Thursday, February 28, 2008

How do you raise a feminist?

How do you raise a feminist?

In this blog post I have decided to write something about myself as a person. Therefore it is not so much “legal”, but still “feminist”.

When Professor Pruitt asked us on the first day of class if we were feminists, I was not taken by surprise. I have thought about it before, and have come to the conclusion that I am. (One of the things that made me think about it was actually a statement by the former Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson that he was a feminist, which I thought was pretty cool). But I have never thought about why I do consider myself a feminist. My response to Professor Pruitt on the first day of class was that, that it is just the way I was brought up. And after thinking about it for a while I am definitely sticking to my initial answer, because my conclusion after thinking about in the last month is, that it was in fact the way I was brought up. But how do you raise a feminist?

When I was growing up my sister and I would sometimes ask my father if he was sorry that he did not have any sons. And his response was always, that he was glad that he only had daughters. I don’t know if he was telling the truth or he just said it to make us happy. But I am pretty sure he actually meant it, because he is not really into “traditional” male activities like sports.

When I was younger my father always used to say, that when I grew up I would become the Prime Minister of Denmark, because I was so smart. I never had any aspirations to a political career though, but I think that what my father essentially told me was that I could do exactly what I wanted with my life, even hold the highest position in Danish society (besides from that of regent, but that is a pretty unrealistic career goal), regardless of the fact that I was girl.

My mother has worked outside the home my entire life. She is a kindergarten teacher. During the first five years of my life my father was still studying at university. My mom therefore worked full time, while my father stayed home more often, because studying allowed him to do so and to take care of me and my sister (in Denmark attendance in class at universities is not mandatory). So therefore my father did a good deal of the nurturing in my early life.

I was also raised as a feminist in a more direct way, because my mother, I am sure, would definitely also characterize herself as a feminist. She was educated as a kindergarten teacher in a period (the early 80’s) where feminist issues were very much discussed in her field of work and in the milieu surrounding that profession. So she has directly influenced me when it comes to opinions about feminism. It has just always been in her way at looking at the world.

When I was a baby I had both traditional girls toys and boys toys (even though I would never play with the boys toys except in a “girly way”). And my mother was opposed to dressing us in traditional girl colours such as pink and clothes that was typically feminine like lacy dresses. She always used to say, and still says, “there are no girl colours or boy colours”.

Furthermore my mother did not take my father’s last name when they got married and she insisted that we (my sister and I) should have her last name. In return my father chose our first names.

What I have described above are of course only a couple of the reasons why I today consider myself a feminist, and there are obviously also other reasons, such as experiences I have had in the latest years when it comes to the legal profession. But what the examples above are meant to say is that I have been taught to regard myself as in no (significant) way different from men or boys pretty much since I was born. And I think that is, partly, what has made me a feminist.

1 comment:

Lisa R. Pruitt said...

Your post primarily addresses how to raise a girl to be a feminist, but I think a lot about how raise my son to be a feminist. As in your family, I think a great deal of it comes down to modeling for the children what respectful relationships based on some form of equality look like. It can be inculcated, but even in this progressive era, I feel I'm butting up against so many harmful stereotypes. All we can do is keep struggling to convey to the next generation the importance and meaning of gender fairness.