Raising a Feminist Boy

As a teacher, I don’t often mention my job on this blog as I prefer to keep that part of my life private and professional; however, one thing I will say is that my students are an inspiration.  Every time I fear for the future of humanity (which is basically every day), I think of them and I remind myself that there are fantastic young people out there with the drive and the idealism and the work ethic to change the world.

However, there are also a lot of scary people out there.

One of these people was brought to my attention today by some of my students, who were appalled that such a person existed.  This particular person is a man who has been in the news recently for the laughable yet frightening reason of wanting to legalise rape.

Yes peeps, apparently there are people out there who want rape to be legal, but fear not ladies, for it will only be legal on private property!  Ladies and gentlemen, the sage has spoken, and there will be no raping in the streets (unless, presumably, they are private roads.  Never trust a “private road.”)  The result of this radical new rule will, naturally, be the return of modesty and decent upstanding morals for us women, who will dare not bare a dewy ankle or a graceful neck in public, and will uphold the very highest standards of pearl-clutching frailty at all times, whilst being chaperoned around by our male guardians (I’m not clear exactly who these will be, as apparently all men want to ravish us at every opportunity).  The result for men will presumably be an average Friday night spent rampaging around the streets like the brutes that they are, trying to find an exposed shoulder to pounce on and drag back to “private property” in order to satisfy that base male desire for violent, non-consensual sex.  Because that’s how little we think of men, right?  That they are uncontrollable beasts who enjoy violating women simply because they had the audacity to wear a skirt?

Now obviously this is ridiculous, but it is clearly a fact that there are people out there who are mad, bad and dangerous to know, and not in a romantic, Byron-esque way.  And it is also a fact that people who appear to exist on the angry fringes of society spouting spurious twaddle can, within a frighteningly short space of time, move to centre stage and wield real power, if the timing and conditions happen to align fatefully to create a disenfranchised group willing to listen to their message (hello Hitler).

And it is when I hear of this kind of violent misogyny which some-albeit very few-people seem to find acceptable, that I know that my mission is to raise a Feminist Boy.

Well, in fact that isn’t quite true.  I don’t need a wannabe sex offender to remind me of the need to raise a Feminist Boy.  I feel it every second of every day.

I need to challenge every stereotype he is presented with, no matter how inoffensive it may seem to others, for sexism is not always shouted from the rooftops by a nutter with an almighty chip on his (or her) shoulder, or a bouffant haired demagogue (mentioning no names); it is ingrained, it is subconscious and it is something that we are all unintentionally guilty of.

It’s the Hello Kitty book full of pink cupcakes which poor Kitty can’t eat, as she has no mouth (surely a metaphor for the desirable woman to be one who is mute).  It’s the endless stereotyping of children’s clothes into blue vs. pink, cars vs. butterflies.  It’s the toys we see in shops that divide our children into their pre-assigned gender roles as mother or superhero, and it is bad for all of us.  It turns fathers into an inept joke, and mothers into put-upon harridans; women into ornaments and men into predators.

I want to scoop my son into my arms and protect him from all of this, let him be what he wants to be, but let him see that an equal world would be a fairer world, not just for women, but for him too.

The question is, how do I do it?  No man is an island (or as I prefer to rephrase this, no person is an island), and I cannot protect and shield him from all that the world will throw at him.  I just have to hope that he learns from example, and that I am strong enough to be that example.

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45 Comments Add yours

  1. Great post, and so well written. I really do wonder about people sometimes! #FabFridayPost

    1. Min says:

      Thank you. Yes, some people really are bizarre in their views!

  2. Lovely post, very thought provoking! It’s scary how some people think that way… makes me more worried now bringing up a child, because no matter how we protect them, they will be bound to be exposed to these type of people as they grow. #mg

    1. Min says:

      Yes, that’s the scary thing. I guess we just have to bring them up the best we can and trust that they will be sensible. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Good grief, what an awful person, I haven’t heard about that crazy idea! Really interesting piece, thanks – very thought provoking. I think it can be easy to fall into the trap of gender stereotypes as they are so prevalent. But I’ll be thinking more about it. Thanks for sharing on #KCACOLS Becky x

    1. Min says:

      They are, and sometimes I think maybe I over-think things. My mother thinks my views on Hello Kitty are absurd. The guy actually ended up having to cancel his events because people were getting so mad at him over his views, which I guess shows he’s not terribly popular!

  4. Sometimes it is a scary world indeed!I am willing to bet that you are are strong enough to raise your beautiful boy to be all those qualities that you recognise in your students, because I am thinking you have them yourself. Another great post xx

    1. Min says:

      Thank you, that’s such a lovely comment! If he grows up to be as fab as my students, then I will be lucky and will be able to consider I’ve done a good job. Fingers crossed! x

  5. ERFmama says:

    I had absolutely no idea such a thing was going on – and it’s terrifying. As a victim of sexual assault I’m not sure what to say really I’m a bit..flabbergasted that such a thing has even been allowed to be “heard”..
    As for the stereotypical we don’t do that in this house – in my house my smallest boy wears a dress for dressup if he wants to, he has a bow in his hair if he wants it and he plays with dolls and breast feeds his baby… and so forth. And my daughter plays with cars, she loves Power Rangers, she loves Dinosaurs, she wears green,blue,boats and so forth… I absolutely despise stereotypical and I think it’s one of the most damaging things we have created.

