As the mother of a daughter, I find myself paying closer attention than I ever have before to the discussions of feminism and the rights and roles of women in our country. In a just world women and men would be treated equally and afforded equal opportunities throughout their lives. Despite opinions to the contrary, this simply isn’t true.
It would seem that there are people out there who feel that by leaving the workforce to raise my daughter, that I am personally undermining feminism. Weird. Honestly, what it came down to was that economically, practically, and temperamentally, I was better suited to staying home with her than my husband was. I was, and always will be a feminist, and my ability and choice to stay with my daughter does not undermine that.
It’s interesting to me though, that my choice was so influenced by things that happened long before I had any say in my life at all. Part of it, of course, stems from the nutritional advantage of breast milk and the practical benefit of simply being present to nurse, but so much more of it stem from things that are actually part of the very system that feminism is fighting.
Men earn more than women. Even when you account for time spent on the job and education and overall competence. When more women move into a particular field, the wages actually steadily decrease. Meaning that if a field of work is considered women’s work, that it will be socially and economically marginalized.
Women are socialized differently than men throughout our lifetimes. Boys are encouraged to be aggressive, assertive and show leadership. Girls are encouraged to cooperate, play nicely, and share.
By around age two mothers use almost three times as much number related language with boys than they do with girls. Boys are given balls, and cars, and nerf guns, and legos. Girls are give dolls and ponies and toy kitchens. Is it any wonder that we see boys out performing girls in math and science by the end of their middle school years?
So, what does it mean, to me, to be a Feminist Mommy to a toddler daughter? It means that we talk about math. It means that we encourage competition. It means that we play with cars and throw balls and build towers. It means that we talk about numbers. It means that when people tell me that she has beautiful hair, I tell them that she’s also really smart and that I think smart is more important.
It means that I systematically, and intentionally, teach her both sets of skills peacemaker and leader, language and math. It means that when I vote, I do so keeping not only my own desires for our world in mind, but also my daughters future. It means that I speak up when people reinforce stereotypes about women and about men. It means that I don’t tolerate rape culture. It means that I pay attention to the dynamic between my husband and I, and make sure that the example that we’re setting is one of equality and love.
I am Feminist Mommy. I am raising a woman who will know her worth and will not be afraid to delight in the feminine or the masculine and will know the difference between those and the simply human. With any luck, I’m raising a feminist.