I read somewhere that Gloria Steinem once said, "I’m glad we’ve begun to raise our daughters more like our sons, but it will never work until we raise our sons more like our daughters."
That’s a truth bomb right there.
I never thought I’d be a mother to sons.
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I grew up with one sister, and went to an all-girls high school, so for some reason I assumed that my body would produce daughters, because that was the world I knew.
I planned to raise my imagined daughters to be feminist women, who were empowered, strong, body positive, and totally fierce. I wanted to raise daughters who knew their worth and asked others to recognise it too.
But I didn’t have daughters. I had sons. And this has meant that I need to raise my sons more like I would’ve raised daughters.
This is becoming particularly evident as my boys (aged two and seven) get older. My seven-year-old is a sponge for the world right now, he sucks up the things people say and the way they say it. Which is terrifying because we still live in a fundamentally misogynistic and patriarchal culture.
I used to think that my children would become feminists, and kind, compassionate people by osmosis. I’m a feminist, so is their Dad, and we are compassionate and empathetic humans, so I thought raising my sons in this environment would be enough to ignite those values and qualities within them.
I was wrong. We have realised we have to consciously raise them to be feminists in this pervasively patriarchal society. I don’t want them to suck in the patriarchy and become part of this system, because I know that they want the same opportunities and supports for their female and non-binary friends, and family, including their mother. I also know this patriarchal structure affects them too, prescribing a particular kind of masculinity as 'real', and I want to support them to challenge that as well.