children, knowing full well that we are bound to make mistakes that will come back to haunt us when they are older. I tell my son that there is no one book that explains how to do this job so know I am doing the best that I can. Recently, I witnessed that I might actually be doing my job properly.
My son has bad anxiety, something he has developed over the last couple years due to a few traumatic events he has experienced. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride but we manage to find ways to deal. School is tough for him, especially since we moved cities and now he is the new kid. So, you can imagine how shocked, and proud, I was when he came home one day and told me about a scenario that unfolded at school. A scenario where he went out of his way and stood up for the girls in his class.
The scenario played out something like this; a boy in his class came up to him and his best friends in school who happen to be girls, and the boy demanded that they leave the table so he could sit there. The girls were having none of it and offered for the young boy to sit with them. The boy refused and then mutter some derogatory remark to the girls. My son, who was ten at the time, stood up and said, “Well this might as well be the Civil War because this is a Civil rights issue. You need to learn a little thing called Gender Equality!” My son and the girls stood up and went into the school, told the teacher what happened and for the rest of the break planned a whole lesson for their class on gender equality and why it was important.
When my son finished telling me this story I was beaming. It was one of those accidental parenting moments where I realized that I had actually influenced his decision making and he chose to not be a bystander. This was a big deal, especially because he put himself out there, anxiety and all.
My son is a feminist. In our house the definition of this word is equality for all genders. It is a word that gets a lot of negative reactions and when I use it online, I get trolled and hated by many. These responses only prove to me how much feminism needs to exist.
In the work that I do with youth I am seeing many of the barriers being broken down, one conversation at a time, when it comes to how boys and men are groomed to objectify women and how girls and women and groomed to accept it. The new generations are more tolerant, compassionate and inclusive. These are important things to encourage and are essential in ending violence against women and girls. We have a long road ahead of us, but by educating ourselves on how we can nurture these qualities in our children I feel that great things can happen.
Don’t be afraid to raise a feminist son, it could be the simple act that creates a lasting change in the world.