There is no manual to raising a child. There are no rules, no dummies guides, no instructions presented to you at the hospital when you give birth. This is because parenthood is one of the most individually beautiful practices known to mankind, in which we make our own choices and look to provide the best possible upbringing for our offspring.
However something I have seen a lot over social media recently, and something that I am often asked personally, is whether parents should introduce their children to feminism? My answer is yes they absolutely should. Feminism is a fight for gender parity, equality and freedom from oppression, all of which are fundamentals to a peaceful and equal society. I believe that it is vitally important for us as parents to enlighten our children of these values as they will go on to become the nucleus of the next generation. The principals we share today will form the key to tomorrow’s attitudes. We should teach our children to respect women and the core idea of gender equality – which ultimately and indirectly should see them grow to be a generation of feminists.
I thank god that more and more parents are adopting this approach and I believe that this, coupled with the emergence of the #MeToo movement, will see us come a long way to achieving equality. Over the past few years we have seen a meteoric rise in the coverage of gender issues in the media and much of this is to do with the #MeToo movement. What started as allegations against one film mogul last year went on to spread overnight and become the biggest movement of a generation. Thousands of women ranging from A-List celebrities to ordinary members of the public shared their stories on social media, which gave strength to women all over the world. I hope that this can also empower the youth of today to feel free and safe, but in order to do so they must be taught the importance of the idea of feminism.
What I hope to see is an additional onus on gender issues in the national curriculum including everything from domestic violence to the gender pay gap. We need to stop encouraging a ‘snowflake’ approach to the teaching of current affairs, and instead tackle the harsh realities that we face. Currently in schools there is a huge focus on historical events, but we need to see children being properly educated about issues affecting people today, such as the #MeToo movement. By doing so, they will be able to recognise and understand the wrongdoings towards women, and will be prepared to take the appropriate action.
Multiple studies show that girls in primary school already feel unable to speak freely because of their gender, and are railroaded into outdated and traditional roles by clichéd, gendered stereotypes imposed upon them by teachers. This could be as simple as the differing sports in PE for example, with girls and boys separated and pushed towards the sports deemed to be ‘suitable’ for their gender. Girls are always taught to take care of something or someone, whilst boys are taught to think strategically, build and be strong. Scientific research is now being released to highlight the perils of gender bias within schools, which sees more and more young girls refrain from studying subjects such as science, engineering and physics.
For this reason I believe it is just as much a responsibility of schools as it is parents to educate the next generation and strive towards a society of equality and empowerment where opportunity is available to all.
Similarly, as parents we have a duty to steer our children towards the right path and teach them the difference between right and wrong. Respect for the safety of women and the idea of equality should be shared with everyone in order to give the next generation the tools to build the best society possible when they grow up.
I strongly believe that the world will be saved by feminists so let’s raise them.