Worried I'm missing opportunities to 'teach' my 3 DDs feminism(117 Posts)
I say 'teach' but I probably mean leading by example, immersing them in the understanding of feminism. I'm concerned I'm uninformed and therefore missing opportunities or worse providing examples of conforming to patriarchy.
I'm a SAHM with school age DDs. yes I'm 'one of those'. DH earns a good salary but works long hours, and I think he has the short straw. I organise the house, kids, finances etc. So although I don't earn money, I certainly control it - choose mortgage, insurance, savings plans etc. Of course, I'm still financially dependent on DH but doesn't really feel like it.
With this family set up can my DDs be introduced to feminism? How can I do this? Do you chat about the theories with your DCs?
If you're financially dependent how much autonomy do you have? What do your daughters witness about the equality between the sexes when they look at you and DH?
It's still possible. It's different but I'm annoyed to this day my mum changed her surname to my dad's, it's something I'll never stop questioning her over but I still admire her hugely. She's my inspiration. The main thing is you bring your daughters up to be who they want to be, not be limited by stereotypes or outdated notions of gender and to feel free. Also to resist and oppose male violence.
That's interesting about changing my surname. I didn't. For several years I kept my name. Then we had kids. What surname should they have. We gave them his surname - double barrel wouldn't work. It was a total pain in the arse having a different surname to my children and when they were around 2 & 4 I changed it to match. That was 10 years ago. It seems more common now but I did feel a bit freaky back then.
Sorry, I didn't mean to turn this thread into a debate about that - apologies if my post was unhelpful. On that issue I can't see any reason for a man not to change his surname if he marries and think it's symbolic of sexism children seem to almost automatically get their father's surname.
You started the thread about introducing your daughters to feminism though so sorry for derailing it! You can definitely introduce your daughters to feminism I think. Ensure they're free from gender stereotypes (as far as they can be), can aspire to anything they want, can discuss feminist issues with you; as a feminist yourself I'm sure there's a lot you can talk to them about. Questioning why some things are as they are, sexist attitudes they may hear and so on. I definitely think your daughters can be introduced to feminism and hope they are!
Follow a Mighty Girl on facebook for great book recommendations. Make sure your DH does pull his weight around the house. Talk to them about different ways of living - don't say things like 'oh yes, it's a shame little friend can't have playdates, but his mother works' (in the same tone as you'd say 'her mother has heroin for breakfast) as a particular charmer said about my DS's friend in the playground once.
Being a SAHM does not prevent you being a feminist role model.
You sound like you have an equal relationship. Do your girls see you making decisions independently, does your DH treat you with respect? Is it clear you are SAHM because that is what you wanted and chose to do, rather than what was expected?
I talk to my girls about feminism, the history of womens' rights, continued inequality. We follow various strong female role models on Social media. Also accounts like Mighty Girl which often feature stories of incredible women.
It might also be good to tell your daughters about great women when you can, or women who've thrived in fields associated with men such as Ada Lovelace, of that Cordelia Fine is the third woman in a row to win the Royal Society Science Book of the Year, or women excelling now such as DPP Alison Saunders, all depending on their interests of course and raising them in the context of what they want to study/do in future. I think it's vital girls see examples of women who have thrived and are thriving in various industries, lots of girls don't realise certain opportunities are open to them I think, internalised from a young age certain careers/past times are "for boys".
Being a SAHP doesn't mean you have given up your rights to feminism. As long as you have made that choice and feel empowered it is what works for you. Seems senseless to me to sacrifice financial security and stability at the alter of feminism. Your contribution, your work in the Home, is just as important.
I think what's more important is embracing the individuality of the little people you're raising. Embrace their quirks and encourage their interests, whatever they may be. Challenge stereotypes as they arise (for example ALL mums stay at Home, all dads go to work) but always emphasise that it comes down to choice.
It's not about giving long winded lectures on feminism but as and when those issues arise use it as a springboard for discussion, where appropriate.
