P returns to Boshemia with her feminist parenting column, Raising a Feminist.
It’s a frosty winter’s day, and I’ve just finished class. When I arrive at my daughter’s preschool, Rye comes bustling up to me to tell me about how their class talked about Santa Claus that day. (Her preschool is in full holiday mode.) She cannot wait to tell me that she has a list of things that she wants for Christmas. At the top of her list is a Ninja Turtle Toy and a Doc McStuffins doll. Now this may seem insignificant to nonparents, but my Feminist heart is smiling, because the little ways that I ease Feminism into every day play and learning are taking root. This sweet little girl, not only has already figured out that gendered toys are bogus, and that ambitious women of colour rock. It didn’t take much to get her to this point, just consistency, and a relaxed at home curriculum that encourages Feminist values, ambition and education.
So what does it take to instill these things in your kids? It honestly is very simple. The principal elements are being committed to a set of values that dismantle patriarchal enforcements, dispel gender constructs, and encourage learning in all forms. You may be thinking that those goals don’t sound so simple to introduce. They are such large concepts; how could it be simple to incorporate them into the daily life and playtime of young children? It is, I promise! It starts with simple verbiage and attitudes toward gendered activities. Much in the same way that our dear departed, Carrie Fisher, raised her daughter Billie without gender, I am doing the same with Ryenne. This doesn’t mean that I discourage her from being feminine, but it does mean that I encourage her to be herself. I put very little focus on gender when it comes to the activities in which she chooses to partake. I praise her girlhood, and I laud other strong women, but I do not ever place any expectation on her to be girly in a specific way. I explain to her, in simple terms, the idea that there is no singular way to be a woman, that she can be whoever she wants to be as long as she is kind, respectful, and empathetic. I provide and example for her by encapsulating this idea myself in the way that I make an honest effort to be the truest version of myself at all times. When our children our able to see all of the many facets which make us who we are as women, they learn to develop personalities and dreams of their own which follow this model.