Friday, August 30, 2013

Gender Equality. Period.

As the proud mama of three amazing boys, you might wonder what I have to say on the subject of Gender Equality.  You might think "but she has boys, what does she have to worry about", your assumption being that we only need to worry about gender equality for girls.

Your assumption being incorrect.

As the proud mama of three amazing boys who will one day go forth into the world (and obviously as a woman) I have some pretty strong opinions regarding gender equality.  I have some pretty strong opinions on how men should treat women (and on how women should expect to be treated).  I have some pretty strong opinions on how women should treat men (and how men should expect to be treated... it's a two way street people!). 

This post was originally prompted by a discussion with TT about nail polish.  See the thing is, my boys love to have their nails painted (toes fingers... all in a wide array of rainbow colours)  Since I see nothing wrong with fostering a love for beautiful things, I paint their fingers and toes when they ask.  It makes them happy & I'm happy seeing them happy.  Pretty simple logic, right? 

Apparently, it is not so simple.  Or logical?  I get stopped by people when I'm out running errands, people who don't know me or my children and they comment.  I try not to let it bother me too much, I mean really I don't know them and I don't really care about what they think about my parenting. 

I was happily cruising along in my bubble of 'whoddafuckcares' when one day, my cousins offered to paint TT nails and he told them no.  He's never said no, so they asked why.  And he told them "because the girls at school told me that nail polish is just for girls." 

I'll be honest, out of everything I expected to hear.  That.wasn't.it.  I thought if anyone had remarked on it, that it would have been a boy.  But no, the very people that we are trying to empower to break out of typical gender roles are the people who are pigeon holing my sons into their narrowly defined gender roles.  I'll admit, I was pissed.  I know that these kids are just 4, 5 & 6 years old.  I get that, I get that these girls were just modeling behaviour & language that they have been shown is acceptable. 

I get that. 

However, just because I get it doesn't mean I need to accept it. 

So, this is me saying Gender Equality Goes BOTH Ways!

Let's raise our girls to know that they can be anything and do anything!  Let's raise our girls to know that their self-worth is not defined by their body or what they can do for someone; their self-worth is immeasurable because it is priceless!  Let's raise our girls to be good women, strong women, caring women!  Let's raise our girls to demand the respect that they deserve and to give respect where it is deserved!  Let's raise our girls to not be afraid to say no!  Let's raise our girls to know that you don't need to break someone down to build yourself up; that you're awesome just as.you.are!

Let's raise our boys to know that they can be anything and do anything!  Let's raise our boys to know that their self-worth is not defined by what they control; that their best assets are not how they flex their muscles (figurative or real)!  Let's raise our boys to be good men, strong men, caring men!  Let's raise our boys to demand the respect that they deserve and to give respect where it is deserved!  Let's raise our boys to not be afraid to say no, and to also understand that no means no!  Let's raise our boys to know that real men do not need to use their power and privilege to humiliate; they do not need to hurt other people  to prove their worth!

This started from something so simple, someone shaming my children for something they find joy in.
I came across this image and it spoke to me (yes, it is geared towards Girl Empowerment but I believe the sentiment is clear)

Image used with consent from www.grrrlcamp.org

So please, remember that while we are building our girls up that we aren't tearing our boys down.  Gender equality does indeed go both way and colour knows no gender.