    1. Min says:

      Totally agree. Regarding those horrible views being aired, and being allowed to be heard, I guess it’s like someone going around advocating murder, isn’t it? Completely abhorrent.

  6. Oh Dear I can’t believe someone would like that!! How awful and disgusting is this!! I completely agree with you. I also would like my girls to be able to choose what toys they want to play with and clothes they want to wear. As long as they are happy it is fine with me. My eldest daughter is half a toy boy and half a girly girl. So she likes both sides and she is happy being like that so I let her. If she wants to play with trucks and trains it is absolutely fine with me and also it is fine is she wants to wear make up. I think we should let our kids be what they want and it is true that the society has a big influence too but if we are strong we could make a difference. I’m sure you will raise your baby in that way. Just be strong. Thanks lovely for sharing this at #KCACOLS. I would love to see you again on Sunday! 🙂 x
    PS: what a cute boy you have!! 😉

    1. Min says:

      Thank you! I agree, we should definitely let them be what they want. Thank you for commenting and hosting. x

  7. Yvonne says:

    Wow, just wow. I had not heard of this and I am speechless that such people exist, yet somehow not surprised. Great post. As for the boys vs girls toys/clothes debate, I have two boys who have a ton of cars but their favourite thing to play with is the toy kitchen. One boy has long hair and has been known to come home from nursery wearing bunches, which he LOVES! Thanks for sharing with #fartglitter. xxx

    1. Min says:

      Yay! I might have to put Piglet’s hair in bunches when there’s a bit more of it! x

  8. Wow I can’t believe how ridiculous some people are, legalise rape! hahaha Can you imagine? I completely agree with you on raising a feminist boy, I’m on board and rearing to go, he’s only 2 months old though haha. I always wanted my husband to take my last name instead of me taking his (the start of a revolution!)…maybe my son will do this for his wife?! ; ) #fartglitter

    1. Min says:

      That’s a great idea. I think more people should do that. Thanks for commenting! X

  9. Ellen says:

    Love this, I am also embarking on the journey to try and raise a feminist boy! Hate how gendered everything is right from birth; luckily we didn’t know what we were having so have loads of neutral clothes so he doesn’t have to wear blue all the time! I bought him a baby doll straight away too.

    1. Min says:

      If I have another one I will try not to tell other people the gender, even if I know myself, as it just encourages people to buy gender-specific stuff. That said, it’s quite difficult to buy things that are not gender-specific a lot of the time. Thanks for commenting.

  10. A really interesting post and one which I agree with quite strongly. Stereotyping is complete nonsense and causes a lot of damage one way or another. Having 3 girls and a boy I feel it is boys particularly who suffer from gender stereotyping as in my experience it seems to be more socially acceptable for girls to play with a tool set for example, than a boy playing with a dolls pram. It seems as bad now as when I was a child which is ridiculous! Times don’t seem to have moved on at all. All I hope is that our children can be and do what they want without being ostrasised or have social pressures forced upon them. And as for the rape nonsense…. #KCACOLS

    1. Min says:

      Yes, in some ways it seems to be worse now than it was when we were kids, and you’re right it is more limiting for boys in terms of what they are expected to play with (or not play with). Thanks for commenting.

  11. This makes me so mad! But I won’t go there! My son (having 2 older sisters and a mother that takes no crap) will have no choice but to be exposed to all things traditionally girly. My oldest daughter is not girly nor a tomboy, she plays with both sexes equally, her fav colour is green (she doesn’t like pink) and she grew up watching Thomas the tank. Yet she also plays Barbie dolls! My 2nd daughter runs like a fairy, loves all things pink and plays with girls. My son is only 6, he plays at school with both boys and girls, he gravitates towards wanting traditional boy toys, he pretends sticks are guns and wants to tackle everybody, he did this as soon as he could walk and with no example! My husband cooks dinner, does dishes and doesn’t watch football. So I hope they ill all grow up well balanced! I think all we can do is be strong role models, talk respectfully of men and women and lead by example. Thanks for sharing with #mg

    1. Min says:

      Yes I think all we can do is lead by example. Thanks for hosting and commenting! x

  12. I can associate with this. I have been criticised for raising my son to be too gentle and too soft. A Little Softy. When he plays with his friends – as boy play just a little hard – my boy whale out all tears streaming down. It is not his fault. I have raised him to become the way he is a gentle a feminist boy. But I think I would rather raised him to love than to hurt. Great post and very well written. Thank you for linking up again #FabFridayPost

    1. Min says:

      I agree, definitely better to love than to hurt. And thanks for featuring me on the linky this week! x

  13. Fab post, it’s so hard to battle against stereotypes, my eldest is not too bad but my 5 yr old daughter is so girly and susceptible to all the advertising, if I suggest something she says, ‘ that’s not what girls do/wear,’ I think it’s harder with girls. I try to place more emphasis on being clever and achievements rather than looks. Thanks for linking up to #showandtell xx

    1. Min says:

      It’s so difficult isn’t it-society is everywhere telling them they should be a certain way. x

  14. Nicola says:

    Ive never heard the term feminist boy, but I love it! Makes me feel better about buying Baby Lighty the Fisher Price tea set, even if everyone’s telling me not to because it’s pink and purple…

    1. Min says:

      A feminist is just someone who believes in gender equality, so anyone can be feminist. I say buy the tea set!