I think there's a balance to be had. I consider myself the equal of any man. My husband considers me his equal/superior. We make major decisions jointly. I'm not an angry, get really cross about surnames and pink clothes type person though. I believe man and woman are different- equal but different. I see no issue with women performing most of childcare if husband is supporting family and working long hours. It becomes an issue if that childcare is seen as less important than being a CEO of a multinational.
Role modelling is key. My girls are all high achievers who are fully able to support themselves financially, socially and emotionally. They choose to be in equal and respectful relationships and expect their needs/wishes to be given parity with their partners needs/wishes.
My experience is that women who ditched the anger about men taking up,more physical space/men not being able to feed an infant etc are happier and actually live more equal lives.
I'm afraid it's going to be tricky to "model" feminism when you're a SAHM. Actions speak louder than words. And you gave the kids your husband's surname, and then took it as well? If you don't mind me asking: in what ways are you a feminist?
Little daily things - when you go shopping, ask them why they think there are segregated boys and girls clothes, then why the girls stuff is pink princesses while the boys stuff is superheros and dinosaurs.
Ask them what they think job <that person over there> does, what would be good or bad about it, ditto with people in the public eye. Try and subtly find examples that are routinely gendered.
Play games of "spot the sexism" (you will know how to make that age appropriate!) - make it fun and educational. Teach them the basics of the suffragettes and why they did what they did.
If appropriate, show them Jane Elliott's "brown eyes, blue eyes" experiment as a way of saying that -isms are generally wrong and talk to them about how blue/brown eyes can be sex or skin colour or anything.
I agree with a lot of what has been said, I would also try and teach them to support other women rather than see other women as competition. I hate the way we often tear each other to pieces over the choices we have made or the way we look etc or are bitchy about every day matters.
That's not a very helpful post in my opinion Wunderkind77.
WomanNoCis I think it sounds like you're excellent, thinking about how to introduce your daughters to feminism and will be able to do so - I'm sure they are and will continue to thrive!
@Wunderkind77 - if a feminist is defined by employment and surname then it's not the important status I thought it was. Being a feminist is important to me because I take it to mean I live a life where I am empowered to make choices and decisions. A life where I am respected and valued. A life where my gender never limits me. A life where I contribute positively to society and support other women to feel equally empowered. Those are the important things.
I do work and have retained my own surname but those are not the features that make me proud to be a feminist.
OP - what are your longer term plans once your children are older? Have you given any thought to this? As an older woman, I can tell you the child rearing years are a surprisingly short section of a long life (unless you have loads of children far apart).
My children have pretty much flown the nest so I am very grateful for the foundations I laid that mean I know have a well paid and fulfilling career to take me to retirement.
Many women take the opportunity to leave a job they don't enjoy and retrain in something fulfilling. Actively engaging in what you plan to do longer term that isn't about you being their mum will enable your children to see you as a full and rounded human being with opportunities and skills beyond child work and house rearing. It will also ensure that you don't find yourself in the position of many middle aged women who can't get back into the world of work in an interesting role.
This is doubly good as it explores opportunities that your children may be interested in longer term as well as you and reinforces that there is a whole world outside the home that women can, and do, engage in to make a meaningful and important contribution to the larger community, through the work they do, the colleagues they support or the taxes they pay.
But being the woman at home and "running the house" is hardly a great example - that's what the OP's concern is. Your daughters will see that as the norm and it may be likely that they themselves will have no careers. Why don't you work on developing a career for yourself, once the kids are in school? Then you'll be modelling something much better.
Nothing wrong at all with being a SAHM of course, but do you do anything away from the family? Volunteering, local campaign groups, etc? If not it might be worth thinking about - not just for your own interest and the contribution you can make, but also so that your daughters see you with your own life, engaging in the wider world.
OP I don't think being a SAHM is a problem, I worked outside the home so not a decision I made/was able to make, but in my opinion it is perfectly valid.
