Thursday, March 8, 2012

To My Sons on International Women's Day

Dear, dear boys,

It's International Women's Day, so it would seem to make sense that I would write to your sisters today. But when have I ever done what makes sense?

No, my sons, I'm writing to you because you will be the ones with the power and privilege and you need to know how to use that to make the world better for your sisters and for all of the women that you meet.

You both already have such tender hearts and I love you for that. It makes me proud that you recognize the humanity in the people that you interact with. I wish you'd keep your room cleaner, but this is pretty good too.

Some day soon, you're going to hear another boy in your class say mean things about a girl. Not because she was mean first, but just because she's a girl. And you're going to have to make a decision about how to respond.

You can join in, you can be quiet, or you can ask them to stop. That last one is hard to do. Standing up to your peers can be scary and can leave you in the place where you will be teased or called names as well. I really do get that.

But you have more strength than you know. When you stand up for girls, you are helping other boys make that choice. It might take a while for you (and them) to see that, but it's what you're doing. You're paving the way for others to stand up against negativity when they see it. You're allowing them to know that they don't have to be negative themselves.

As you get older, people are going to tell you that men and women are already treated equally and that feminism isn't something that you need to concern yourself with, especially as a man. In a lot of ways, we are seeing equality. And I hope that as you're older, that will be even more the case.

But when you happen upon inequality, I hope that you'll notice. If you don't notice on your own (and it's okay if you don't - we can't all see everything), I hope that you'll pay attention if someone points it out to you. And I hope that you'll do what you can to change it. It might be something small, it might be something big. Know that making the effort is far more important than the size of the effort.

I know that being 8 and 11 year old boys, you're not thinking about what today means. That's okay. Enjoy what you love. Play Minecraft and Zelda. Run around outside. Stay up too late talking in bed. Be boys.

And when the time comes, remember your power and use it well.

All my love, Mom

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