Wednesday, May 03, 2017

on raising young feminists

Feminism is so popular these days. Some fear it has become diluted and used as a marketing tactic to the point of losing its meaning (#femvertising, anyone?).

The other day I had a conversation with a friend of mine about the recent Girl Power movement. "Girl Power, girls on the run!" she exclaimed, "...we're going to end up raising a generation of little bitches." She went on to describe her experience working with some school kids, in which a couple of girls were bossing some boys around and they meekly obeyed. This was, apparently, evidence that the next generation of men is doomed to be compliant to the dominating bitches who have had a little too much girl power for their own good.

Obviously, I take issue with this view. For one thing, my own daughter is in Girls On the Run and is having an excellent experience. It has not turned her into a bossy, dominating know-it-all. Instead, she's having a fantastic time running with her friends and we'll all be doing a 5K together next month.  For another, one should never take a single experience and use it to generalize all of society. (I believe this is called anecdotal evidence.) Sometimes girls are bossy and dominating. Sometimes they are not. I don't think we can blame modern feminism for immaturity in a third grade class.

Also, this friend of mine has several grown children, some of them married (and even divorced) already, and I find that more often than not, the people who bemoan the kids of today are already done raising their own and thus consider themselves exempt from blame for whatever is going wrong with the current generation. It's exasperating, especially for someone like me who is at this very moment raising kids and trying to do it right. I remember being a teenager and hearing how my generation was doomed. It was insulting.

She did have a point about one thing, though. We shouldn't celebrate "girl power" for its own sake. We need to think about what that means. I once saw a youtube video of a 10yo girl singing Roar by Katy Perry, and the storyline of her video was of herself literally beating up a whole bunch of boys in a karate competition. She sang well, but it missed the point. Punching the lights out of the men in your life might seem satisfying in a music video, but it isn't the same as advocating for equal pay and rights and learning to advocate for yourself. We can't pull ourselves up by demeaning men and boys. We need them on board with us.

I've got a son and a daughter and I'm raising them both to be feminists. It's important for them both to understand why these issues are important for all of us.


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