In the early days of parenthood, life tends to revolve around your baby. Between feeding and changing and sleeping, there isn’t much room for anything else. But as our kids grows older, we begin to recognize the importance of raising them to be good, productive, kind citizens of the world. In short, we realize we want to raise our children to be feminists. But how do we do make sure we're successful? How do we recognize the signs that we’re raising an intersectional feminist to begin with?
As a feminist mom, my goal is to raise not only a happy and healthy child, but one who also identifies as a feminist. I want my son to understand that the world does not revolve solely around him. I want him to be considerate and generous. I want him to understand that sexism, homophobia, transphobia, racism, and so many other kinds of hate exist in this world, and I want him to understand that it’s also on his shoulders to help end all that hate. I’ll teach him about consent, and respect, and equality. I’ll teach him how to be an activist.
But it will all take time, of course. I can only do so much with my 3-year-old budding feminist, so for now, the best thing I can do is check for the signs that I’m raising him with the tenets of intersectional feminism in mind.
They Have Toys That Are Typically Thought To Be For A Different Gender Than Their Own
Toys don’t have gender. They are things that we play with, and it doesn’t matter what color they are, or what Disney character they’re exploiting. Check your child’s toy box. Are the items diverse?
They Choose Clothing That Is Gender-Neutral Or Gender-Diverse
I haven’t been the best at this, mostly because much of my son’s clothing has been gifted to him. That said, I peruse the aisles of the girls and boys sections to see if he has any interest in any item. I’ll continue to do this and allow him to make his own wardrobe decisions.
They Don’t Automatically Assume Gender Based On Things Like Clothing Or Hair Length
While many folks (kids and adults alike) have assumed my son is a girl due to his long hair, I never make a big deal of it. I don’t want him to think that being mistaken for a girl is somehow a negative thing. Plus, while I refer to him as male for now, my child will eventually make up their own mind about their gender. I make sure he understands the fluidity of gender, and I try to remind him that folks can be different genders and look any way they want.
They Understand That “No Means No”
If your child knows to stop a behavior on the first “No,” congratulations! You win motherhood! Ha, no but seriously, it’s important to see how quickly your little one responds to giving and withdrawing consent. If they seem to be having trouble, make sure you’re not giving any mixed signals.
They’re Good At Sharing (Or At Least Try To Be)
Sharing is caring, as they say. You’ll know you’re at the start of raising an intersectional feminist when your child gets good at sharing. And not just when they’re asked or told to, but when they go out of their way to be generous with all.
They Enjoy Stories About All Kinds Of Children, Not Just Ones Like Them
Intersectional feminism means approaching everything you do by considering all the overlapping systems of oppression. This means considering the perspective and experience of queer folks, black folks, trans folks, latinxs, low income folks, etc. You’ll be wise to read stories to your child that involve a variety of people, and not just ones who look like them.
They Try To Make Friends With Everyone Regardless Of What They (Are) Like
Aside from stories (and cartoons, and songs, and art, etc), it’s important for your little one to have a diverse set of friends. Of course, it might be difficult at times and if you live in a fairly homogenized area. But if you encourage them to befriend all folks no matter who they are or what they look like, you’ll definitely be setting them up with a good feminist foundation.
They Question Everything
Kids in general tend to be curious. Your budding intersectional feminist is sure to ask all the tough questions, as well, and not just to be a nuisance (“Are we there yet?”). They'll especially ask questions when they see injustice.
They Constantly Want To Help
A good sign you’re raising an intersectional feminist is that your child enjoys helping. It might seem like a very basic thing, but if your kid enjoys helping people out, you can assist them in finding various ways they can help in the world. Take them to a volunteer orientation. Teach them about activism. Explain to them why it’s most important to help the underprivileged.