I'm a late blooming feminist.
It's not that I wasn't always for equal pay and opportunity, and the rest of the rights I should be entitled to as a woman and a human being, it's more that maybe I didn't necessarily think too deeply about it until the recent past.
The point is that I'm here now in my mid-thirties, sans any daughters to blast through glass ceilings with, realizing that I don't necessarily have to have daughters to be raising feminists.
I love my boys, I don't long for a daughter, I actually feel pretty relieved at times that I'm not mothering daughters because periods suck and the thought of doing junior high girl stuff all over again literally leaves me with the heaves.
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However, I'm super into raising my boys to see their female friend counterparts as less Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and more Lean In with Sheryl Sandberg and I'm sure gonna do my damnedest to make that happen.
My kids are still young (7, 5, and 2) and I'm not saying these methods are 100% because what do I know? Mostly it involves me winging things and calling it like I see it. If you've got any additional good ideas, please, feel free to chime in.
- Be an equal opportunist when it comes to friends. Boys don't just have to play with boys and girls with girls. Mix it up!
- Let them wear pink, or purple, or whatever color they like. Paint their fingernails if they ask you to, my boys ask all the time.
- Make doing anything "like a girl" a good thing. I like to point out the obvious anytime my boys happen to say stuff like "ew only girls do that" that I'm a girl and I'm cool, so what about it?
- Sign them up for stuff they're interested in, regardless if it's stuff that boys/girls typically do. Dance? Gymnastics? Art class? Drama camp? Piano lessons? Baseball? Volleyball? Tennis? Fair game.
- Get on the same plane with your partner/spouse/baby daddy. Look, my husband and I don't always see eye to eye on stuff but if I hear one more mom friend tell me something along the lines of "oh my husband would freak out if I painted Charlie's fingernails", I might scream because that's litchrally the dumbest thing I've ever heard.
- Keep the conversation running. I know I'm not going to get everything right or have all the answers but we can talk about it, always. I try not to shy away from conversations that might make me or my boys uncomfortable. In fact, I think the more conversations we have about stuff, the less uncomfortable it gets. Greased up cleavage on a magazine cover in the grocery store checkout? Don't avoid, discuss instead. They probably won't get the finer points of the negative effects of using sex appeal as a marketing tool, but you can hit the cliffs notes version.
I'm pretty much making this up as I go. All I know is that the comments section on Instagram and Facebook leave me feeling like I've got to do my best to make sure that my kid isn't the one saying stupid sh*t when ESPN posts about the disparity in pay between the US National Women's and Men's Soccer teams.
Boys will be boys and girls will be girls. We're the ones raising them so let's try our best to help our kids see one another on an equal playing field.