For all the things feminist kids do (the inevitable tomboy phase, writing book reports on Marie Curie, an all-consuming preteen obsession with girl bands — you get the idea) there are also things feminist kids don't do. Feminism isn't just about advocating for gender equality by speaking out against sexism; it's also about recognizing internalized gender norms and doing what you can to stop perpetuating them.
Not everyone goes through the same trajectory, obviously, but there do tend to be some common experiences. In my experience, feminist kids tend to be a loud bunch; it's hard to keep quiet when all you can see is that people treat you differently because of your gender. If you were a feminist kid, even if you didn't know the meaning of the word yet, you were probably infuriated by all the ways people tried to limit your choices. Why did girls always have to make believe they were princesses? Who decided that boys don't cry? What fresh patriarchal nonsense awaits at school today? (OK, maybe a kid wouldn't say "patriarchal nonsense," but the sentiment is still there regardless.)
In the same way that sexism starts early on, feminism can, too. Here are five things feminist kids don't do — even if they don't even know they're feminists yet.
1. They Don't Use "Like A Girl" As An Insult
There's a reason te Always "Like a Girl" campaign is so insanely successful; virtually every kid ends up hearing "like a girl" used as an insult eventually, and it's the pits. When you're young, it can be hard to understand all the complicated factors that led to femininity being equated with uselessness, but that doesn't mean feminist kids will perpetuate it. What's wrong with doing anything like a girl? Girls are great. Boys are great. Gender certainly doesn't dictate someone's ability.
2. They Don't Tell Boys Not To Cry
Similarly, feminist kids are likely to take issue with the idea that "boys don't cry"; you won't catch one telling a boy to deal with it if he tears up after falling on the playground. If girls should be allowed to do the things that boys do, then boys should be allowed to do the same.
3. They Don't Let Gender Dictate Their Toys
Despite all the glorious feminist essays on the dreaded "pink aisle" published every holiday season, toys remain one of the most gender-segregated aspects of childhood, a dichotomy that has implications in what careers we pursue as adults. Girls are expected to play with dolls, boys are supposed to play with action figures, and that's that — in theory, at least. But good luck telling a feminist kid not to play with the toys they want to play with.
4. They Don't Expect Mom To Do All The Parenting
Considering the sheer strength of the belief that women are somehow destined to raise children, this might take a while to sink in. However, the realization that fathers bear equal responsibility in childcare is an important moment in every feminist's life.
5. They Don't Doubt Their Own Abilities
Most of all, feminist kids know their own worth. If they don't tell other kids what to do based on their gender, they certainly don't expect the same of themselves. Whether they're a girl who wants to be an astronaut or a boy who wants to be a stay-at-home dad, feminist kids don't let their choices be limited by their gender.
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