Once upon a time I struggled to call myself a feminist. I found the term held a derogatory meaning for me. I know I know, it probably shouldn't be said. For any feminists reading this, hold out, I am not finished yet. However, we all know the stereotypes that come with the feminist label. I didn't want to be linked with that. Whilst I believed in a lot of what I felt was at the core of feminism, I didn't want to be part of those stereotypes. I remember a friend pointing out how I would often say ''I am not a feminist but...'. Nowadays, I look back at that line I often spouted and I find it ridiculous.
I am a feminist. I think like many 'beliefs', it is what you make it. Hard-lined feminists would likely balk at me liking it when a man opens a door for me. Yes I can do it myself, but what's wrong with a little gentlemanly behaviour in this day and age?! I am aware that I often generalise about certain behaviours that I relate specifically to both men and women. I'm sure that and many other beliefs I have go against what many count as modern feminism, but I still consider myself one. Maybe I'm a kind of agnostic feminist?! Either way, I've realised lately that being a mum of boys can be a pretty good way to help the upcoming generations of women.
Mothers of girls of course need to impart knowledge on their daughters. Teach them about self-worth. About protecting themselves physically and emotionally and teaching them to stand up for themselves in those ways too. It's a tough and complicated job of a mother of girls and there is alot in society that will battle against those lessons you try and impart on your daughters. For us mums of boys though, surely we can try our best to help the daughters of the world too. We can do this by teaching our own sons a little about feminism. Or a lot for that matter.
There is much we can teach our boys about women. We can teach our boys about respecting women. How to talk to them and more importantly, how not to talk to them. How to treat women and beyond.
One of the large scale issues women are facing around the world right now are attacks by men. Not only are women and young girls attacked and often raped, they are then blamed (or it is at least implied) for the attacks. It's being highly publicised in a number of countries right now and it's happening on our doorsteps too. It's important to teach girls to not get so drunk that they can't take any responsibility for themselves, without a doubt. Even more importantly, I think, we need to be teaching our boys that however drunk they are, or a girl is, it doesn't give them the right to take advantage of the situation.
We need to teach boys to respect girls and women and we need to start teaching that at an early age and continue those lessons as they grow. I could go on and on about this subject, but I feel I am a little inadequate and inelequent to go in to the detail needed. There are two videos that I've watched lately that can hit the point home better than I ever could. The first is from a brilliant satirical campaign from an Indian actress Kalki Koechlin. If you haven't watched it already, you really should. I warn you, this is both inspiring and incredibly tough to watch. It had me in tears. The second is from an interview with Patrick Stewart, speaking about his own experiences of domestic violence at home against his mother. I saw this shared from the brilliant site Upworthy.
If you do have a moment, watch the videos. Fellow mums of boys, it's just as up to us to teach our boys about respect and empowerment of women as it is the mums of girls.
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