Recently I’ve met this self-driven, beautiful and successful women, a real girl boss, and while talking to her, she said lowering her voice that she is a feminist. And then she looked around to see if anyone listened. I just smiled and said that she doesn’t need to worry about words around me, because I consider myself as a feminist, and I hope to raise my girls to be feminists too. And I realized, that even if a boss lady from a big city is afraid to use this world, then there’s still so much work to be done.
What does it mean to be or not a feminist, is still a huge discussion. Lots of educated self-driven woman will say they’re not, they’re just strong and believe in right for education and equal pay. Many stay at home mom’s that I know will openly say that they are feminists. Many feminists will say that a woman who doesn’t work isn’t really a feminist, and many SAHM’s will see feminists as arrogant and self centered people.
Recently Emma Watson, a young, self-driven actress and a voice of modern feminism, was criticized for doing a photo shoot that showed her breasts a bit more then she usually does. And she was accused of not being a feminist.. by feminists.. And it just showed how much misconceptions there are out there.
But in the end, aren’t all self-driven women who believe in freedom of choice feminists? Be it engineer, a stay-at-home-mom, or both . If all of them believe girls should have access to education and health services, then I think they are all feminist. So why be scared of this word?
People have these ideas about what a women should be, how should she act and look. And as a mom of two girls, who’ll become woman all too soon, I want them to know that in these discussions, what’s really important is the attitude, that freedom that you give yourself and others. Not an etiquette.
I hope to raise girls who won’t have these misconceptions about other women. About how a woman should look, act and talk in order to be seen as a good / intelligent / feminine / good mother / well raised / feminist enough / liberated / modest enough etc. Who won’t really care about all these etiquette’s and labels. Who won’t listen to others saying what they can and can’t do, but who’ll listen to their own inner voice. I hope to be raising self-driven girls.
I hope they’ll only follow a social code for being kind and open minded people. That they’ll decide for themselves how they should live their life. That they won’t be afraid of a word feminism. Nor strength nor motherhood nor femininity. I hope they’ll grow in to women who won’t judge other woman for being too much: too loud, too opinionated, too timid, too modest, too sexy, too carrier driven, too mommy-like. That they won’t say other woman are not enough: not enough of a feminist, not enough of a mother, not enough of a lady, not enough of a professional. Women who won’t put a tag on other women. Nor on themselves.
So how do I make sure that my daughters will grow in to self driven, non-judgmental kind and open women? Well, of course time will only show if I succeeded, but for now, here’s what I do:
- I want them to choose for themselves. Be it putting their food on their plate, choosing their clothes, or crafts ideas, as long as it makes sense and isn’t in conflict with their safety or health, I want them to learn to take their own decisions. Girls who make their own decisions from young age are less likely to believe that that they need to fit in the stereotype in order to have friends or be beach ready. They are also more likely to choose a carer path ( or a motherhood route) in tune with their true feelings and dreams.
- I encourage them to (politely) argument why they want or don’t wan’t something. I think that often we tend to teach girls to be polite first and to say what they wan’t second, while we teach boys to stand for themselves first and be polite second. Well I think that kids need both, and that girls need more then ever to stand for themselves and say what they want. Because if ever they choose to be a working professional, nobody will give them a raise just because they waited politely for it to happen.
- I try to teach them the difference between an opinion and a judgment. Which means it’s fine to say at home what they like and dislike, but it’s not fine to say that other’s likes and dislikes are stupid or silly. ( Let’s say that this one is a starting point to many sisterly disputes around the table, and that we’are still working on it!).
- I try to talk to them about people around us, and their life choices in a way that they can see the ocean of possibilities rather then good and bad paths to follow. I have friends who are working full time and raising kids, I have friends who are full time stay at home moms, I have friends who don’t have kids, and who travel and live alone. Some are vegetarian and some dress in a different way. Some have tattoos and some are a part of a bible study. When we talk about other people I try to always let them know that all choices are good, as long as they come from the heart.
- I try to explain to them how everyone has their own perspective, and how we should always think abut how things look from a different point of view. Books and movies are always a great starting point. Imaginative play is another. I’d ask them how would you feel now if you where ( insert : your sister, or cat, your grandma, me, etc..) this exercise may be too difficult for a toddler, but my five year old got pretty good in it.
- Get dad involved. Girls who see men tackling house duties are more likely to believe that anyone can do anything.
- I let my girls help around, both in the kitchen as with tools ( as much as they can in their age). I hope they’ll be able to see which type of work they prefer ( and if both, then good for them!)
- I talk to them about publicity in the media and social stereotypes ( still very present in mainstream TV), even if they are really young. I’d say: look, this is someone who’s trying to sell us something ( and then we’d guess what is it). This isn’t real life. This may not be as good of a product as they say. I want them to be very judgmental when it comes to publicity, as this is where a lot of social messages are hidden, especially regarding how women should look and dress.
- Whatever you do, tell your story to your kids, let them know why you choose to stay at home with them or work, or do both. Read them stories of other women and their different life choices. ( Great book that I’m recently in love in, is: “Bedtime stories for rebel girls” , not that rebellious after all, but very touching with 100 stories of women throughout the history, following their path and their dreams often against all the odds).
- And above all, I try to acknowledge their emotions, because I believe that only by letting them express their feelings, and experience kindness and compaction, they’ll learn how to be kind and compassionate themselves. (Within healthy boundaries and limits off-course!).
So for me raising self-driven girls, means raising girls who are kind and strong, sure of what they want and not afraid of social tags. Girls who don’t look at people from above, and who don’t care about stereotypes. Girls who follow their dreams. And who encourage others. Who are feminists. Now, wish me luck in making that happen!