Friday, September 12, 2008

Feminist Parenting A Radical Act Of Love

This post is entirely inspired by a comment left on this blog by Meadster.

Renee, you condemn parents for spanking but I am willing to bet that your treatment of your children amounts emotional abuse more damaging than the so-called physical abuse of the average spanking parent. After all your children are boys, males, future men and clearly males can do no right, never deserve praise or kind words for anything. Your partner may get off on that sort of treatment, but your boys did not choose to be born to a man-hating mother. Of course, maybe you make exceptions for your own children. One can hope.

This ignorant shit has been permanently banned from commenting here. No one speaks about my family....now on to the purpose of this post.

The basic premise of his idiocy is that because I am a womanist/feminist I hate all men and would therefore emotionally abuse my male children.  Teaching a male child to own his privileges from birth of course is abusive because I am denying my sons the opportunity to believe that the world should revolve around them.

I am sure that it is patently obvious that I live my politics and as such my mothering is very much informed by my feminism.  Unlike many 7 year olds Destruction (my pet name for him) is daily encouraged to think critically.  At our dinner table we discuss current events, politics, religion, racism, sexism, homophobia, class, gender and sexuality.  No conversation is ever considered taboo and he is openly encouraged to ask questions.

Using feminism as my guide I am daily teaching him that all bodies matter and that he does not exist with the right to exploit another simply because he was born with a penis.  Being a feminist parent takes a real commitment because many around you will endeavour to undo your hard work.  The education system continually presents essentialized gender lessons, privileging males over females. Other parents will use sexist language unthinkingly around your child. Many cartoons and children shows constantly show boys succeeding, and  achieving, while  little girls are presented either nursing dolls, or performing domestic labour. 

Teaching a little boy about privilege is an extremely loving act because it says as mother that I value him for who he is as a person, and not what his physical self embodies.  It further opens him to a world of possibilities that would otherwise have been closed to him.  Destruction is well rounded, he loves to watch hockey but can be found in the kitchen when it is time to cook a meal. From gardening to soccer there is no activity that he is limited from attempting because of his gender, thus allowing him to be a more well rounded person.  If life is about the experiences that we have and the people that we share with, Destruction is off to a good start because gender will never be a factor in his decision making process.  He will or will not attempt something based on the merits of the act and not whether it is for boys or girls.


11 comments:

sardonic sister said...

you sound like a really great mother. i worry that when/if i have kids that i will be able to instill the values in them that took me a looooong hard road to learn. i admire you!

Ouyang Dan said...

Renee, this post touches my heart in a way I can not explain fully. I too use feminism as a guide for raising my child (I have a girl, but the lessons are the same). We use reason and logic and open discussion where others are sure that spanking and gender norms are the way to go. It's difficult, b/c her father uses different strategy, and his girlfriend is what I would call a colluder, so when The Kid returns we always have a lot of talking to do. Our dinner table discussions are probably similar to yours. Thank you for sharing this. You should already know how much you have my admiration and appreciation.

professorwhatif said...

Great post, Renee. Being a feminist parent is certainly challenging in our world (I posted on this a while back) but, it is in fact the non-abusive way to parent. Contrary to what Meadster indicates, raising boys to perpetuate patriarchy et al is the REAL abusive parenting.

Summer said...

Wonderful post! With sons of my own this really resonated with me. Thank you for writing it.

Daisy said...

I am disappointed I wasn't MORE feminist with my daughter, actually. I still found myself telling her politically backward things, such as not to gain weight, because you know, I knew how rough that could be...I would become afraid when she didn't fit in, like I'd passed the weird-girl cooties on to her. (I never had a boy, so never learned how to raise a son by feminist principles.)

Feminist parenting involves very high ethical standards, teaching children to find their own voices. It's radical and for that reason, scares people like this Meadster.

outcrazyophelia said...

What an awful person--maybe if his parents had taught him the lessons you've given your kids, he wouldn't be such a shit.

Your post gives me a lot of hope for any potential parenting I may do.

Jenn said...

You're a wonderful mother, truly. I hope to be the light in my child's life like you are in yours instead of the self-hatred that my parents taught me.

Sandalstraps said...

Amen!

White Trash Academic said...

Wow. I will take this post and share it with all of my wonderful female friends as an example of how to raise boys as feminist allies.

Guy Vestal said...

Bravo! Attacking one's family instead of taking on the actual combatant themselves is nothing more than backdoor Ad Hominem...

I myself spoke up sharply when Obama's lackeys went after Sarah Palin's daughter, and her children. They didn't have the courage to address Sarah Palin face to face on the issues?

blue milk said...

Meadster - feminism isn't about hating men in spite of your best efforts at being a target worthy of hatred.