Thursday, July 14, 2005

Thoughts from a Reformed Feminist

I just ran by a post at A Family Runs Through It that featured an article about boys and gun play. As I'm currently filling up a new mental folder on raising boys, I found it very interesting and informative. I'm also very curious now about the difference between raising a girl and raising a boy. I used to believe that we were all the same, and our differences were because of our society. You know, nature vs. nurture. I don't feel that way anymore, and I'm curious about differences.

Let me explain. You see, I'm a reformed feminist. Now, before you all get up in arms (see article, heehee), let me explain. Since I can remember, I have always balked at the stereotypes placed on women. I didn't like being weak or delicate, I avoided skirts and dresses, and I wanted my own tool set, dang it! I ran off a lot of boyfriends by wrestling them to the ground. And so, I identified with the feminist movement, whole-heartedly believing that girls have been neglected in our society (which they have) and that boys get all the attention (which isn't neccessarily correct). While I hated sexist comments directed at women, I thought they were okay when directed at men. Things started to change after I graduated college, my opinions began to swing through conversations with my husband, ect. But nothing major.

And then it happened. I got pregnant. I was happily planning on raising another little tom-boy like myself, however, God has a funny way of tossing out our plans. Nope, the little booger is a boy, and boy what a boy he is!

Suddenly, I became painfully aware of how few positive role models there are in our society for little boys. What does our popular culture focus on as a "successful man"? Money, stuff, getting women, living for himself. Now women, would you want to marry such a man? NO!!!

And so, I wanted to help The Boy to grow up to be a true man, one who loves God, honors women, respects authority. I want to instill in Isaac the concept of gentle strength. Thankfully, I have a husband who is those things, and so that will be a huge influence as well.

But in wanting those things, I've come to the conclusion that the feminist movement, while doing many good things for women, has hurt men quite a bit, at least in the extremes. I'm not saying that the feminist movement is to blame for the crappy imagery on MTV, but that many boys have no idea what a true man is, because often, we can be SO critical of men. I don't know how many times I've heard a bunch of women sitting around complaining (and yes, myself included, although I try to avoid it) about men. Just recently, I actually was sitting in such a conversation when a woman said, "Yeah, we can do it all, we don't even need them to get pregnant anymore, and men hate that." The message was, we don't need men at all here. Really? We don't need men? How sad.

Now, I'm not saying that in order to be happy a woman needs a man, that's not it at all. What I'm saying is that the feminist movement, in it's extremes, often supports this view that because women are self-sufficient, strong, etc. that there is no place or purpose for men in our lives. I've heard comments about how guys are only good for carrying stuff. Isn't that on par with a man saying that a woman should be at home, cooking and cleaning and having babies? However, it's acceptable to say that about men, but sexist to say an equal comment about women.

As I am raising a boy, this really gets to me. How do those boys, who have moms who think like the women above, view their own worth? You can't tell me they don't pick up on it, girls certainly do. I want my boy to know what it means to be a true man, to seek God's heart, to love people, ect. And that certainly isn't going to happen if he hears me making comments about how "all men are alike....(fill in negative trait)". And, as he's growing up, I want him to be a boy. Meaning, I know that there will be things he does that a girl probably (notice, there are always exceptions) wouldn't do. And although he'll still get disciplined for poor choices, I'm not going to belittle him for being male, or wanting to do what males do.

And so, you ask, what's the point? I'm not really sure, but I needed to empty my brain and sort some thoughts out, and this has helped a great deal.

I would just add that, if you are raising boys: nurture them and teach them how to be good men. If you are raising girls: don't teach them that all men are slugs, instead help them learn how to pick the good from the bad, so that my son will have a fighting chance ;).

No comments: