Raising Feminist Loving Men

I was reading an article about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s new book and her tips for raising trail-blazing daughters. It has some great tips from Ginsburg herself, who I admire greatly.

While I love reading all of the great content out there about raising the next generation of women leaders, I see it from a different point of view. I do not have daughters; I am the proud momma of two sons. One of my boys is all grown up at 26, and the other is 13. Being a feminist and mom of only boys, I see the issue of feminism and preparing the next generation for it quite differently.

I have always viewed my responsibility as a parent to teach my boys how to love, appreciate and seek out strong women without losing their identity as strong men.

I am as feminist as they get, having not changed my name when married, having always been intensely career-driven and not being able to cook anything that didn’t end in “Boyardee” when I first met my husband. Equality has always been an absolute requirement for me, and I don’t apologize for it. I made it very clear who I was and what I could offer to my husband, and it definitely wasn’t domestic bliss. I was very forthcoming that I didn’t make food but I was excellent at making dinner plans and reservations. Thank goodness he was secure enough to see that I had more to offer than the typical wifely stuff. It’s one of the many things I love about him.

Contrary to popular and misguided beliefs about feminists, my position did not make me seek out men I perceived as weak or unmanly. I have always liked strong men. For example of my favorite traits of what I see as a strong man is being a gentleman opening the door for me.

So, as a feminist mom, my goal has always been to show my boys that a feminist does not mean someone who hates men or wants to overpower them. In my eyes, a feminist is a woman who simply wants to be treated equally in every way. We want equal pay for equal work and we want the opportunities that men have always taken for granted. We want men to be respectful and not assume they have any rights to us or our bodies regardless of the way we dress or seem to them. Again, this doesn’t mean I walk around with everything hanging out. It just means if I do, you don’t get to do squat diddly about it unless I expressly give my consent. Pretty simple.

Here are a few of the things I focus on teaching my boys about loving and respecting feminist women.

Encourage them to be gentlemen.

Everyone loves a gentleman, especially me. Being a feminist doesn’t make me unappreciative of a gentleman. Some feminists may disagree, but I still find a strong man who is gentle and giving to be one of the most admirable qualities. When a door is opened for you, you simply appreciate it. My boys know they should open a door for a lady. It is also a big part of our Hispanic culture, and it’s something I strongly believe they should do.

Teach them that cooking and cleaning is not women’s work.

Not every feminist hates cooking like I do. My boys may fall in love with someone who loves to cook. Heck, I even learned how to cook and can now make some amazingly yummy meals. I learned to cook, even though I don’t particularly enjoy it much, and that’s OK. I also know that many men love to cook too. Again, there is nothing nicer than to have someone cook you a meal, and it doesn’t matter who does it.

When I was a kid I had to learn to do laundry but my brother did not. He was taught to mow the lawn and do “manly” things. I didn’t want to be helpless and always rely on a man for stuff so I had to teach myself how to change a tire and build things. My view is that these skills should be learned by all. My boys know how to do laundry, scrub a toilet and change a tire. The cooking, the cleaning, and the fixing are all basic life skills that we should teach all kids.

Prepare them for all career options.

Loving a feminist may mean that your career or earning potential may not be higher that your partner’s. It can also mean that you and your wife decide that she will stay at home to care for the house, the kids and anything else that needs attention. Or the reverse may be true and you decide that it is best that the husband stays home. Or you may choose to both follow a career path and figure things out along the way. We chose to prepare our boys to follow a career path of their choosing so that when the time comes, they have all choices open to them.

Show them how to debate respectfully.

Our home has been the host of many a debate about feminism among other things. We love to talk about politics, psychology, sociology, current events, pop culture, you name it. Both sons and husband have differing views on what they think feminism is. They are always bringing up all of the different views they encounter and we discuss each of our takes. Sometimes we agree and others we don’t.

For example, our family loves baseball. Naturally, we have talked a lot about whether there will ever be a female major league baseball player. They stand firm that there will never be one. I say that there may some day, but she would have to be a physical anomaly. You see, I realize women and men are built differently. The muscle mass is different. A woman’s body is made for growing and birthing children. That doesn’t mean that it is our sole purpose or should be the goal of every woman. It’s just the reality of how we are built. As of today I haven’t heard of a woman who can pitch a 95 mile-per-hour ball. I may want a woman to be an MLB player, but I am also realistic.

