Has anyone else noticed that being a feminist can actually prepare you for motherhood, in some surprising (and some not-so surprising, honestly) ways? I mean, if motherhood has required you to assess your feelings about complicated topics, like feminism and politics and the solo careers of each Jonas brother, please raise your hand. Okay, now while everyone’s hands are raised, please imagine me running around giving you all enthusiastic and supportive high fives, they key word there being “supportive.” I’m not trying to celebrate the challenges that such internal debates may cause, but merely recognizing that becoming a parent makes you think. A lot. About everything. All the freakin' time.
I'll admit, I was slow to adopt the label of “feminist.” For some reason, I associated it with women I didn’t feel like I had much in common with. However, I’ve since learned the error of my ways and now subscribe to the same definition offered by Emma Watson in her 2014 UN speech, which defines feminism as, “The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.” I mean, how can someone not be behind that, right?
The belief in gender equality actually applies to motherhood in countless ways, too. For example, if you believe that every mother deserves to parent however she decides and however will facilitate her doing what she needs to do in a healthy and safe way, chances are you're a feminist. If you believe that a woman should have the freedom to either stay at home after she has a baby, or go back to work after she has a baby, and either choice shouldn't be judged, chances are, you're a feminist. The list of ways feminism helps you be the best mom you can be literally goes on and on, and it definitely includes the following:
You've Had Plenty Of Chances To Think About Your Role in The World, Society, And In The Home
This doesn't mean you've come to any firm conclusions, but you're certainly aware of the infinite ways that women are defined, and how these definitions vary based on who you ask, and even on when you ask them.
It Helps You Define Your Wants And Needs For Your Family
Some women want to work, some women don't. I'm in the camp that tells other women "you do you," and hopes that they'd say the same to me.
It Helps You Consider The Example You’re Setting
My son, a toddler, is too young to really grasp what his parents do when we sit at our computers for hours at a time (we both do at least part of our work from home). At some point,though, I expect he'll understand and see that we're modeling motivation and work ethic, and oh yes, a feminist household.
It Opens You Up To Others’ Pregnancy And Birthing Experiences
Now that I've been through pregnancy and childbirth, I'm a lot less likely to assume that my opinion as to what the "right way" to birth is, should be applied to others' experiences. There are way too many factors to consider to assume that I know or understand another woman's situation (except when it comes to crying during your birthing class. I've got that situation pretty much on lock).
You’ve Had A Chance To Really Assess How You Feel About Certain Issues That Will Affect Your Child
Oh hello, maternity leave, a topic I never cared much about until 2013. I almost didn't see you standing there next to gun laws and police brutality, other issues that totally occupy my attention.
It Makes You Aware Of How Lucky You Are In Some Ways (And Unlucky In Others)
On one hand, I'm forever grateful that I live in a place and time with modern medicine and wi-fi and Chris Pratt. However, I'm still grumpy over the weak maternity leave policies in the US. I have family in Europe and you guys, seriously, most countries there know what's up.
You’re Aware Of The Messages Your Child Sees About Women
On that note, I probably won't watch anything above G-rating in front of my kid for, oh, ten or twenty years. Although, to be fair, a G-rating doesn't mean I'm going to like everything about it, either. Thankfully, Disney seems to be embracing a more feminist storyline, so the poor princesses being saved by the tough, valiant prince are few and far between. Women are saving themselves now, and it's so rad.
You've Practiced Defining Your Needs And Wants
Partially because you've had to ask yourself about your own goals, like any adult, but also because you've had to make serious life choices based on what's realistic and what options are available to you (and how much you will be paid for pursuing them).
You’re Practiced Repeating Yourself And Staying Strong When Your Opponent Is Clearly Irrational
Not that I'm talking about any political groups, or age groups in particular (ahem, toddlers). But if I were, there would definitely be some overlap in how you talk to them and what they say back to you and how conflicts are handled. You guys, it's uncanny.