It’s about women.
But it really, really is about men, too. Because, for me, this is about L’il Boo as much as it is about anybody else in the whole world.
I have a daughter and a son; if my feminism isn’t about the men as well, what am I saying to him?
I’m saying, you don’t count. You, yes, you little boy with the Y chromosome, you, who is going through a phrase of such overloading cuteness I have the constant urge to squeeze you till you squeak, you don’t count. I don’t fight for you.
Well, fuck that.
And no, this is not a please-go-gently-into-the-night with those poor, timorous menfolk, poor things can’t handle having to share their sweeties plea. Fuck that, too. Men will, I’m afraid, still make up the majority of those lining up by The Wall come the revolution (The Wall, of course, being the name of the buildings which will be established to teach feminism to the unsuspecting masses). And if those men have to be brought kicking and screaming to The Wall (and they will), so be it.
But you know what? My anger comes from a place of love, my friends. Yes, indeedy. I have always truly believed that feminism will free us all. Not just women, everybody. Advanced theorists may want to turn away now, because this shit is the 1 in ‘Feminism 101’: the gender binary hurts us all.
See? Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
L’il Boo, who as you can see from the accompanying photo is cute as smush even from behind, is (to use a phrase from I Blame the Patriarchy somewhat inaccurately, but accurately in spirit), ‘my Nigel’. He counts to me.
And I see him now, at 2-and-a-half, still largely innocent of what’s expected of him as a boy. He is still, to himself, just a child.
A child who happens to like (in no particular order): his sister (copying? sometimes I think he’s the victim of a particularly successful cloning experiment); Kung Fu panda, making tea, cabbage (uh-huh, you heard that right), practising karate with his sister (see Kung Fu Panda), football, hair accessories, cooking, green trousers, pink (seriously, it’s the kid’s favourite colour, I don’t know where I went wrong) dresses, fire engines, glitter, his sister’s friends (due to second child neglect syndrome, he has few of his own), Tangled, trains (though Thomas bores him, so he has some taste), slam-dunking his parents when they’re least expecting it, chocolate buttons (but only those that come with a monkey on the packet), Octonauts.
He is, in short, very ‘boyish’ in many ways. And very ‘girlish’ in many others.
My god, what does this mean for his future??!
Well, nothing much I suspect.
But what is his future? In the short term, I can tell you that it will include a period of being INCREDIBLY LIKE A BOY. He will be so like a boy that I will be able to present him at an MRA conference and they will appoint him their mascot and shower him with plastic trucks.
Whilst he’s so far been seemingly unaffected by the gender mores he will be absorbing at nursery and elsewhere, make no mistake, the seeds are being planted each and every day. Some time soon, we will see them grow and they will sprout with such speed that it’ll take my breath away.
He will come to an understanding of what it means to be a ‘boy’. He will figure out the sheer, over-whelming importance of gender and he will do his damnedest to fit himself into that straightjacket, because that’s what kids do.
And it will break my heart.
I know all of this because I’ve been through it all before. Boogie went through a phrase of being INCREDIBLY LIKE A GIRL. Some time around turning three, she morphed into a fully-formed stereotype before my very (observant) eyes. Her favourite colour turned from blue to pink, girls didn’t play football and princesses were delightfully-dressed goddesses.
Christ, that was a tough stage of development.
But we’re through it and out the other side and Boogie is, once again, a wonderful mix of girlish and boyish. Which is to say she is a wonderful example of herself. She’ll try and kick the crap out of you as soon as look at you (oh, the martial arts! Martial arts is her new god!) but she’ll do it in a princess dress. Seriously? She rocks on so many levels, I cannot imagine trying to change her, trying to damp down certain aspects of her personality.
I will do my utmost to ensure that L’il Boo comes through similarly unscathed (I mean, it’s all relative, amirite?)
And L’il Boo? Well, he’ll probably try and kick the crap out of you, too. Whilst rocking a pair of multi-coloured fairy wings.
This says nothing much about my children. It just says we’re feisty down here in Boogieville.
Which we are. They get it from their mother.