Once upon a time, when I was still a child-free individual, I had this vision of what it would be like to raise a little girl, a fierce little feminist. It was going to be so awesome- she wasn't going to take shit from anyone, and she was going to wear whatever the hell she wanted (pink and sparkly or blue and covered in trucks and footballs) while doing whatever the hell she wanted (playing house or playing helicopter pilot), and be a strong and smart and confident and did I mention not taking any shit?
Other people bought into this vision, as well- like without me even bringing it up in the first place. I heard from more than source, "Oh my god you'd be such an amazing mother to a little girl!"
But I didn't have a little girl.
At first I found myself puzzled- what the hell do I know about raising a little boy? But then I reminded myself that strictly speaking, what I "know about" is being a little girl, not actually raising one, and thus I was starting in the same place regardless of sex. Except that I hadn't really put any thought into raising a boy. So I put some thought into it, and the immediate thought I had was,
"Don't raise a rapist!"
This is the quip I trot out for laughs when talking to people about my child-rearing goals, but it's also not really a joke at all. And honestly, it's a damn short step from "Don't raise a rapist!" to "Raise a feminist!" which works just as well for a boy as a girl. After all, raising up a feminist girl is, frankly, easy, if for no other reason than all you have to do to get them to buy into it is look around at how awfully they get treated by the world. Raising up a feminist boy, on the other hand? A boy who will enjoy undeniable privilege due to the accident of his chromosomes, to the point where he might not naturally pick up on the fact that the patriarchy is screwing pretty much everyone over? Well, that's a whole 'nother kettle of fish. But "easy" is for suckers, and so I say, fish accepted! No wait, I mean challenge. Challenge accepted!
Which means that all that stuff I was going to do for my kick-ass daughter? I'm doing it for my kick-ass son. Because that is hard-core the spirit of feminism. I'll point out inequalities, and talk to him about what he can do to make the world less shitty for him and everyone else. That he doesn't have to be limited by society's expectations of him, and that if he does something coded as "feminine" it doesn't make him inferior, and more than him doing something coded as "masculine" makes him superior. That he should use his privilege to give a hand up to those who could use it, because that's what real men do. Real men behave like decent human beings.
And they don't rape people.