I didn’t go to Blogfest, I don’t know what was said. I do know friends whom I love dearly were upset and made to feel unworthy, which makes me very cross.
So having written and pondered and re written and deleted my thoughts not to publish them but to clear my head and organise my thoughts as I often do, I found this in my inbox last night, with a little note “Mumisckles, would you post this on your blog for me?” So in the words of my darling boy here’s to equality and choice! (written by someone brought up by a stay at home, uneducated mummy!)
Bare with me this isn’t going there.
Make a long list of the things you want your child to be : Doctor, lawyer, successful,
feminist, communist, philanthropist, witty, pretty, funny, clever, confident…..
Use that list for something useful like lighting the stove or keeping the books on that wobbly set of shelves. Hell it doesn’t have to be useful, cut it up and make paper snow, let the kids stick pasta and glitter to it doesn’t matter, it’s no good for anything else.
There are only two things you should strive to make your children and those two things are: happy and safe. – Really, don’t worry about burdening your children with labels, the world will torment them with those for the rest of their lives. You are the person whom they should trust never to label them, never to coerce them never to tell the who to be.
And when it comes to teaching them how to live their lives, don’t waste your time, if they want to believe what you believe they will. If the things you strive to teach them ring true in their hearts and are dedicated to their safety and happiness, then they will believe those things. If they don’t want to, they won’t. They’ll rebel, but that’s cool too as long as you have taught them to value the safety and happiness of others.
Teach them to love unconditionally, teach them the value of equality. They don’t need to be concerned about feminism or chauvinism, these states of mind are perpetrated by our continued reference to them, from both sides of the argument. If your children love unconditionally and strive for equality then they wont have any care for the positions of men or women in their lives. Race,gender,sexuality,religion and any number of other things will be irrelevant in the your child’s life if they understand the true meaning of equality.
If your daughter wants to choose a career then support her, If she wants to choose a family support them. If your son wants to spend the summer working as a nanny let him, why shouldn’t he (His rates are pretty good and he has a reasonably priced program of additional options including potty training, bicycle tuition and box fort construction). If your daughter wants desperately to be a nurse, don’t push her to be a doctor to prove she is better than any irrelevant concept of ‘stereotype’.
Love them, support them, discourage them any concept which limits their potential to live, love and learn in a manner which protects equality and happiness. By definition equality is the pursuit of balance, extreme points of view can only harm the cause of equality. The ardent and vitriolic defence of radical feminism does just as much to harm the cause of equality as does the moronic chauvinistic braying of any bunch of ‘lads’ in Zante ignoring the cradle of civilisation in favour of cheap cocktails and scantily clad women.
If your children learn love and compassion and the value of safety, live happy lives and learn self respect by your example everything else will fall into place. They won’t limit themselves with labels and they will strive to prevent others being limited by them.
In time if we raise a generation of children not burdened by labels or concerns about the differences between them Other concepts like feminism will become immaterial in their lives, true equality cannot be won through argument and fight, but through peaceful acceptance on the strengths and weakness of all those around and the way in which these can benefit us all.
The role of influential people through history who fought for what they believed in can never be underestimated, members of the suffrage movement, the civil rights movement, those people that died to establish the ANC, but we are not coming from such an extreme position any more huge changes are not required to redress the balance as was once the case, so simply by maintaining the concept of feminism we perpetrate the idea that it is necessary, feminism appears self defeating in this sense, it negates the value of true equality, by suggesting to girls and women that they must work to prove that they are as good as men.
Why don’t we just teach them that they are different, but that it is the source of their strength, everyone they meet in their lives will be different, no one will have the particular set of skills that they have, so if they are true to themselves and respect others they will succeed in living a life full of the only two things that matter, happiness and safety.
And as for being concerned with whether being a great mum is un-feminist, the very fact that anyone would even consider making an issue of that shows just how infinitely fallible the concept is. Do what makes you happy if that is making jam and wiping noses or selling cars or laying bricks or trading in the City do that, love it enjoy it and share it with your loved ones. To label ourselves in any way limits our potential for happiness. I found myself raging at the radio whilst listening to women’s hour and making chutney last Christmas, (Yes really.) ( Really really) and I was disgusted by the opinions that were being spouted on all sides of a debate about the role of men and women in various tasks like cooking or buying Christmas presents or something like that. All I could see was that all everyone involved were, through their petty argument and with many different opinions, actually all pulling in the same direction. Whether they were denouncing traditionalist views of gender roles in vitriolic protest or arguing that men should be forced into pinafores to redress some kind of balance or arguing that women were in.fact made to bake nurse and wrap presents. All concerned were simply maintaining this laughable myth ,that we should differentiate people on any predetermined set of stereotypes rather than each person on the basis of their personal set of traits. Biology dictates that certain identifiable groups of people are more likely to have different skills: People with certain genes have denser bones and cant swim as well. Others have high metabolic rates and eat cake and don’t get fat (they are called bastards) Some genes make us strong, some make us fast, some genes make us men or women. But these things are all matters of chance and there is very little that we cannot change if our brains will it hard enough.
So don’t set out to raise a feminist, don’t set out to raise anything other than a happy healthy child. Their opinion, their beliefs, their hair cuts, their careers, their partners and any other of a list of traits a mile young, are none of your concern. Love them, protect them, support them and encourage them. Teach them compassion and self respect do that and the rest will do its self. One day in the not too distant future you will realise you’ve raised a pretty damned good human being. That’s what really matters.
Splosh, your mummy loves you very much! The immense pride I feel at you and your sister is beyond words. Rule the world my babies – it will be far better off in your hands than in ours!