A New York Times published a piece called, “How to Raise a Feminist SonHow to Raise a Feminist Son” written by Claire Cain Miller popped up on my Facebook feed a couple of days. And of course, since the arrival of my son (my partner and I chose to keep the sex of our baby secret until he revealed himself), I’ve been thinking more and more how I can raise a man that respects women (both trans and cis) and people of all sexualities. I have been thinking of how this world is riddled with toxic masculinity ala Trumpian buffoonery and all kinds masculinity that doesn’t honor women.
But I also think about how I want to raise my daughter with feminist ideals. How do I raise her to protect her body? To understand consent? Not to be ashamed when someone calls her “sassy” or “bossy” which is often a gendered comment that never gets tagged on to her male cousins (also, how do I not feel ashamed when someone calls her that and inherently assumes that I allow for that “attitude)?
Anyway, I’m gonna get to my point but I’m gonna do it by talking about a pink pony.
So, a friend of ours had his daughter’s birthday party at a Build-A-Bear workshop. I was hoping that my daughter, Aya, would pick a regular schmegular bear so she could dress it up as a bear doctor or a bear astronaut–two of the things she’s super into. Instead, my lil homegirl chooses a pink unicorn pony with long tresses of purple and teal hair and eyes too big for its head but made for cuteness and a baby pink pinker than its body unicorn horn.
I look at it and I’m like, what? There’s so. much. pink.
But she loved it. Like at first sight. She hugged it and named it Porcupine.
I took her back to the choosing aisle and showed her the regular bear and what we could do with it but she was like, “I want Porcupine.” For real? Yes, yes she only wanted Porcupine, the Pink Pony/Unicorn. A little part of my feminist heart was crushed and the crumbs of it got blown away by Porcupine’s hair whip.
So, it was.
Here’s the lesson I learned from it: I gotta learn how to let Aya and Cy make their own decisions. I think this idea of self-determination is pretty freakin’ key, y’all.
When whole countries don’t have the ability to determine their nation’s political, economic and social agenda, they are often corrupted into the biggest and loudest voices–ahem, US imperialism. For example, the cancellation of the fifth round of peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippine is reflective of current President Détente’s inability to determine a Philippine political agenda that fits into the type of country many Filipinos want it to be–a country based on just peace.
If I can learn a lesson from geopolitics, I think I can apply that to raising my children. After all, as a friend Johanna Almiron-Johnson once said, the work of raising these children is the work of nation-building.
What if raising feminist children is not just about teaching them to treat the sexes equally?
What if its about allowing them self-determination?