If you're anything like me, you spend a lot of time reflecting back on how the past has made you the person you are today. While we all have different life experiences and backgrounds, I think a lot of us were shaped (at least partially) by the experiences we had during childhood. For example, if you were raised as a feminist by your parents, it's likely your parents put an emphasis on your individuality, empowerment, and equality from a young age. While women in general have made huge progress in recent decades, the fight for full equality is far from over, especially in terms of intersectional issues.
In reflecting back on our childhood, it's important to remember that people understand feminism differently: What your parents did and thought was a very feminist move might not be something another feminist would agree with. Others, too, are wary of the feminist label, even if their actions appear to follow the guiding principles of feminism. While everyone's experiences are different, these signs might indicate your parents raised you as a feminist child, because I think there's nothing better than raising with a mindset for equality right from the start.
1. Your Parents Empowered You To Be Yourself And Not Change For Anyone
In my opinion, when you raise a child as a feminist, an integral aspect of learning and self-image is one of value, empowerment, and self-respect. Between the media and societal expectations, it's easy to see how even young children feel a desire to change themselves or conform in some way. For example, studies show that many girls begin dieting at the age of eight. If you were raised as a feminist, this certainly doesn't make you immune to structural or societal oppression; it does, however, help you to be aware of the context from a young age, so you're raised with the notion that you are valuable and wonderful just as you are.
2. They Taught You That Math And Science Are For Everyone
All too often, we hear the stereotype that girls aren't good at math or science, or that they simply dislike those subjects, or that they're only for boys. In fact, studies show that some teachers think boys are better at math than girls, and inflate grades when they know the gender of the student. If your parents raised you as a feminist, though, they likely encouraged you to pursue science and math if it interested you, no matter how you identified. Raised as a feminist, you likely learned that you can excel at whatever you put your mind to, and that you're not limited to certain subjects or career paths because of your sex or gender.
3. They Let You Play With Whatever Toys You Wanted, Regardless Of Gender-Based Marketing
Recently, a lot of stores have stopped separating their toys based on gender, which I think is awesome. Still, though, overwhelmingly in society, we tend to assign children's interests and desires based on their gender; it's rare to see a girl get toy trucks on her birthday, for example, or for boys to get a pink backpack for the new school year. That's not to say children don't want these things, of course, but that society ingrains certain cultural norms and expectations into our brains from an early age, so we come to associate masculinity and feminity with certain activities. If you were raised as a feminist, though your parents likely gave you play options independent of whether the toy was marketed to boys or girls.
4. They Taught You That Your Opinion Matters
Very often, society tells women that their voices don't matter. Sadly, this can even bleed down into the way we interact with children, as girls are traditionally taught to be seen and not heard. Little girls run the risk of being called "bossy," for example, when it's likely a little boy would be described as a "good leader" for doing the same thing. If your parents raised you as a feminist, it's likely they encouraged you to share your opinion and have an active voice in your own life. Of course, children can't make all decisions for themselves, but if you were raised as a feminist, it's likely you grew up with a sense of autonomy over yourself, and a belief that your individual opinion and voice had value.
5. They Encouraged You To Ask Questions
Similar to the notion that women are often instructed to be quiet and not share their opinions, women are also often discouraged from asking questions. Traditionally, we see women in gender roles which are secondary and submissive to men, be it in the workplace, in the home, or anywhere else. Things are definitely changing, but cultural and societal cues still linger. If you were raised by a feminist, you were likely taught that it's OK to ask questions and understand why people are making decisions (especially if they affected you!) or why people feel they way they do. This sort of empowerment can also help girls speak up in school, clubs, etc.
It's important to remember that feminism is not a one-size-fits-all definition, but a nuanced and complex movement, and that the "feminist" identification can mean very different things to different people. Still, if you identify with the traits above, I'm willing to bet your parents raised you as a feminist.
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