My parents raised me a feminist, society tried the opposite
My parents do not call themselves feminists,
They only know that (mistaken) definition of the word. The one that makes them believe feminism is what will make a woman die alone and full of two things: hatred towards men and cats.
A little bit of context: I’m from the part of america (the continent) that speaks Spanish, and over here we have the antonym for feminism: Machismo.
Machismo; it means women are weaker than men, that a woman needs a man to provide for her. Not everyone are Machistas, but many people are raised that way and truly believe this ideology even if they also find the word offensive and wrong.
Little girls are meant to play with dolls and pink toys, their brothers are meant to protect them (even if they are younger than their sisters) because they are “the men of the house”. Highlighted differences for both genders everywhere.
Everywhere but my home.
And here is where I explain why my parents, two people that don’t define themselves as feminists, achieved to raise me as one.
For starters they never treated me like a little girl, we were never unaware of that fact either, after all I am a girl. But they never made me feel that my gender defined my personality.
It was just another trait, like my black hair.
For them I was their child, their only one at that. Regardless of gender (boy or girl) they would’ve loved me the same, and that’s why they treated me like a person worthy of my own identity rather than a stereotype.
I had as many barbies as I had hot wheels cars, I wore beautiful dresses just as much as I wore pants and jeans. My room was not pink, but orange (cantaloupe orange, actually). I watched both Dragon Ball and Sailor Moon with my parents.
My cousins, friends and other kids were boys and girls and I was allowed to play with either of them. It didn’t matter if I was playing house with the girls or wrestling with the boys, or playing sports with both.
I was never defined as a tomboy by my parents or myself, either.
I am scared of spiders, even the tiniest of them, and quite often my mom or dad had to rescue me when I found one in my room or the bathroom.
But they never tried to protect me because I was a girl. They never neglected me either, they just protected me from the things they knew I feared irrationally (like spiders) and/or dangerous things or situations.
If I were a boy, they would’ve still rescued me from spiders and bugs. But they would have never told me that because I was a boy I shouldn’t fear things, just like I wasn’t told the same thing being a girl.
They never considered me boyish, they never said to their friends I liked girly or boyish things, I just liked some things, period.
And I think I never noticed society was different from my parents until I turned 12 and entered middle school.
Suddenly all these differences appeared, suddenly there were boys and girls…as in separated species. Boys played futbol (soccer, remember I am from the hispanic region and all) and girls talked and gossiped together.
I blended in, I used to have both friends that were boys and friends that were girls, but in lunch time I was more inclined to hang out with the girls. Mostly because, well, when I was forced to discover that I was a girl I was kind of pushed to the group.
I was with the girls but still behaved and thought like I was raised, and with that unveiled perspective the funniest thing happened: I started to notice my friends acting…machistas?
They didn’t believe themselves to be weaker than men, I knew that, but they still acted that way.
Whenever a ball passed flying over, they used to scream as if they were being thrown a bomb. And they knew the ball would not really harm them, they weren’t really afraid of balls, they just acted that way because there were boys nearby.
Some would do the same with water bottles for example, pretending to not being able to open the cap and handing it over to a boy, specifically a boy, even if there were girls that could open closed shut bottles.
I felt a little like an outsider with the way they acted, I noticed this, and I wasn’t sure if that was how I should behave. My parents had never let me use the excuse of me being a girl to cry for help with carrying heavy things that I could very well carry myself-
So, whenever I battled with a stubborn bottle cap, or when I claimed I could move my desk without help, or carry my own books or open doors…I felt a little of regret and guilt afterwards, should I’ve let a boy help me? should I’ve asked for help even if I didn’t need it like my friends did? was I being rude?
What was I supposed to do? what was a girl supposed to do?
I’ve never asked myself that before, I blame my teenager self. After all, aren’t we all a little manipulated by society at that age?
I wasn’t a boy hater, or believed girls were superior or anything. I let boys and girls open doors for me, or help me with things I couldn’t carry myself, I asked for help when I needed it. But I never did specifically look out for the assistance of one gender or another.
And never pretended to like things I didn’t like.
We had this option at school, to choose which workshop we wanted to take. They were two classes per classroom, cooking and technical drawing.
Yet again society trying to divide us. It was clearly obvious the school had assigned this two classes so girls could take cooking and boys technical drawing.
I was one of the only three girls that chose technical drawing (the other 17 were boys), and in the cooking workshop there were only two boys in the midst of a mostly girl class.
Now, the goal isn’t to have a cooking class full of boys, or a technical drawing class full of girls, but to give both girls and boys the freedom to choose what they want without being pressured to go for one or another. This is not Star Wars, you don’t have to choose being a Jedi or a Sith, there are not universe defining consequences with a boy attending a cooking class.
But I am getting out of topic.
Now that I am an adult, I consider myself a feminist, and the correct definition of feminism for me is the philosophy that fights for equality. Boys and girls as equals, without labels, just people.
Just like my non feminist parents taught me it should be.
(by the way, they are feminist. They just don’t know)