My beautiful son, my first and only (so far) child, is three.
He is too young to understand the current political climate or the fact that one year ago our country elected a man who wore his sexist comments, allegations of groping women, and desire to divide like badges of honor.
Too young to know the meaning of words and phrases like “misogyny,” “reproductive rights,” “hypocrisy,” and “consent.”
He lives a charmed life, although he does not think about it as he gasps for breath while his daddy tickles him or when he chases the family dog through the house.
There is always food on the table, even though he chooses to eat only a tenth of it (the joys of raising a picky eater).
He has plenty of clothes, more toys than he could possibly play with at once, two sets of caring and doting grandparents, a hard-working and loyal father (who does far more than his fair share of parenting), and so many things for which he will one day be grateful.
My son is lucky.
He is why so many women (and men) — from all walks of life, ethnicities, and demographics — marched in Washington and across the country last January. He is our future, and because he will one day work alongside women and vote for our next leaders (maybe one of his female playmates will be our first woman president), I will ensure that he is raised as a feminist.
Although I am far from wealthy, I am a woman of privilege.
My mother stayed at home with me until I was in high school. My father filled the traditional role of “breadwinner” while ensuring my mom and I were well cared for. My education was paid for, and I still have my parents’ support in so many ways.
I’ve never known what it’s like to have an absent or drug-addicted parent.
I’ve never hidden inside the closet to avoid the punches of an abusive partner.
I’ve never stolen bread or pawned my precious belongings so I could put food on my son’s plate.
I’ve never been scared and alone and lost because of an unplanned pregnancy or sexual assault.
I’ve never lost a promotion because a man was simply there to do the job instead.
I’ve never personally been told I am not good enough because I am a woman, and if I ever am, I will fight with fire and passion against whoever treats me as a second-class citizen.
And I will raise my son to do the same — to fight against misogyny and discrimination and to support the many bold and generous women in his life.
I will teach him to hold doors (after all, we live in the South) rather than close them.
I will teach him to choose his playmates — and later, his study partners and teammates — for their character, not for their gender.
I will teach him to compliment a girl on her beauty when appropriate — plenty of us enjoy being told we’re beautiful in the right moment, after all — but also on her intelligence, her character, her strength, and her wit.
I will teach him that emotions do not make you weak, but they are part of being human and should be shared instead of locked inside.
I will teach him that it is never okay to lay his hands on a woman — unless it is with gentleness and, first and foremost, her consent.
I will teach him, through my own job and career, that women contribute to their families and bring value to the table.
I will teach him that he has autonomy over his body, and a woman has autonomy over hers.
I will teach him that, yes, boys and girls, men and women, are different, but that we are equals and partners throughout life.
Above all, I will teach him three essential things: empathy, love, and respect.
I have no idea who my son will be 5 years, 10 years, or 25 years from now, but I do know that my husband and I will have a hand at shaping him to be the man he will become.
And that is why I will dig deep within myself to show strength, compassion, empathy, and willingness to protect the women of the world who don’t enjoy the privileges and comforts that I do.
I will raise my son to be a feminist — because, even in 2017, we desperately need them in our world.
Catherine is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty on Tap. To apply to become a contributing writer, please click here.
Feature image via Unsplash.