Surnames again it doesn't strike me as the biggest issue going. I took my husband's name, it was convenient, but what does it mean? It was the surname of the man who owned my husband's great, great grandmother and his great grandfather was born a slave. We don't know the nature of the relationship, was she raped, abused or was it love? Well he didn't give her or her child their freedom so that tells us something but still we use his name.
I can only say that with 4 children, both sexes, I was happy for the boys to dress up as princesses and the girl to be a soldier/knight or whatever. I don't do girly in clothes/make up/jewellery and neither does she, we don't do macho for the boys. I think maybe because she had 3 brothers my DD tended to play "boys" games with boys and it never occurred to her that it was a problem. Similarly when it came to A levels and degree no one questioned her decision to study maths as her main love and physics as her second. It would have been just as acceptable if she had decided study beauty or child care or anything else.
I never set out to do lessons in feminism or equality but if anyone questioned their decisions e.g. son in a Disney princess dress, son with hair almost to his waist daughter in combat gear in cadets, then they got all my support to be whoever they want to be. The worst challenge we had was not with DD but one of her brothers when he decided to study nursing. Amazing how many people still think doctors are men and nurses are women even careers advisors in school e.g. "You are a bright boy, do medicine not nursing." As if all nurses are thick!
I would also challenge the idea that only paid work gives you satisfaction/status. Since retiring I have found the voluntary work I do gives me more satisfaction than my career ever did.
I have just bought a book called Dear Ijewele by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche (she is a young Nigerian writer). It's a very short book - a collection of letters she has written for a friend's baby daughter about feminism/being a feminist.
Being feminst isn't defined by whos surname you have for some women it is important to keep their own surname which probably is their fathers so you could argue the toss about that forever anyway your family set up if done well should have a positive effect on your Dds.
Agree with Grannytomine. I am also a SAHM with two young DDs. I don't work at the moment because logistically it's difficult. Once the youngest starts primary, I will be looking to get back into work. I do however volunteer with the local school - go in and read with the children, take them to the village library and also help out on the PTA committee re organising events etc.
I'm afraid it's going to be tricky to "model" feminism when you're a SAHM
Are you seriously putting forward the view that a stay at home parent cannot be a feminist? Seriously? And the little head tilt at the end? Where do stay at home dads come into it? Are they all automatically not feminists either? Or do they get to automatically 'be one' because they don't work outside the home? But women can't?
OP, I know plenty of stay at home parents who are fabulous feminist role models. As some helpful posters have commented, feminism can be taught in all kinds of ways and your attitude to public figures, what you say to your children about women's rights and roles throughout history and now is vital.
Don't think for one moment that a stay at home mother cannot be a feminist. Your daughters must learn that everyone can be and that they- and you - can own whatever choices they make. It sounds as though you're alert to the issues, just trust yourself.
For me it is really important not to assume one parent takes one role, so eg I won't assume a mum does nursery drop off when talking to my daughter about her friends, I'll say 'mummy or daddy '. It takes a bit of conscious thought initially but as soon as you reprogram yourself it's natural.
And not calling all animals/toys 'he' but using a mix of he and she.
This goes for service people, doctors, burglars, whatever person the child is interested in and taking about, don't assume a gender. I think this is really powerful.
Refer to your volunteering as 'work'.
Make up stories where the mummy is at work and the daddy looks after children.
Explain that in some families the daddy works, in others both work, and in others the mummy works. No need to get all heavy, just mention these things in passing.
Discuss what job your DDs might have when older in the same way you would with a DS, using the same examples.
When talking about house things explicitly say that mummy and daddy are both in charge. Don't talk about how daddy works hard to earn money for you so and mummy is so naughty spending it.
Are you seriously putting forward the view that a stay at home parent cannot be a feminist?
Yes. A SAHM living according to traditional stereotypes is not modelling feminism. Reversing it would be cool!
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