“We can gather around issues that we care about and it’s a good way to teach about feminism… it weaves its way into where you live and work and that's actually quite beautiful.”
KELCEY AND MITCH ON RAISING THEIR DAUGHTER (2)
M: I grew up in a pretty conservative environment and gender roles were pretty structured as far as like the man was identified as being the leader of the household and certainly the leader of the marriage relationship.
Going to college, I was still carrying a lot of the fundamentalism of my childhood. As I was getting more into my studies and reading different things, I had to change the terms of my faith commitments. I was pushed more towards a sense of openness with my spirituality. That openness extended into a lot of other areas of my life and feminism was part of that. I was thinking about how women were sometimes not allowed to be preachers. The kind of openness that I experienced in my own spiritual journey naturally led me to believe that there's nothing wrong with women taking leadership roles in the church. For me, feminism is this idea of openness and inclusivity and it extends into all these different areas that come up for us.
K: I grew up going to church as well, but a little less conservative. I think it's actually a bit of a taboo word in certain Christian communities. And it conjures up ideas of challenging, I guess “God-ordained” male and female roles, and questioning what the Bible says. I just think it has a lot of baggage for certain Christian communities. For me growing up, I didn't really hear that word. As I got older and did hear it, it seemed like it was a bit of a taboo word. It took a little bit more working through on our own to find that it was a word we really embraced and identified with.
Now, the basic definition of feminism for me is any kind of work or action to pursue equality for women and men.
Feminist Baby Book
M: Probably a solid year of our daughter’s life, I forget when the phase was, but her favorite book before bed was called Feminist Baby. I don't know how much of that she's internalizing as this is what feminism is from the theoretical perspective. The idea that the book talks about is that she can be whatever she dreams to be. That's a really cool lesson for our daughter to learn, even though she's two years old. I think it's still a good, important thing.
K: The book was a gift from my mom actually. It's funny, we went to the Women's March. It was Mitch, me, our daughter, and my mom. Like I said, we didn't really talk about feminism growing up, but I think even in the wake of the election and all the political changes, those are things that we've as adults started talking more with our families about, which has been pretty cool. We can gather around issues that we care about and in a way it’s a good way to teach about feminism. We all took a picture together and I still think about how someday I can show my daughter that picture and talk about that day and those memories. Feminism weaves its way into where you live and work and that's actually quite beautiful.
Faith and Feminism
M: In our current faith community, we clearly value feminism. But with our friends it’s kind of a mixed bag. We are constantly trying to figure out how to be in relationship with people who believe in feminism and people who don’t. It’s also hard because I have plenty of friends who may feel uncomfortable with the word feminism but when you actually ask them questions most people believe in equality. Most people agree that change needs to happen in our society. But for some reason people don’t want to call themselves feminist. I don’t always understand why that is.
K: I think inevitably our daughter is going to encounter examples in the world that we don’t agree with and the important part of this is going to be having a conversation with her. While we do have some friends that would not identify as feminists, we have some who do and, and that's the real world that we live in.
Raising our daughter
K: There's nothing we've explicitly restricted. I think when it comes to what we buy for her, we try and not go over the top with girly things, but I also feel like sometimes that can be useless because she gets so many gifts and hand me downs anyway. I think part of that is just the reality of the culture we live in and that we're gonna have to have conversations. We can't really raise our kids to be gender-neutral even if we wanted to because you can't be totally cut off from society. It’s just going to have to be part of the conversation as she gets older. She has tended to like the girly things more and more. Whether that's just the things that are presented to her or if those are the things she really likes. I would want my kids to be able to play with the things they want. Whether it's pink or blue, whether they're female or male. That's the choice she's making and try not to overthink it too much.
M: For some reason, I have this sense whenever I see or feel like our daughter is very strongly advocating for herself. It's a kind of a quandary for me. Obviously kids do this all the time, right? They'll have a tantrum or they'll say I want this or they’ll be really assertive about something. And for me, I like that. I want her to develop that strong sense for herself and be the person who advocates. But I'm also her parent, it's a difficult thing, but I think about that sometimes. How often do we say about little girls that “she is bossy.” But when boys have that type of behavior, that's just how boys act.
K: I think a lot about the verbal affirmations. I work in a pediatric clinic and have patients coming in and out all day, so the girls will come in with bows in their hair or in their tutus and they always hear from everybody, “You look so pretty today.” So that's something I've really tried with our daughter and at work to be aware of. I try to say something more specific about them and not comment about their looks. With the girls, comments are often surface level. Even if she puts on a pink Tutu saying “That's a fun color.”
M: I think it's really simple. To not only affirming beauty but also for their main strength and intelligence and humor. Because our daughter is actually pretty hilarious. I hope we not only embrace feminism in our own lives, but also serve as a model for our daughter.