A friend posted a link on my facebook feed yesterday (thanks, Meryl!) to an article about a student run feminist society at an all girls school in the UK. The link is here and I really think everyone needs to read it. Besides being appalling and disgusting the article was most of all, heartbreaking. But at the same time I was so proud of those brave girls for standing up for themselves and having the courage to proudly claim their feminism in the face of such ugly backlash. Articles like that and this one and this one run across my facebook or twitter feed every single day in passing, like it's no big deal.
What the hell, you guys? Is this not 2013? Are we not better than this, still? After all these years? This is a big deal, it's a really big fucking deal.
Why are more people not stepping up and saying quite matter-of-factly that this is simply unacceptable? How do you mothers and fathers of daughters face the challenge of raising women in an environment that is still so overtly sexist?
This topic has been simmering in my (admittedly overflowing) pot of worries ever since the Steubenville rape case and after yesterday's article it finally reached a boiling point. The Steubenville case was as sickening and awful as all rape cases are, but the most disturbing part to me was the complete nonchalance the boys showed regarding their actions. Freely tweeting pictures of their victim and boastful, joking texts about what they'd done because they DIDN'T THINK THEY HAD DONE ANYTHING WRONG. It apparently never crossed their minds that what they saw as a night of partying and hilarious jokes could possibly be an actual crime. And that, my friends, is what horrifies me.
I sympathize for you parents of daughters out there, I really do. But me? I have sons. And after all of this I fear I may have the bigger task after all. How do you raise conscious, empathetic, respectful young men? How do I make sure they don't become the next Trent Mays or Ma'lik Richmond? How do I make sure they know right from wrong and that "NO" means "NO" not "do whatever the fuck you want to do anyways"? (And seriously, if the person is unconscious, it's a "NO" by default, ok?)
I don't have the answers yet, I hope I find them. I do know my boys have good examples in their father and grandfathers. I do know I plan on having very candid, yet apparently necessary conversations with them about women and sexual boundaries. I know keeping an open dialogue and using examples like these to teach them right from wrong should help guide them as they form their own values.
Today I am starting by standing up and proudly stating, I AM A FEMINIST.
And I need feminism because I am raising sons and I want them to be feminists too.