Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Raising girls to be feminists

MHP had a segment on Sunday's show about raising girls to be feminists. Personally, I think girls should be raised to be independent thinkers and not indoctrinated into any ideology, and if that leads to some sort of feminist awakening, okay then.

Obviously, raising feminist daughters isn't akin to indoctrinating them into a cult, but I can see how this could backfire, dissuading choices that aren't "empowering" enough, or banning barbies and princess play. That only breeds resentment.

My introduction to feminism came piecemeal. Neither my mother nor my grandmother self-identified as feminists. (My grandmother openly disdained feminism, but as a woman who grew up poor with no opportunities beyond working as a waitress on in a factory, and one for whom staying home and raising children was a relative luxury, I don't blame her.) I have no idea where I first heard the word "feminist," but I had a library card, and as a girl who wasn't into girl things, I was interested in gender roles and society, though I probably couldn't put a name to it yet. I read a lot of disparate writers in the 90s -- Camille Paglia, Katie Roiphe, bell hooks, Naomi Wolf, Susan Faludi, Christina Sommers, Nancy Friday -- that fell under the umbrella of "feminism," and only as an adult did I realize some of these were the "wrong" feminists to be reading. (If you've spent any time in academic or online feminism, you can tell which were the wrong ones.) But I'm glad I did because it gave me more than a singular perspective. I know one thing: had feminism been "offered" to be, either explicitly or covertly, I would have resisted.

This is an odd post for me to write, as I'm still unsure of whether I should call myself a feminist or not. By most standards, I'm too much of a contrarian, too unable to toe the party line, but if you pare it down to a simple statement of should women be free to create their lives however they see fit, of course I am. And I think a part of that is not starting little girls (and why only the girls?) on a "proper" feminist education.