Sonora Jha has highlighted once again the importance of raising our children as feminists. Feminism is not only for the girls and women of our world to shatter the patriarchy; it is not a fight put explicitly in our hands. Yet it is a barrier to be knocked down by humanity as a whole.
While emphasising there is an unequivocal difference in how we raise feminist sons and feminist daughters, Jha recognises it may be even more important for our sons to be raised as a feminist. Her engaging, challenging, and thought-provoking book How to Raise a Feminist Son (Sasquatch Books 2021) shows us how to be better feminists; how to raise the next generation of feminists; how to raise our sons to fight against misogyny and female oppression still prevalent in our world.
Her timely book has reopened the conversation of how our children’s childhood plays a vital role in how they engage and what we teach them as they grow. We all have a fundamental influence on boys, whether it is as parents, teachers, aunts, or uncles. What is consistently needed is a reforming and reframing of our thoughts as we shape humanity. So, how can we raise a feminist son?
Redefine What Being A Man Means
Teaching our sons that it is perfectly okay to be vulnerable, to show emotion, and to be true to themselves helps them redefine what a man means. Gone is the previously perceived belief that men are strong and boys don’t cry. Toxic masculinity can be destructive to both our boys and also to gender equality.
Put A Spotlight On Misogyny And Patriarchy
Showing our sons, having in-depth discussions, possibly some arguments and debates, will help our sons to understand the deep-rooted issues which come with the patriarchy’s treatment of women. These discussions are vast - from the representation of women in fairy tales and romantic comedies, to consent and bodily autonomy.
Teaching equality to both our sons and daughters, emphasising that they can do anything and more, takes away the boxes we are often put into as a result of our gender. Emphasise our abilities, the endless possibilities, and relinquish gender norms. Show how everyone is deserving of our respect.
Be A Role Model
Our children learn from us. They watch us, mimic us, and take on our beliefs. Be a supportive and good role model. It is from our relationships, our interactions and our jobs that they first learn about gender roles. Make it clear that what you do at work and at home is not based on your gender but rather on your skills and interests.