6 Things Feminist Moms Refuse To Say To Their Daughters

by M. Esther Sherman

"Feminism" is a word that evokes emotions and opinions on all sides. From the perspective of many people in my own circles, it's a word that somehow demeans their view of motherhood and life. But is that really what feminism is about? I remember being a child and being told feminists were angry man-haters but in the course of growing up, I realized that's simply not the case. The basic idea of feminism is that women should have equal rights with men. Seems pretty straightforward, right? For some, yes. For others, apparently not.

Having gone beyond the stage of acceptance and proudly claimed my title of feminist, there are some ways it impacts my life and my parenting. For those of us who identify as feminists, there are some things we refuse to say to our daughters. Many of the things I refuse to say to my daughter come direct from my parents. Raised in a male-dominant household where doors were to be opened, meals were to be paid for, and the wage-gap was never to be spoken of, my feminist tendencies rebelled at an early age. As an adult and mother of a stubborn, dynamic, awesome daughter, I’ve fine-tuned my lectures to avoid certain phrases that just need to go away.

"That's Not Ladylike"

OK, I do occasionally use this sarcastically when what I really mean is, "You’re acting like a giant jerk-face and need to knock it off." But in terms of its intended meaning, this is a phrase I just don’t use. Growing up, this little tidbit was frequently tossed my direction to mean anything from “cross your legs and keep your dress on” to “be quiet” to “get out of that tree” and none of those directions were particularly helpful in life. I’ll take my freaking dress off if I choose to, I have no intention of being quiet when I have things to say, and I still like climbing trees. So, no. My daughter will not hear these words used as a way to suggest she should be different, quieter, or less than herself simply because she has lady parts.

"Boys Don't Like That"

I don’t give two craps what boys like or don’t like. I don’t cater to this in my own life and I won’t set up expectations for my child to do it in hers. If she chooses to do stuff that revolves around seeking the attention of men, fine. (I mean, not "fine" but she can choose her own path, although catering to male opinion is the last path I'd want her to choose.) But I’m damn sure not trying to make it so. If she wants to never shave her legs, never wear a bra, and/or never paint her toenails, she’ll hear no complaints from me. Though, since my child is adept at high-heel walking and has a wardrobe of dresses to make any princess swoon, I doubt this will be the case.

"Women Are Meant To Be Submissive"

I just threw up a little bit in my mouth typing that. It seriously hurt. Still, this was something I was taught growing up that I refuse to pass on to my Little. Certainly, there are women in submissive roles just as there are men in submissive roles. But life is not dictated by gender and if she wants to be a badass ruler of the world, no man has the right or authority to claim superiority based solely on the splinter between his thighs.

"You Can't Do That"

Ha, just kidding. I tell her things she can’t do all the time because I’m her mom and letting her jump from the balcony just because she thinks it looks like fun is not something I’m going to do. What I don’t do is finish the sentence with, “…because you’re a girl.” If there’s anything she can or can’t do, it will be based on her abilities and common sense and safety, and pretty much everything but her gender.

"He Hurts You Because He Likes You"

I hope all parents are done saying this to their daughters but feminist parents have definitely crossed this off the list of things to say. No, he doesn’t hurt you because he likes you. He hurts you because he’s incapable of communicating properly and is either a jerk or an idiot and either way, stay away from him.

"Don't Be Bossy"

Be the motherf***ing boss.

Images: margejacobsen/instagram; Giphy(6)