Parenting in the face of misogyny

Last week I wrote this post about how I’m trying to raise a confident, kick-ass kid who will be happy to have a penis and wear pink shoes his whole life. He’ll totally be able to stand up to bullies, and is the future of paradigm shifting in the world. My kid is awesome, and, in this respect, kidlet’s dad and I are rocking this parenting gig.

And then Unladylike Musings left a comment that drives home a lot of the fear I have for raising my kid.

“You have so much power over who that little person becomes. You know who you want them to be. Someone who is courageous. Someone who isn’t tied down by the gendering of small children. But there’s only so much a parent can do. Society, other children, other parents, and teachers can also have a huge impression on your child, for good or bad. And that, to me, is terrifying.”


This is a fear I felt to my toes when I found out I was pregnant with a boy. I cried, big, sobbing, gasping for breath tears. Not because I was unhappy I was going to birth a boy, please don’t misunderstand this, but because I felt so utterly un-equipped to raise him in a culture that encourages violence, misogyny, and sexual aggression from our boys. FROM MY SON.

And all of that fear came rushing back to me, like an avalanche, as I read Soraya Chemaly‘s piece at Feministe about Facebook’s newest fuckwittery, the “12 Year Old Slut Meme” page. A Facebook page which advocates public branding, and shaming of TWELVE YEAR OLD GIRLS.  Status update from the page,

“As long as there are sluts, we will put them in their place. “

The page has 215 THOUSAND ‘likes.’

I read this Friday and I cried a little. I remember being that girl, the object of this type of harassment. I remember that hot anxiety that would overcome me, well into my twenties, when I found myself in a group of a certain type of men. When I knew I was being sized up, judged, and would probably be subjected to some subtle, or maybe not, harassment. When standing up for myself would lead to nothing but more judgment and ridicule. I remember wondering, through my tears, what I should do differently so that I wouldn’t be subjected to these assholes.

WHAT IF MY SON TURNS OUT TO BE ONE OF THOSE BOYS? What if he toes the USian rape culture line, embracing his middle-class white male privileged status with a gleeful smile on his face? What if all of my efforts and best intentions yield nothing? OH MY MAUDE I worry about this daily.

But I have to believe, I have to believe that my efforts will yield an empathetic, inclusive, confident person who will appreciate and seek out differences in people. And who will be courageous enough to turn to his friends, when they try on these hyper-masculine costumes of assholery, and gently but firmly and repeatedly tell them to knock it the fuck off.



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7 responses to “Parenting in the face of misogyny

  1. J9

    Excellent post.
    I will say that it’s arguably equally as terrifying raising girls in this culture of ours. I stress about it pretty much daily as well.
    I’m SO glad that there are parents like you out there who are doing their part to raise awesome human beings.

    • I think raising children, period, is terrifying. I mean, we’re responsible for making sure they don’t turn out totally fucked up. Either by us, or our culture. At least, that’s how I look at it.

      You’re raising pretty awesome kids, yourself. 😉

  2. I apologize. I did not mean to project my fears about parenting and children onto you. But I will say, the fact that you are aware of and thinking about these things puts you far ahead of many parents I’ve met. I’m glad that there are parents like you who worry, as stressful and terrifying as it may be, about your child and who he will become. It is when there are no voices telling the child to buck societal standards of violence, sexual aggression, and misogyny, that he is more likely turn out like this. It sounds like he is very lucky to have you.

  3. L

    Eeeek. Why don’t they shut those pages down??? Arrest them?? It makes me so sad and angry that pages like those exist.

    • I don’t know why they don’t shut those pages down. I really don’t. Racist, abusive language isn’t tolerated, but sexist, misogynistic assault is totally okay. And, I mean, FB does warn people that it’s “controversial” humor. /barf.

  4. I haven’t been reading blogs for a while–I’m sorry I’m so late on this! Let me say that I believe that parenting really, really, really matters. Parents can create a space that lets kids know that the outside world isn’t the only option. Kids will encounter the outside world–Maybelle will encounter a world that fucks with her because she’s a girl and because she has Down syndrome–but she will know from her life with us that this is not all there is.

    I think kids may experiment with fitting in, with being assholes, with doing ridiculous, foolish things, but their experience as children at home will stick with them. I think your son, if he does experiment with assholery, will feel the wrongness of it because of how you’ve raised him.

    I truly, truly believe this–from my own lived experience and from the lived experience of many people I love.

    The end.

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