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How do you talk about feminism with your young daughters?

(9 Posts)
Oscha Sat 18-Feb-17 14:13:49

DD is 5. She firmly believes that boys and girls are entitled to be treated equally, gets furious whenever she hears any suggestion of the opposite, and can hold forth about 'nasty Mr Trump.' She's awesome 😄

But I find our conversations about feminism, equality, activism etc are becoming more and more stilted. They're happening fairly regularly, due to the world we live in I suppose, and to the news coverage of the recent marches and protests. She wants to know more and more and I'm proud of her for asking questions and being interested, but how do you tell a 5 year old what the patriarchy truly is and has been without scaring the shit out of them? I have always taken an 'I'll answer any question truthfully' approach with this and everything else, but I'm getting to the point where I don't want to tell her the truth. It is easier with stuff like babies, where we got as far as 'the man uses his penis to put sperm inside the woman, and that meets an egg and forms a baby,' she laughed at the idea of an egg (😆) and then got bored and we talked about something else. The questions about equal rights are so much more geared to her sense of self though-she likes babies but has no interest in having one, obviously! Whereas she is absolutely interested in being given the same opportunities as boys, and in her right to be safe while she has them. How do you explain that for centuries it has been the norm for women to be treated differently, badly, violently? I have the same issue with age-appropriate discussions about racism. I want her to know about it and she wants to know about it. It makes her sad and angry. But I don't really want her to be exposed, at this age, to the horror of it. (And then I feel, well, if she weren't white, I wouldn't have that choice.)

Can anyone recommend any good books or films that might address some of her questions in an age appropriate way? Or books or films for ME that would help me continue to talk to her about these things without scaring her silly?

VestalVirgin Sat 18-Feb-17 15:57:18

Hm, that is a very good question. I don't think there is a way you can tell her about that without scaring her, to be honest - I am an adult and I am still plenty scared!

Focus on the feminists, always. Whenever you mention an injustice, try to find a woman who fought it. That might help her be less scared.
There is this saying about fairy tales not teaching children that monsters exist, because they know that already, but teaching children that monsters can be fought.

measles64 Sat 18-Feb-17 16:01:59

I hope folk are teaching their sons as well.

BeyondUnderthinking Sat 18-Feb-17 17:28:23

I certainly am, measles.

Oscha Sat 18-Feb-17 20:19:28

I love that saying about fairy tales Vestal! And yes, focusing on the heroes is a good approach.

I'm sure people are teaching their sons too.

MrsTerryPratchett Sat 18-Feb-17 21:10:03

I don't focus on the bad as much. I focus on doing little things, like making sure her books have great female characters. And, a small but significant thing, every animal we meet, read about or see, unless it's obvious, is 'she'. It's amazing how everyone calls worms, whales, tigers and spiders 'he'.

She'll have to learn about the patriarchy in time, for now we point out people like Trump.

AltheaThoon Sun 19-Feb-17 09:50:16

Yes MrsTerry, I do the female pronoun thing too. It's amazing how often people say 'how do you know it's a female?' when they hear (well, my parents mostly 😕). 'He's is so readily accepted as the default whereas 'she' is questioned. It's very telling.

booox Sun 19-Feb-17 10:00:48

Actually, I think there needs to be parallel discussion around how to talk to boys about feminism.

Already shocked at how some beliefs seem to permeate my 4 year old ds through his time at nursery. E.g. Boys are stronger than girls. Girls only like pink. Pink is yucky. Etc.

I challenge and disprove but it's pissing me off!

MrsTerryPratchett Sun 19-Feb-17 15:30:38

Althea i get around that with, "DD look at that worm, it... oh do you think it's a boy or girl worm?" And she faithfully assigns it a gender grin almost always female. Really nasty predator dinosaurs get called male but that's because she doesn't like them eating baby triceratops!

My favourite DD sex-naming hilarity is that she asks if meat she eats is a mummy or daddy or baby pig. She only wants to eat daddy animals! Terrible feminists wishing violence on males!

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