Raising My Boys To Resist The Patriarchy

 

 

Strong women, may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.

I am a strong woman. I was raised by a strong woman, and I would most definitely raise a strong woman. But I am not raising a woman. I am raising two men, and right now they are boys.

The world is ready to shape and influence them into the kind of men they will one day be. The patriarchy is waiting, and I’m doing my best to raise them to help tear it down.

When I met their dad, he had just come to San Francisco from a small town and a pretty conservative family. I was smack dab in the middle of a psychology degree, taking women’s studies and sexual diversity courses.

By our third date, we had discussed white privilege, male privilege, LGBTQ rights, and affirmative action—all of which were pretty progressive topics for him. But he was open-minded enough to listen and intrigued enough with me to keep the discussion going. (Or it was all the Ani DiFranco I played in my car with the Girls Kick Ass sticker on the bumper, seeping into his psyche.)

Either way, our worldviews aligned, and almost 20 years later here we are; raising two boys.

After two decades of marinating in conversations about the state of equality and progress, that same young man from a small town, who had not discussed race relations or feminism before we met, used his frequent flier miles to put me on a plane to D.C. to march for equal rights and civil liberties.

That same man who had never dated a feminist before me, sent me an email while I was away saying how much he appreciates me and my role in our family; and in his words, “I am amazing.”

That same man, who had not discussed wage inequality or male privilege before we met, took time off of work to be home with our boys — without batting an eye. He did not need instructions or pre-prepared meals, because he is a parent, not a babysitter. He is my partner, and he wanted me to march for our shared values; which are so much bigger than both of us.

That is us, chipping away at the patriarchy.

The Women’s March was sparked from widespread concern for misogyny running rampant in the Oval Office, but it quickly grew into a movement that spanned the gamut from civil liberties to climate change. A dominant focus of the march remained reproductive rights and the fight against our bodies being objectified, violated, or federally regulated.

I marched for all of those things, passionately. I soaked up the energy from the army of pink Pussyhats, and read the signs declaring:

Women’s Rights Are Equal Rights

Feminism is the Radical Notion That Women Are People

My Body, My Choice, My Country, My Voice

It was impossible not to feel a deep connection to all things female.

But it wasn’t just the x chromosomes coursing through my DNA that kept me marching onward. The two future-men and the one all-grown-up-one holding down the fort in the corner of the world we are building together fueled me forward. I was inspired by the awesome power of women, and our unifying desire for equality; but I also thought of my boys.

I’ve never felt a void by not having a daughter. I do, however, feel the enormous responsibility entrusted in me by my fellow women to raise boys who will resist the patriarchy. Now, more than ever, we need boys who will be the kind of men to fight against injustice, even when their privilege insulates them.

I’m raising my boys to grow up to be better men than the senators and politicians who so publicly reduced the women who marched to angry, tattooed, freeloaders, and short-order cooks.

I’m raising my boys to grow into the kind of men who shut down “locker room talk” instead of laughing along in complicity.

I’m raising my boys to know that women are their doctors, teachers, mothers, friends, politicians, policy makers, leaders; their equals.

I’m raising my boys to understand that our country is already strong because of its diversity and opportunity for all; not in spite of it.

I’m raising my boys with an awareness of privilege and an understanding that just because it is not a problem for you, does not mean it isn’t a problem.

I’m raising my boys to use their male privilege to speak up for what is right, instead of what is easy; so that one day, when they are welcomed into the patriarchy, they can chip away at it from the inside.

I saw my oldest son’s principal the other day and she said he told her he was proud of me for marching. That night when I tucked him in, he told me I was brave.

While our children will witness misogyny, racism, and inequity as they grow up, they are also watching us resist. They watched millions of us around the world march for women’s rights and equal opportunities for all. They see the mayors of sanctuary cities, state governors, world leaders, journalists, federal judges, and even National Park Rangers have the moral courage to speak out against unjustness.

The future is watching, and what we do matters.

I truly hope that in 2020 my ballot has a woman on it, but my heart aches with doubt. My country chose a man of severely questionable temperament, character, ideals, and experience over a woman who was arguably much more qualified to serve as our president.

Sadly, I’m not convinced that our country is ready to end the patriarchy just yet. Until we are, I will carry my own sign every day while I raise these boys of mine:

Strong Women, may we know them, may we be them, and may we raise men strong enough to march alongside them and fight the patriarchy with us.

This post was featured on The Hufington Post 

More Than A Snowflake

 

I am one of millions of American citizens unwilling to normalize the behavior of our President-elect and accept the views of his cabinet nominees as my new normal; at least not quietly.

