I recently read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's response to a friend who was asking for advice on how to raise her newborn daughter to be a feminist, Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions. As the mother of a young son and a feminist myself, I thought it was an excellent list of things to aspire to do as a parent (and a good reminder of things I need to be better about personally). Here are her fifteen suggestions, Cliffs- Notes style:
1. Be a full person: We are not just mothers and our kids need to see us have careers, if we so wish, and take an interest in things that are separate from them.
2. Do it together: Involve the fathers as much as possible in domestic responsibilities- share the load. And don't see it as them doing you a favor!
3. The idea of 'gender roles' is nonsense: Buy your daughter tools. Buy your son dolls. And don't make a big deal out of it- kids like what they like.
4. Beware if 'Feminism Lite': Men don't let us be in charge.
5. Teach your child to read: Whatever you do, try to instill a love of reading in your child- it teaches knowledge, empathy, and perspective.
6. Question language: Be wary of labels, instead teach content.
7. Marriage is not an achievement: This should never be something girls strive for.
8. Reject likeability: It is not our job as women to make others like us just because we are women (pats self on back for deleting tangential comments on the 2016 election...).
9. Give a sense of identity: Who are you? Why?
10. Be a role model when it comes to appearances: We aren't how we dress, but we should still respect our bodies and value ourselves when making choices about clothing.
11. Question use of biology for cultural norms: Social norms come from humans, not science.
12. Be honest about sex: It may be awkward, but do it early so that shame doesn't infiltrate the conversation or thought-process.
13. Romance is inevitable: It needs to be fair and safe.
14. Don't turn the oppressed into saints: Everyone deserves dignity, even the oppressors. And just because someone is oppressed doesn't mean they are perfect.
15. Teach difference: Difference should be normal and ordinary, not necessarily of value.