Let’s make something very clear. You can be both a man and a feminist.

I was in the car the other day with the radio on. I was only half listening to the talk back that was happening between the two male and one female radio presenters. Until they started discussing the “Me Too” movement. The international movement against sexual harassment and assault against women.

The male radio presenters were joking about the movement. One said that it had gotten to a point where he wouldn’t even stop to save a woman dying on the side of the road by giving her CPR in case she claimed “Me Too”. The other two presenters laughed. They moved on to discussing other irrelevant things.

The fact that these presenters were so carelessly making light of the many brave women who were finally standing up to the institutionalised rape, sexual harassment and assault of women, just boiled my blood. They were doing so on a platform listened to by millions of Australians. At a time of the afternoon where parents would have their children in the car after picking them up from school. Unapologetically making light of what is the widespread sexual violence against women that has been perpetrated.

I am the mother to a boy. A bright and beautiful little toddler, still completely innocent. I want to raise him to be happy, confident and secure. I also want to raise him to be a feminist.

I never want my son to hear jokes like the ones the radio presenters were making, and think they are okay. Or even worse, not even notice them, because attitudes like this is just the norm. I wonder how many people listening to this joke did not notice how tasteless and terrible it was. Just another joke about women. Another form of discrimination and harassment.

The comments of the presenters were not an isolated or uncommon event. Even the other night while I was watching an episode of Survivor, the male contestant Zach made this remark after being asked if a woman could ever beat him in a challenge

“If it’s physical strength? Girl, no chance. But if we’re looking at, like, a dishwashing challenge? I might be in trouble.”

Disgusting right?

As women, we are so used to being marginalised in so many ways, we ourselves do not even always notice it.

I myself have been discriminated against as a woman and mother still in childbearing years trying to return to the workforce. You can read more about this experience here. So many strong  women I know have been subject to, or knows another woman, who has been subject to some form of sexual harassment or discrimination. Either overtly violent or more subtle.

As a result of the “Me Too” and the “Time’s Up” campaigns, there is finally a platform in which we can band together and make a difference. So that our children will not grow up with these same ingrained discriminations.

Being a feminist does not equate to only being female.

I asked my husband a short time ago whether he considered himself a feminist. He unequivocally said yes. Without even having to think about it. He believes in the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. As do I. As should everyone. Feminism should not be a scary word. Men should not equate being a feminist with being less masculine. You can be feminist and a man. I want my son to be a feminist.

So how am I going to raise my son to be a feminist?

I will start by telling him from a very young age that women and men are equal. By showing him that both his parents are capable of doing the same tasks, achieving the same goals and deserving of having the same rights. I will not let him get away with making a careless joke or remark that can be misconstrued as sexist.

I will push my son to stand up for the rights of the women in his life. By pointing out when silly radio presenters make tasteless jokes that they are wrong. I will reward and recognise him for being kind and helpful, not just athletic and intelligent, as men traditionally are. But most of all, I will not let him take for granted that just because he is a male, he is any more deserving, strong or powerful than his female counterparts.

It is my hope that in my son’s generation, women and men will be politically, economically, personally and socially equal. It is up to us as parents to instil the values of feminism into our children. Especially our boys. Time’s up.

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Love Sally

P.S. If you enjoyed reading this article you may also like to read Confessions from a Stay at Home Mum

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