Feminism is a somewhat controversial issue, many adults can’t seem to quite grasp the idea that something called feminism does not automatically mean anti-male. Feminism is about equality. Feminism is an interdisciplinary approach to issues of equality and equity based on gender, gender expression, gender identity, sex, and sexuality as understood through social theories and political activism. Historically, feminism has evolved from the critical examination of inequality between the sexes to a more nuanced focus on the social and performative constructions of gender and sexuality. Feminist theory now aims to interrogate inequalities and inequities along the intersectional lines of ability, class, gender, race, sex, and sexuality, and feminists seek to affect change in areas where these intersectionalities create power inequity. I believe that we should utilise our time at University to have Intellectual and academic discussion about how these inequities impact our society. This allows us to go into the world aware of injustices and to work toward changing unhealthy dynamics in any scenario.
For me it’s crucial that my son is aware of the campaigns in areas such as reproductive rights, domestic violence, fairness, social justice, and workplace issues such as family medical leave, equal pay, and sexual harassment and discrimination.
Anytime stereotyping, objectification, infringements of human rights, or intersectional oppression occurs, it’s a feminist issue, so you might ask yourself why is it important for a young boy to tackle issues that focus primarily upon women right. It is crucial because our generation has the opportunity to break the cycle of internalised misogyny. If we reiterate the importance of consent, we will not be the parents of another generation of Brock Turners. If we teach our sons that it is okay to have feelings, that it’s okay to cry and to express your feelings then perhaps we can begin to tackle the horrific stigma surrounding male mental health and the high suicide rates. My son will not be told that he has to fit into a box regarding sexuality, gender identity or gender roles. He will be given every opportunity within my power to make informed decisions about his future in the full knowledge that feminist values are what guides.
It is truly astounding the levels of which children are being exposed to gender stereotypes at such a young age, the superhero outfits containing padded muscles reinforce the idea that to be a superhero a child must be a certain body shape. The length of shorts in the “girls” section compared to the “boys” section are indicative of the ways which girls are sexualised and taught that they should show more of their body to others than boys.
On a practical day to day level, I instil feminist values into my son by making the conscious decision to not label clothes, toys, activities, interests as either for ‘boys’ or for ‘girls’ in the hope that as he grows he applies this to his own personal ethos and perception of others. We discuss the physical differences between males and females under the premise that these differences are neither limitations nor indicators of our gender. For now, they simply serve a practical function and questions are okay. In general myself and my partner reassure that anything he wishes to do is okay, as long as it is not at the expense of others, It’s just as okay to enjoy wearing princess dresses, like pink, paint your nails as much as it is to enjoy playing with dinosaurs, trucks and lego.
I hope that as he grows he will be infinitely more comfortable with who he is, and how he defines masculinity for himself, that he won’t be hung up on how others perceive him or what “they” think he should be, he’s happy being the exact kind of person that he is.