I have no doubt


His sister loved this t-shirt (a beloved gift from a beloved chum, who now runs the women’s center at Ohio University, thankyouverymuch). I was tickled whenever I saw our daughter wear it, but must confess I am even more tickled to see it on the boychild. I wasn’t the one who dressed him this morning, but I can see him picking this one out because it’s a pretty color. That, and he remembers seeing it on his the sun rises and sets on her big sister.

I can’t recall whether she asked what a feminist was. If she had, back when she was little enough to fit into this shirt, I’m not sure what I would have said. I’d have been tempted to go to Rebecca West’s gem, from way back in 1913:

I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a door mat or a prostitute.

Problem with that is that then I’d have to explain what a door mat was.

I could have also gone with something simpler and more recent, like Cheris Kramarae and Paula Treichler’s 1985 pearl, so oft-quoted: “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.”

But then I’d have to explain irony. Which would be a challenge, since I would probably be ironic as I explained it. I learned long, long ago that irony, like youth, is wasted on the young. But this does not help me resist its siren temptations. I go to it over and over, in spite of my certainty that it will be, as it almost always is, a colossal flop. When given the choice between (a) make sense to kid, or (b) entertain the self, I opt for (a) only with a show of great personal fortitude. Which I muster intermittently at best. Hey, I’m going to be on this parenting job for years and years; may as well enjoy myself at it.

Truthfully, if I were to hazard a working definition for someone small enough to fit into the t-shirt, I’d probably go with “A feminist is someone who sticks up for girls and women.” Which the lil’ peanut is all about. Heck, to his preschool chums, he explains his preference to wear skirts thus: “I like girls.”

I think he’s going to do just fine.

9 thoughts on “I have no doubt”

  1. His response might actually make him a “current feminist”. Sometime in the future, he might be aware of the radicalness of it, as might his sister, but I get the impression that neither of them will need to wait until the future for their feminism to kick in.

  2. As the mom of a toddler who just recently declared his favorite color “Piiii-nk!” (closely followed by “oooor-ange!”), I absolutely adore this post and picture. Our boy is such a…BOY…but he’s also soft, and affectionate, and terribly concerned with the pain of others, and he’s smitten with pink. We’re clearly raising a feminist, and I couldn’t be more proud.

    And I would go beyond saying yours is doing just fine…kids like ours are going to change the world. 🙂

    (By the way, I’m voting away on the Bloggies, and encouraging others to do the same!)

    • What a mensch (womansch?)! Fresh reader and already on the stump!

      I read recently about a pair of Oakland, CA moms who founded a clothing line for boys who love pink. I will now invoke the mighty power of Isis, otherwise known as using Twitter to ask local mom bloggers Heather and Whitney, and let you know who the heck they are (“Oakland moms boys clothes pink” did not do it for Google). Will append this comment with the link.

  3. Yes, please do post once you find it…my child would be in heaven with clothes from such a line!

    (As for already being on the stump – I’m a bipolar Libra. That’s a double whammy on the “this-is-awesome-and-I’m-nothing-if-not-fiercely-supportive-of-awesomeness” front.) 🙂

  4. love it! our wee boy is smitten with his new pink shirt, too. which seems to magically transform him into a she for the viewing public. and yes, “current feminist” seems in order.

    but … lots of prostitutes are feminists, too. just sayin’.


  5. My 11 year old son was a lot like your son. He was never afraid to wear pink, and once (while defending his choice of purple as his favorite color) told a boy at daycare, “I like purple, if you don’t like it that is fine, but we can all like different things.”

    One year he wanted a sequined sweater with Rudolph on it. However, it was in the girls section. He made me cut out the tag and PROMISE not to tell anyone.

    Now he is in middle school and has become more of a conformist (not by choice as much as by necessity). He still relates better to girls than boys, and likes purple, though he will not always readily admit it.

    His two moms support his choice to be whatever he wants to be, and I am sure you and your partner will do the same for your son. 🙂

  6. My 3 year old son will do anything to be like his sister! It’s funny too, because he’s such a boy, rough-housing, climbing, jumping – although, my 5 year old daughter does all this stuff too – and yet the minute I’m painting her toe nails he whips his socks off too, and if she’s playing dollies or barbies he wants in on it. My younger son (2) follows suit too – especially because his older brother and sister take the lead.

    Kids are awesome.

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