“I have to proactively do or say that this is my value versus kind of thinking that kids will learn through osmosis.”
ANYELEY ON RAISING HER SON (8) AND DAUGHTER (3)
PORTLAND, OR | USA
Misconceptions of feminism
In the very basic sense, feminism means believing that men and women are equal. So I don't really see it as a controversial topic. It's controversial out in the world, but I don't really understand why it would be from my perspective. The word conjures up a whole bunch of societal norms that people either think that someone who says they're feminists believe or don't believe. People who are thinking very much in a traditional sense of roles between men and women think that you can't think of people having different roles and also believe in feminism.
I do think that men and women are different. We might play different roles in different settings and different cultures and it's not necessarily a bad thing. With all of that, I feel like there's still the general philosophy that both deserve equal opportunity and respect. I feel a lot of people feel feminism is a prescribed description of how people behave, but it's more about how people think and view other people.
In general, I've just realized that my husband and I have to be more active. I have to proactively do or say that this is my value versus kind of thinking that kids will learn through osmosis. I'm realizing for instance, living in Portland, Oregon, in order to expose my kids to a diversity of people, ethnic, or socioeconomic, I actually have to make an effort to do that. I have to put them in spaces where they're going to interact with different types of people. I'm realizing now as a parent, I have to be more intentional about that. So even when it comes to talking about race relations and realizing that I actually have to sit down and talk about it on purpose. So with feminism, I can’t assume that I'm their mom and I run a business and I went to college and just assume that they're going to somehow understand that women are equal.
My son, for example, will say something to me like, "girls don't play soccer". Growing up, I was the little girl who loved and played soccer. My little boy telling me - his mom who played soccer as a girl - that girls don't play soccer, that's what I mean about having to be overly intentional with it because it's not going to happen naturally. He's getting more influenced by friends than me.
To start to see my three-year-old have interests in princesses was eye-opening. I needed to remind myself not to judge it as a bad thing, but also think about how to make sure that she's having a diversity of toys. I want to be mindful to push her toward what I think she's supposed to be doing or experiencing, especially in regards to toys or TV shows.
With my son, I've also done a lot of pointing out things to him that he might not normally realize. While he’s watching a show, noting things like “Isn't that really strange how all the characters in the cartoon are boys, but in real life, half of those people would be girls? Why do you think they made the show like that?” So it's more opening up a conversation to question. I’m more centered around questioning and letting him think through it.
The big one we've been doing is actively teaching our children consent. My son is a very loving kid and always wants a hug from his sister. So it's a perfect example when he wants to hug and she doesn’t, to teach him that it’s her body. She has the right to refuse. If she doesn't want to hug or kiss somebody, it's her decision. We can't force her. I know it comes from a loving and innocent place, but I'm stopping it right there. You’re not gonna teach a boy when he’s 14, you have to start early. My husband also actively shows the kids how to create boundaries when they they are playing, so they know how to communicate when enough is enough.