Living in a world where misogynists walk around as if they own the world is pretty tough, especially for me. Yes, I’m a feminist. That’s why I promote and fight for gender equity, every chance I get — especially in parenthood.
Parenthood is already a challenge, but it comes with many cuddles. As a single mom, however, raising a little boy puts me in a tricky position.
How do I raise a little boy in a way that will help him understand the true essence of gender equity?
Gender Equity vs. Gender Equality
There’s a difference between equity and equality. Gender equality is about women’s rights and men’s rights not depending on whether we were born into this world as male or female. Gender equity, on the other hand, is the fair treatment of both genders based on respective needs.
Equity is about rectifying gender biases; without fair treatment of men and women, there can be no equality between genders.
It seems too much to explain to a one-year-old boy. But that will not stop me from trying.
The True Essence of Respect
The first lesson that I am teaching my son is to respect everyone. Be it his uncle, his cousin, or his grandparents. I want him to realize at an early age that everybody deserves respect.
It’s not about kissing the hands of the elderly or using “po” and “opo” in his sentences. I want him to learn that everything he does needs to be rooted in respect, and it has nothing to do with gender.
He needs to learn that doing something for a person, say holding a door open for a woman, is done out of respect.
Men are not required to do things for women because we can do things ourselves. But if they do it, it shouldn’t be because society expects it of them. It should be because they’re kind and respectful.
Kindness: A Crucial Trait
Being kind to everyone – this is the second thing that I want my son to understand. Empathy, the ability to understand the feelings of others from their point of view (not ours), is something that I want him to develop as he grows up.
Why did I say it’s crucial? It’s a trait that is often neglected all because sometimes, most people abuse the kind ones. I sometimes hesitate to be generous or courteous now since some people tend to take advantage of it.
But kindness remains necessary.
I want my little boy to grasp the concept that if he offers his seat to another person, it’s not because he’s a boy, but because he’s kind enough to sacrifice for the person standing up. I want him to treat everyone with the same level of kindness.
Fair Treatment: What Does It Mean?
Whether we admit it or not, society teaches girls to be perfect – sweet, dainty, smart, and pretty. Meanwhile, we teach boys to be rough and tough – strong risk-takers.There are certain expectations from each gender.
Kids need to learn that all people deserve fair treatment according to what they need. Children need to grow up in a world where both males and females, regardless of their sexual orientation, have equal opportunities and enjoy equal benefits.
All these, I hope, would help my little boy grow up to be the man I want him to be: a good person.
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Jean is a 23-year-old single parent who grew up in Pampanga. As a feminist, she fights against misogyny and misandry one day at a time.