Teach them through your marriage

My husband is a big manly man. In fact, when we were dating he even beat the living crud out of a guy who was threatening me at a club, even though I was ready to scrap it out and probably get a beat down. He doesn’t bow down to my strong will or character. He challenges me as I do him. My boys see this. They don’t see a mom who controls their dad. They don’t see a man “putting his foot down” either. They see two people who are strong and supportive. We have each taken turns supporting each others’ careers and business ventures. They see a mom who now bakes cookies and can build a shelf. They see a dad who can change an alternator and clean a bathtub.

I would be lying if I left out the fact that navigating our roles and figuring out who does what has been a struggle at times, like in any house. However, in our home, it is known that no one person is responsible for handling all domestic duties alone. That has been up to me to teach all my men. I could choose to be angry about having to teach what I see as common sense, but that would be counterproductive, and I want results.

The point here is that a feminist isn’t always a woman who wants to control men and take away their “man card” as many are led to believe. It simply means that we want the opportunity to CHOOSE what we want to do with our lives. It means we want respect without excuses. When men are taught to not be threatened by that and actually appreciate it, great things happen.

Post Author: Danay Escanaverino

Danay Escanaverino is a Latina entrepreneur, mom, avid traveler, tech geek, history buff, blogger and ADHD poster child She is CEO of LunaSol Media and Founder of HispanicYa! Follow her on Google+ , Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat

28 thoughts on “Raising Feminist Loving Men

    Fabiola Rodriguez

    (November 13, 2016 - 12:42 pm)

    I’m also a mother of two boys, and raising them to be respectful of women has always been a priority. I’ve taught my 18-year-old son to clean up his own mess, do his own laundry, and do his own dishes (we’re still working on him learning to cook his own meals, though). I’m teaching my 8-year-old son to do the same. What I think is also important is to talk to them openly about abuse and harassment of women, and how it is wrong. Because even if they never learn to hold the door open for a woman (I don’t know why they just never remember to do this!!) they will know that any sort of demeaning comment or behavior towards women is wrong. And hopefully they’ll stand up for what’s right.

    Heather

    (November 13, 2016 - 12:44 pm)

    Love your views! It definitely is important to raise young men to respect, honor & support strong women.

    Barrie Bismark

    (November 13, 2016 - 3:15 pm)

    “It simply means that we want the opportunity to CHOOSE what we want to do with our lives. It means we want respect without excuses. When men are taught to not be threatened by that and actually appreciate it, great things happen.” Love this quote. So true.

    Marissa

    (November 13, 2016 - 4:14 pm)

    I also strongly identify as a feminist and agree with many of your points. I’m also a mom if boys and one thing ice recently focused on with my oldest is “mansplaining.” For someone his age, he’s 7, that amounts to him realizing that he might not know more about something than someone else does, and to listen more than he speaks. I figure if he starts now, he’ll interact respectfully with women later.

      Danay Escanaverino

      (November 13, 2016 - 4:32 pm)

      Love it! I’m going to have to integrate some “mansplaining” training too.

    Veronica

    (November 16, 2016 - 11:19 am)

    You are right, we need to prepare our male children to respect and support their future wife’s and life partners. There is so much to do in this matter and it is up to us, women, to educate to prevent potential misogynists.

    Erika Grediaga

    (November 16, 2016 - 11:43 am)

    Great article! I also firmly believe on teaching by example. In my case I have both challenges: raising a girl and a boy. What I’ve found is that nowadays there’s a sort of double-standard of education and behavior expected of little boys: girls can wear pants and be Luke Skywalker without anyone batting an eye… but if a little guy wants to dress as Elsa of Frozen… not so easy. There’s a great book I read about the challenges of raising boys in this new era called “Swagger.” A very depressing but interesting read!

      Danay Escanaverino

      (November 16, 2016 - 11:45 am)

      That’s an excellent point Erika. I’m going to have to pick that book up.

