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When I Realized I Was Teaching my Son to be Sexist

Twelve years old, I was riding my bike down our neighborhood hill as fast as I could. I remember beating my neighbor friend to the bottom of the hill and enjoying the thrill of winning against him. He was one of the “wild” kids in our little tribe and my girlfriends and I never really went over to his house to play. Unless he asked us to jump on the trampoline.

But he hated to lose and let me know about it too. To restore his manliness, he wanted to race down another hill not too far from our spot. The hill was far enough away on a busy road and I remember not being comfortable competing against him anymore. That’s when I heard it for the first time. Pussy.

I cringe as I write it now. I remember the feeling it gave me. I felt like I got punched in the gut. I felt bad for being a girl. I didn’t know anything about sexism and feminism but what he said never left me.

Why is it as a society we find satisfaction in insulting others by using feminine vulgarity? You’re a bitch if you’re in a bad mood. Your ex-girlfriend is a cunt because she broke up with you. You play ball like a girl. You’re a pussy for not racing that boy down the hill.

Why does it matter? Using these kinds of terms perpetuates a weaker view of women and skews upcoming generation’s view of the female sex. Calling someone a “pussy” instantly denotes a weak feminine counterpart. As if you’ve been called a girl and that’s somehow incredibly insulting.

Not just a girl, but a girl’s vagina which, I don’t know about you, but our vaginas are pretty amazing. I mean, my son came out of there. And for some reason, a teenage kid thought calling me a pussy was a good insult. Hmmm. Wonder where he got that idea.

While many worry about what celebrities and politicians say, you don’t see a lot of people talk about how their favorite popular teen movie had sexism in it. You don’t hear many talk about how their grandparent is a blue collar racist. No one wants to take that hard of a look at themselves.

I don’t really remember my parents running around spouting off gender degrading comments, but I’m sure they did. I do not doubt that most of my gender stereotypes came from TV and friends, especially growing up.

Unfortunately, there was a time when I had never thought too much about these degrading terms until I had a son of my own. I remember we had been playing in the front room and my husband made a comment about someone on TV  “crying like a girl.” For the first time I saw that I might be contributing to the problem.

Taking a hard look in the mirror, I realized that what I do and say could have my son imitating that twelve year old neighborhood jerk. I about threw up.

When my husband made that comment around our son, I knew we weren’t going to be talking like that in this house. Not anymore.

How do we break the cycle? The simple answer: within our homes.

I want to educate my son on respecting ourselves and the opposite sex. I want to live an honest life in front of him that shows integrity towards the male and female sex. As a family, we have to decide what that will look like and how we will cultivate an atmosphere of respect towards others. I want to empower my daughter to stand up against those that would slander her using feminine vulgarity.

In my home we won’t need to tear down each other by degrading their gender and using stereotypes.

And if my son gets beat by a girl in a bike competition, I hope he’ll tell her congrats and not “take it like a man” but authentically respond like a child should. Tell her she cheated.

What about you? Have any memories like this? How will you approach this with your children?

Do you ever wonder how sexism gets perpetuated? I realized I was teaching my son to be sexist and knew I needed to stop. Feminism. Sexism. Parenting.

 

 

Being a Parent Freaks Me Out

Squishy oatmeal on the floor. Granola stuck to the seat. Bacon filling the air. Dogs licking everything. Breakfast is my favorite. Bubby’s in a good mood and ready to try whatever food I throw his way. I said ready to try. Not always actually eat. We’ve been doing the whole “let-them-feed-themselves” bit and it’s worked out pretty well, for the most part. Drawback to this? Flying food when he’s not interested. Thank God for my dogs. Mike doesn’t even know the half of what’s been on our floor and mopped up by the dogs. I look at Asher and I can see the flail is about to commence. He’s going on 9 1/2 months and I’m telling you that kid already can feel when he does something he’s not supposed to. His hand is raised. I give him the look. He gives me the look. The look that says I’m still too little and don’t understand, right? You’re not going to do anything to me? Right? I’m just gonna throw this bloppy raspberry over… It’s an amazing and very quick process all of which happens in about three seconds. Breakfast is over.

parentfreaks

“Let’s move to the front room,” I find myself saying out loud. If you don’t know this already, parents start this habit of speaking everything they do out loud when they have children. “Let’s not do that, let’s go out side, let’s clean this toilet, let’s not pick our nose.”

I find myself thinking how in the world I would do this with two kids running around. That’s right. Running. I’ve just got the one who has just started crawling.

I remember when everyone was asking if he was crawling yet. While this is my first kid, I knew better than to hope for mobility. Mobility means chaos. Or fun. Whatever. Fun for about ten seconds. He’s crawling for the DVDs as soon I set him on the ground. I’m OK with this. It’s when we see the pretty light on the plugin that I start to get nervous. I always like to watch and see what he’ll do now that he’s discovered this ability to actually GO where he wants. The plugin calls his name. I swear he looks at me to see if I’m going to let him grab it.

It’s in this moment I freak out. I freak out because the realization that I am one of the biggest forces that will shape my son’s morality hits me in the gut.

Being a SAHM has been amazing so far. I know I still have a big journey ahead as Asher gets older and hopefully, someday, our famly grows bigger. There are the good days and the bad days, but I am enjoying this ride so far. When you become a first-time-mom and if you desire to stay home and are lucky to be able to, I don’t think you ever see the big picture of what you’re getting yourself into. Even if your kids are in daycare, you are still fumbling along the wall looking for light to help you navigate and figure out what the heck you’re doing. No matter if you work or work from home, whatever, you are now a parent. You are in charge of this little life. Don’t even get me started when his life grows outside of days with mom and dad.

No matter if you work or work from home, whatever, you are now a parent. You are in charge of this little life.

Being a SAHM logically means you spend A LOT of time with your littles. Knowing that I’m responsible to help him understand the difference between fun and risk or humor and bullying or love and lust is overwhelming. I think I’m starting to see what other parents mean when they say parenting is a privilege. We have a special right to guide and love someone unconditionally. No wonder many parents find God when they have children. What better way to understand His unconditional love for us than to experience a snippet of it with your own child.

Being a parent freaks me out when I think about all this. I’m reminded how small I am, how fragile I am. How fragile Asher is. How strong he is. How strong I can be. Never before has the phrase “God is my strength” rang more true to me than when I hear it tossed around as some kind of cliche. No. Not a cliche for me. A rock solid truth. A reminder that I can’t do this without Him. I am nothing without Him. The more I live this truth out in front of Asher, the more raw and human I am, then the better Asher will be. The better I will be.

Being a parent freaks me out. Being a parent makes me stronger.