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Am I raising a feminist?

I was trying to decide what to write about today and stumbled on this article from CNN which basically asks, "where are all the millennial feminists?" Then goes into a long exploration of what it does or doesn't mean to claim that label today.

Much of it centers around the fact that women, for the most part, tend to now take for granted that they should be treated as equals to men. But they hesitate to claim a category that requires a kind of separation in the very definition. For many of today's young women, it ceases to be about gender at all.

Of course, to claim that gender or skin color doesn't matter anymore is ridiculous. That's not what they're saying or what we mean to say when we talk about Obama's post-racial America. Victory doesn't mean the work is done any more than Reconstruction meant the Civil War was still going on. We had a long passage to the Civil Rights movement and the end of Jim Crow still. Segregation wasn't killed at Gettysburg even if slavery was.

I've written extensively in the past on gender issues...women in science, women in education, gender roles...I'm a guy who changes the majority of the diapers in my house, for goodness sake. But I'm not sure I'm raising a feminist daughter either. I'm not sure I like the assumption, either, that I should.

I'm just raising a person who happens to be a girl. And I hope she sees it that way eventually. (Just as I hope to get it through my son's head that hitting his sister is not going to get him what he wants or very far in life.) If not wanting to limit her in any way makes me a feminist or her a feminist, by all means label me.

What's that Kierkegaard quote? If you label me you negate me? I'm raising an existentialist daughter, above all else. My son, too. (Of course, hopefully one who will reject the existentialist label, too!)

We have choices to make in life. Those choices are yours. It's quite a bit more empowering, actually. Because, as those millennial non-feminists will tell you, it really isn't about gender. Or skin color. Or sexual orientation. Or whether you like to eat meat on Fridays. Or any of the other random, arbitrary assignments we make about the human condition.

If my daughter is being the best her possible then no feminist label is required. The President, for the most part, is being criticized for everything but being black. That is perhaps the strongest signal of what kind of world we live in now. Skin tone, genitals, and number of fingers on your hands, should probably not be a measurement for your lot in life.

In the end, my advice to my daughter is going to be that she better never use her gender as an excuse. Of course, she's welcome to use it to her advantage, but that's a WHOLE other conversation we'll save for later. Maybe that's what this debate is really about? Gender is never neutral right? Blondes have more fun? Men with beards are sexier? (For the record, your author believes beards AND glasses are a perfectly awesome label.) Boys like to play with trucks a little more, on the whole?

Just don't mistake coincidence with leverage. Or disadvantage. Maybe THAT'S my biggest pet peeve about being a gender role-bending dad is that too often my situation is confused with some sort of weighted subtext.

I like to take care of my kids. That is all.



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