    Sarah-Louise Bailey

    (December 19, 2016 - 11:15 am)

    I believe that our home is our first school where we have learned our first everything. Our mom is our first teacher and both our dad and mom is our role model. Involvement of a father or a positive male role model has profound effects on children. So when they see their dad doing the right way to treat and respect a woman, 90% of its children will do exactly the right thing they see on their father.

    tara pittman

    (December 19, 2016 - 12:43 pm)

    I have 4 boys and they are being raised to respect all women. They help out with laundry, cooking and other chores.

    Melanie Smith

    (December 19, 2016 - 6:09 pm)

    Awwww, I love it! I have a son who is a gentleman and I’m so proud of that.

    Chloe

    (December 19, 2016 - 7:50 pm)

    This is perfect for all mums raising little boys. It is so important to learn respect and equal rights from a young age.

    Amy Jones

    (December 19, 2016 - 11:20 pm)

    Feminism is such an important issue that we need to teach the future generations correctly, so everyone can have a better and equal life. I’m all up for this!

    Amber Myers

    (December 20, 2016 - 12:49 am)

    This is great. I have one son and I’m teaching him to always be respectful. I also am working on teaching him to cook and clean better. Right now he’s not the best at it, but he’s a teenager, so..

    Christian Melanie Lee

    (December 20, 2016 - 1:24 am)

    Very inspiring article. I was separated with my dad for the past 20 years. And a lot of people didn’t know that I’m not being raise by my dad when he and my mom decided that their relationship is not the ideal marriage.

    Emma white

    (December 20, 2016 - 6:20 am)

    I have a teenage boy and 2 younger boys and I also make sure they respect women. Me and there dad try our hardest to set an example of how things should be. X

    Ana De- Jesus

    (December 20, 2016 - 7:22 am)

    So pleased that you are raising awareness about feminism, we feminists tend to get a bad name and I like you want equality for all genders. I am glad you are teaching your boys too.

    Elizabeth O.

    (December 20, 2016 - 9:11 am)

    I have no experience with raising bous but I have to agree, we need to teach them how to treat a woman and what kind of woman to look for. I am all about equality as well, and it’s nice to see strong boys being raised by strong women.

    Wren

    (December 20, 2016 - 10:27 am)

    This is an excellent post! If I had a son (maybe someday) these are all traits I want him to grow up to have. I have two daughters and I am raising them to be whatever they want to be. This past year has brought a lot of changes in our home with both parents working from home… tough transition. They are seeing that now that both parents are around and one is not working 60+ hours outside the home that all chores are divided up equally. My daughters learn from the example we set, not the things we say. No matter the choices they make as adults I just want them to be happy and free to be themselves. … and not little A-holes. 🙂

    Debra @ Traveling Well For Less

    (December 20, 2016 - 12:09 pm)

    You’ve made great points. We really need to raise our boys to respect women. I’m proud that my oldest son is a feminist.

    Debbie-jean Lemonte

    (December 20, 2016 - 3:09 pm)

    Yes yes yes! I love your points. I’ve always been an advocate of teaching through actions. Children act out mostly what they see, so teaching through your own actions/marriage is a great example.

    Coralie

    (December 20, 2016 - 3:36 pm)

    These are all great points. It is important to teach our kids respect – boys for girls and girls for boys. Equal respect for everyone. Understand each others opinions even if you don’t agree with them and respect that you can have different points of view and still get along.

    Vera Sweeney

    (December 20, 2016 - 5:29 pm)

    I have two boys and love this!! So important to show them how important it is to be able to do everything and how to treat women.

    Robin Rue

    (December 20, 2016 - 5:51 pm)

    You have so many great points here. Teaching your kids at home first is a big step.

    Dawn Gibson-Thigpen

    (December 21, 2016 - 12:07 pm)

    my mom and stepmom raised both my brothers on their own and this was always very important to both of them. this is a great read. love your viewpoint. thanks for sharing.

    Misty Dawn Nelson

    (December 22, 2016 - 1:39 am)

    What a good post and a perfect point, I have two boys and my husband would always teach them how to be gentleman

      Danay Escanaverino

      (December 22, 2016 - 3:07 pm)

      So glad to hear that Misty! I really do believe it’s up to us moms.

    Wanderlust Vegans

    (January 9, 2017 - 4:51 pm)

    It’s good to see you setting such a positive example for your boys and sharing your views so that others might do the same. I think people are often afraid of feminism because of the man hating stereotype so it’s great your article debunked that image.

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