One of the best things and worst things about parenting is how freaking humbling it is. Take for example, my dismay when I realized I, the feminist blogger, am a raging sexist when it comes to parenting my children: The kitchen light turned into a single bright bulb and my beautiful daughter, an angry interrogator. She pointed out that I was nothing but a sexist because my rules for her were different from her brother’s. I had nothing other than a library of Dateline horror stories and images of dead girls to back me up. I had nothing other than knowing in my gut that though both young men and young women are preyed upon, women are preyed upon some huge percentage more. So I sought some validation:
RAINN – Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network, reports that 1 in every 6 American women is the victim of attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. Contrasted with 1 in 33 men.
And there’s more, there are the rape cases of young women Hayley has been writing about, and responses condoning the violence, blaming the victims and refusal to punish the perpetrators. We are living in a Rape Culture.
I am more lenient with my son than I am with my daughter. There is no way I can rationalize my sexism away. I am not only parenting them differently because they are different people, though there is a touch of that; their particular make up as humans, ease with risk, or taste for the illegal. But my rules are not solely based on personality differences and void of gender bias. In fact, the biggest factor for difference in my parenting is gender.
“And it’s even worse! You call yourself a feminist!” My daughter, again, correctly made a potential point. But I don’t think being a feminist means I have sacrifice reality for equality. I said that, or something like that.
“You’re a hypocrite and a sexist.” Her final excellent points.
“I know. I agree.” I told her, I agreed.
But I’m not willing to sacrifice her safety to make a point about how things should be or how I wish they were.
Still, I keep thinking about our conversation and the conflict, the radical feminist and the fearful mother, and how she is one in the same.