  15. Wow, the wonders and nutters never cease. We try to avoid gender stereotypes with our lad but it’s a tough one. Someone commented on the fact that he was drinking from a pink bottle the other day. I reduced my ‘And? What part of a pink bottle requires a vagina to use?’ to a ‘yes, he is.’


    1. Min says:

      Oh my goodness. It’s just ridiculous! Thanks for commenting.

  16. MMT says:

    Look at Piglet he’s gorgeous! Sorry…side tracked…

    I admire your view and good on you for speaking out about gender stereotyping and (shock horror) boys wearing pink. I can’t tell you how many times we were asked if Tigs was a boy – in her mainly Green and blue clothes. She has sadly, created her own affinity towards all things pink and princessy, which is hard not to encourage (well, when they love stuff, you have to right?).

    I shuddered every time I asked her what she’d like to be when she grows up and she replied – “a princess”, but yesterday for the first time she replied “a doctor”. As I smiled, I had to remind myself she’s only 3!

    Of course, these kids are their own people and part of me thinks aside from gently teaching them right from wrong, they’ll find their own way…
    Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub

    1. Min says:

      They will find their own way. Unfortunately at the moment, Piglet’s own way consists of him throwing a toy JCB at me (as you can see, no gender stereotypical toys here…) and then laughing heartily when it hits me in the eye. I am definitely hoping that current behaviour isn’t indicative of future life choices! Have a lovely weekend. x

  17. swapna says:

    This is interesting! I let my little boy watch peppa pig and last week I picked up a pink pool noodle because there wasnt any other color left- I’m slowly getting there !

    Would love to see your posts in the Practical Mondays Link Up:)

    1. Min says:

      Ooh is that your linky? Will check it out! Thanks for commenting.

  18. KidGearUK says:

    There are some really scary people in this world.

    We don’t do stereotypes either. I have two boys. My eldest loves role play…toy washing machines, hoovers and hairdressing sets are some of his favourite things. It infuriates me that toy manufacturers make these things pink and label them as being for girls. I don’t want him to feel he can’t play with what he wants to. Though they both tell me their favourite colour is pink so thankfully it hasn’t put them off yet. My youngest boy loves My Little Pony just as much as he loves superheroes. He’s currently tucked in bed cuddling a pink My Little Pony toy that’s almost as big as he is! They’re just toys and children should be able to choose the ones they like.

    1. Min says:

      Aww that’s so cute! So far Piglet is only interested in cars and things with wheels. I tried to interest him in a toy pushchair complete with baby doll last week at toddler group but he picked up the doll, threw it out of the pushchair and then just started pushing the empty pushchair around-a bit like he does with his own buggy.

  19. Fantastic post! ! But ugh, the reason for writing it… *shakes head* ludicrous and awful.

    1. Min says:

      Thank you! Yes, it is ridiculous, isn’t it?

  20. John Adams says:

    Legalise rape on private property. Well that’s a new one. What a dreadful idea. I did enjoy this post and the crucial part for me was at the end where you say; “but let him see that an equal world would be a fairer world, not just for women, but for him too.”

    I’m going to risk getting myself in trouble by saying I always feel uneasy when I read about people saying they want to raise “feminist sons”. It is a phrase you see a lot and it is quite understandable. Boys, however, need to be raised to look after themselves as well. Believe it or not, 30% of all sexual assaults are against men and the biggest killer of men under 45 is suicide with 75% of all suicide victims being male.

    I only have daughters and being a stay at home dad with daughters gives me a slightly odd perspective. I find myself battling for women’s rights as well as men’s! I am waging my own battle (with varying degrees of success) against the pink / blue thing. My wife and I are certainly raising them without limits “want to be an astronaut? / vet? / fighter pilot?….you do yo’ thang baby”. They are being raised to see men and women as equals and to respect all as it is about making a world for everyone.

    1. Min says:

      Thanks for commenting. And that is a good point about men being sexually assaulted too-people definitely need to be aware of that as a lot of people assume that almost all sexual assaults are against women, and this obviously isn’t true. I was aware of the suicide statistic, and I think more needs to be done to look at the reasons for why this is. There seems to be this stereotype that it’s because women talk about their problems and men don’t, but a) the issue is surely far more complex than that, and b) I can’t help but think that this is also a form of sexism; that men clearly feel under pressure to be a certain way as well, and to me feminism is about striving for equality for men just as much as for women.

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