Tag Archives: feminist parenting

Feminist Parenting: A Definition

Well, my definition at any rate.

Contrary to popular, mainstream opinion, feminist parenting does not mean ‘raising children to be feminists’.  At its most basic level, feminist parenting means nothing more or less than allowing your children to be who they are.  Allowing them to be as ‘girly’ or ‘boyish’ or ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’ as their nature dictates and giving them a bedrock of understanding that these terms are meaningless in so far as they are applied to them.

This of course gives us what ‘feminist parenting’ is not.  It is not about denigrating boys or their stereotyped traits, it is not about denigrating girls or their stereotyped traits.

It is about teaching your children both to be, and to relate to other people as, individuals.  It is about teaching your children to respect themselves and their individuality and, in turn, respecting others and their individuality.

At its core, feminist parenting is about celebration.  Celebrating our own uniqueness and that of others, celebrating both the things that we share as people and the ways in which we differ.

When I put it like that, I’m quite disappointed; it doesn’t sound very radical, does it?

And if, by some minor miracle, you manage to raise your children to understand all of the above, all else will follow.  Trust me, it will.

I was prompted to write this post by this one over at Pigtail Pals about this very idea of celebrating our children for who they are.  It’s the lovely long post I would write if I wasn’t so lazy and Melissa hadn’t already handily written it for me to link to.


The Trouble with Feminist Parenting

 

Mothering: about more than just baby poo

This is the trouble with feminist parenting.

I am torn between celebrating [my daughter's] innocence and apparent immunity to the more suffocating features of ‘girl culture’, and worrying about her being rejected soon by school friends for not being sufficiently aware of ‘girl culture’.

‘Mostly I’m all up in the celebration stuff but I won’t lie, there is a bit of me disturbed by all that ‘couldn’t give a fuck-ness’, too.’

I’ve written before about my own feelings on the subject:

…how do you raise a girl to be outside the girly-girl, appearance and consumerist-driven culture they’re being spoon-fed from every angle without making her an outsider to her own sex?…how can you teach a girl to not relate to the hyper ‘girly-girl’ model and yet still enable her to relate to, and fit in with, girls who do?

‘Because whilst I fervently want Boogie to step outside the increasingly limited model of femininity she’s presented with, I don’t want her to be, well, weird. Are you feeling me here? I’m trying to teach her to denigrate a model that the vast majority of her peers will believe in whole-heartedly, but I don’t want her to be the sad, lonely kid in the corner, amusing herself by putting her bogies on a passing ant.

‘And, sure, I can explain why her peers (and my peers) fall for all the gender shit that comes their way, but the fact remains that, on some level, the message must contain some implication that her peers are a bit stoopid. I mean, essentially, it boils down to: they may fall for it, Boogie, but we won’t because we know better.

‘And then she has to go to school and relate to these stupid people that mummy has told her about.

And I can’t lie, it does worry me.  But, you know, this essential problem isn’t limited to feminist parenting.  This is the problem with any style of parenting which falls outside the scope of ‘normal’, ‘normal’ of course being an ever-changing concept decided upon by the prevailing culture.  Any kind of parenting which falls outside these norms for whatever reason is derided and attacked.  Any kind of parenting which, in essence, teaches your children to be committed to something which isn’t the status quo carries this essential problem right along with it.

And with the status quo being what it is, what kind of parent wants that for their child?  Frankly, that’s just weird.

And there’s the salvation for my worries.  Because whilst I worry about my children being ‘different’, what’s the alternative?  Because I don’t want them to be ‘normal’, that’s for damn sure.  Feminism is my truth.  It’s a way of viewing the world which, having viewed the world in many different ways, is the view that makes the most sense to me, both to explain what has gone before and to change what will come.  I could no more not give this view to my children than I could go get a boob job and do the Cinderella gig at DisneyLand.

And my feminism is about more than a commitment to gender equality, it is about a commitment to equality of all kinds, and as such it goes against all kinds of ‘norms’, like racism and homophobia and able-bodied privilege and, oh, yes, capitalism.  And I will give all those views to my children because it is beyond my ability not to.  I am helpless in the face of what I know to be true.

Ha!  My kids have as much chance of being normal as I have of doing the Cinderella gig naked with ‘passive slave’ tattooed on my liposuctioned arse!

But you know what?  They’ll be fine.  Because there is one thing, one truth, which underpins everything, which is that everybody must find their own truth.  And if I am guilty of teaching my children anything it is of teaching them to look critically at the world around them and to make their own sense of what they see.  And if, at the end, they see it differently to me, then so be it.

Unless of course, they turn into Tories in which case I’m grounding them till they’re pensioners.


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