According to his supporters, there is a word for people like me; snowflake.

The term has taken on many versions of the same meaning and traveled a circuitous route before finally landing among today’s political buzzwords. “Snowflake” is a pejorative for an entitled person. (Usually a liberal who takes issue with the actions, ideals, or tweets! of our President-elect.)

In November, when millions of voters were deeply disturbed that a man who ran a campaign on hostility, nationalism, xenophobia and misogyny was actually elected president, Kellyanne Conway used “snowflake” to describe Millennials who were upset about the election results.

“We are just treating these adolescents and Millennials like precious snowflakes.”

She also flippantly posed a question.

“What do these people actually fear?…What is the worst thing that happens, that Donald Trump will make good on his promise to create 25 million new jobs, unleash energy investment, get rid of Obamacare?”

This might be a leap, but a person with the luxury of casually posing such a patronizing ‘worst-case-scenario’ is an extremely entitled one. So, in an ironic twist, that must make Ms. Conway a precious snowflake too.

If she actually presented this hypothetical to any person of color, Muslim, member of the LGBTQ community, or woman, the answer would be a resounding, “NO!” Because obviously, that is not the worst thing that could happen.

The unprecedented public outcry, planned marches, and calls to action are because of real fear. Our fear has everything to do with this particular man, his policies, and his appointments. (Yep, sorry, that includes you, Ms. Conway.)

I’m not a Millennial, but I was a broken, emotional mess after the election. It’s been two months. If this were a self-indulgent tantrum, I’d be over it and out having brunch or getting my nails done by now. You know, like the precious snowflake I am.

Instead, I’m calling representatives, following calls to action, and hoping against hope that your worst case scenario is THE worst case scenario.

So Ms. Conway, since you asked…from one entitled snowflake to another; here is what I actually fear and who I actually am underneath that soft, snowflake exterior.

I am a mother concerned about the world we’ll leave to our children, and their children’s children. I hope my great, great, grandkids can play outdoors without a hazmat suit; and see polar bears in locations other than the extinct species list.

Our President-elect plans to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Agreement and repeal the Clean Power Plan – eradicating years of progress to cut greenhouse emissions. He, along with his pick for secretary of energy, deny climate change.

Our new secretary of state runs one of the largest oil companies in the free world, with deep ties to Russia. There is already talk of opening up government-owned national parks, wildlife refuges, and tribal territories, for drilling and mining. 

It is not looking good for the environment.

I am a mother, raising two young boys, who fears for the safety of our country. It concerns me when our President-elect haphazardly tweets about needing to ‘greatly strengthen and expand nuclear capability’; or when I see violent, racist acts committed in city parks, school hallways, and neighborhoods – in his name.

I am an educator wondering how science, history, and current events can be taught in a time when our highest leader regularly bends the truth and dismisses scientific facts when they are inconvenient to his message.

Our new secretary of education is a billionaire who has never attended or worked in public education. She supports anti-gay practices like ‘conversion therapy’ and would like to see religious schooling receive public funding. Our secretary of education should represent the interests of every student in public education; she does not.

I am a woman deeply concerned about the message our President-elect sends to men everywhere, including the two I am raising, about objectifying and disrespecting women.

I fear the consequences of defunding Planned Parenthood; especially for those who face systemic barriers to receive healthcare, and rely on services they provide for life-saving preventative care, and birth control.

I am a citizen of a nation founded on immigrants who is deeply disturbed that some of the most highly regarded positions in our government will now be held by the founder of a news organization responsible for the alt-right movement — endorsed by the KKK and the Neo-Nazis; and a US senator denied a federal judgeship for being too racist.

My resistance is not about my candidate losing and me not getting my way. It is much bigger than that. I fear the loss of decades of progress made for people of color, the LBGTQ community, women, and the environment. I fear the giant leap into the past that we are all about to take.

Call me a Snowflake, but I’m one of millions in this country truly terrified by the power granted to a man who has called climate change a hoax, made light of sexual assault, mocked the disabled, casually threatened to shoot his opponent, and is grossly unqualified for the immense responsibility he is about to assume.

I’m one of millions who believe we are in real trouble Ms. Conway. That it’s not a time to be silent, ignore words, and “give the benefit of the doubt.” This is not a high school student council election. Words matter, actions matter.

I am one of millions who will not be silenced by name-calling and condescension. We will not succumb to attempts at gas-lighting us into thinking we are ‘babies’ for having legitimate and important fears about the future of our nation.

I am one of the deeply troubled Americans who will gather and march after the inauguration, not to celebrate, but to send a message that while a few snowflakes may seem delicate and insignificant; millions together create a storm.