It was five years ago, on a cold winter morning, that we were visiting a relative in the heart of Delhi. Shiny brass nameplates in the apartment complex were gleaning with Mr….. Flat 302,  Mr …. Flat 303…., Mr… Flat 401,… and so on. Having grown up in cities with nameplates of Mr Sinha and Mr Pathak, the absence of another gender didn’t even strike me. This is despite working in the space of inclusion for over eight years, and having always been very sensitive to gender-specific topics.

Also Read: My Lessons On How To Raise A Feminist Son

But it was my young, 11-year-old son who brought it to my notice. ‘Mamma, aren’t there women in the house? It’s so strange the nameplates carry the names of the men only.’

A sense of pride brought a smile to my face. My son was observant to his environment. He notices inequality. He raises questions.

For a mother who has always taken “Feminist” as a tag of pride, this was the icing on the cake.

My family has very few children and they are all boys. The elders, although progressing with time, still have conscious and unconscious biases. It’s very easy for the young boys in the family to catch these biases and make them a part of yet another generation. However, my conscious sensitivity to the issue has made everyone in my family and friend circle extremely cautious about gender-related conversations.

A sense of pride brought a smile to my face. My son was observant to his environment. He notices inequality. He raises questions.

Raising a son who is feminist (believes in equal rights and opportunities for women) is like raising a son who believes in humanity. Respecting women as individuals, acknowledging their identity, being a part of their journey, making them part of his journey.

Also Read: 5 Reasons Why Children Need Feminist Fathers

Neo, (that’s my son) has always been sensitive towards my needs, my aspirations, my goals, my individuality. Same goes for my husband. Neo is equally sensitive towards his father. This means there is no extra pressure or expectation of so-called ‘motherly duties’. We have a parental responsibility and not motherly and fatherly duties. This has given me freedom, which I always aspired to have, and a guilt-free, bindaas motherhood.

We have a parental responsibility and not motherly and fatherly duties. This has given me freedom, which I always aspired to have, and a guilt-free, bindaas motherhood.

We talk about history; we talk about how history has ignored women because most of it was penned by men. We talk about how history lacks gender perspective. And today, when women are playing a crucial role in shaping history, he is observing it, he is noticing it. He is talking about it. There is a balanced perspective shaping him.

We read about crimes against women. Past and current. I see the pain and angst in his eyes whenever there is assault and crime against women. He is growing up to be a man who respects the ‘no’; who would stand up for a woman; who abhors sexist jokes; who can take a stand irrespective of who the stakeholders are.

Popular culture, music, movies are always a barrier in raising a gender sensitive child. Just pick up a Honey Singh song playing in cars, homes, clubs. The child refuses to play a Honey Singh song, points it out when he hears it at someone’s house. Even as a kid, he would pick up the stereotyped gender roles shown in many advertisements and voice out his opinion. Today when he writes his narrative, his stories, his essays, he is mindful of the stereotypes and biases. Tomorrow he would be mentoring those who are younger to him and hopefully would be able to groom a generation without gender stereotypes and biases.

Today when he writes his narrative, his stories, his essays, he is mindful of the stereotypes and biases.

Raising a child who is born with inherent privileges is not always easy. You want to shelter them from the harsh truths of the world, justify that they are born free from the burden of those that came before them. But the unfortunate truth is that we live in a world that treats people differently.

Helping my son recognize his privilege is an important tool in helping him learn how to use it, to voice things he has a platform to voice when others may not. It is not about guilt-tripping him – rather, it is about making him aware of the tools at his disposal so he can effectively use them.

People speak about equity, equality, and egalitarianism as if they were all interchangeable. But my job as his parent is not for him to simply strive for equality, but also to actively work towards achieving it.

Helping my son recognize his privilege is an important tool in helping him learn how to use it, to voice things he has a platform to voice when others may not.

It’s 2020, and sexism is everywhere. Stopping it is my job. His job. The older he grows, the wider he spreads his wings, the more reach he will have. I want to make sure that when he takes flight, he can help others fly with him and seek help when he needs help. It is equal parts of making him sensitive to others, but also recognizing that he is allowed to be sensitive to himself (qualities often looked down in men and boys).

Also Read: Raising A Feminist Son: How It Matters, And Why We Need To Start Now

I am raising my son to be a good human being instead of “raising a man”. The two should be synonymous. I have faith that he will turn into an amazing person – he already is. And he is an excellent young man, because he is a feminist.

The views expressed are the author’s own.

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