THAT ONE TIME MY BEST FRIEND'S HUSBAND WOULDN'T LET HIS BABY WEAR A FEMINIST SHIRT


This is not how I expected this post to go at all.

Rewind to last week, me geeking out over onesies, hunched over my contact paper cutting out intricate baby sized letters with my exacto. Beaming with pride, because THIS project of mine was more genius than anything I've made before. I told everyone I knew about it... after all, who WOULDN'T want an adorable"This Is What a Feminist Looks Like" shirt for their newborn boy?

The answer? Lots of people.

So then I'm in Utah, showing my baby gifts to my bestie. I pulled out the vintage overalls, "Real Babies Wear Pink" shirts, tattooed sleeved outfits for infants, but I made sure to save the best for last. When I pulled out the feminism onesie she screeched with laughter, loving it every bit as much as me. Big ol' smile on my face. And then, the Mister came home. Let me preface with this first: I like him a lot. He is a goofy, mellow, kind hearted  non-conformist.  And they are SO happy together. So it stunned me when she showed him my creation and he asked "Feminist is which one? For or against women?" I played off my shock and explained that a Feminist believes in everyone having equal rights no matter their gender. I'm pretty sure I saw it waft right over his head. Later, he pointedly said to his wife: "I don't want pictures of our baby in that shirt on the internet..." Lets just pause for a moment, so I can hang my head and sigh.

Remember how I wrote about how important it is to both act AND educate? How you can't just do one or the other and expect change? Case in point right here. I live in a liberal city, and though we're surrounded by a conservative state it still catches me off guard when I realize that many (I think if you were to do the numbers it would be most) people just. Don't. Know. They don't know what feminism means. They don't know what Obama stands for. The majority don't even know what Romney stands for. They don't know about laws being passed. They don't know about the discrimination that hundreds of minorities face. They don't know about the imbalance of power that exists even at a county level. They don't know about prison protocol. They don't know about conception and termination. They don't know about historical facts vs. myths. They don't know what a mental illness actually is. They don't know more than one reason why a person might be fat. They don't know, they don't know, they don't fucking know.

I challenge you to make a conscious effort to educate those around you for the next month. This is incredibly tricky, because people tend to be terrified of what they don't know. A good starting point is making sure you choose the right audience. The angry Christians on a liberal fan page telling you to "go to hell" would most likely be an exhausting waste of your time. Same with the missionaries on Temple Square. Same with your Hells Angel boss. If you find those that are able to think on their own and are open to new things, even small changes like foods and trips, you might see more progress. Be diplomatic. The second irritation is apparent, people will switch into fight or flight mode which mutes every word you say. And try talking with someone, and not at them. What they have to say is important too. Ask them questions, listen to their answers, repeat back what they say, and build your conversation off of theirs. Often, they already know the answer; you just have to ask the right question. So, no, I probably won't sit the Mister down and explain the history of Women's rights to him. However, I will be honest in my conversations while here. Honest, as in, I'm not going to censor myself to reach his comfort levels. Sometimes, just to hear information in a non-threatening manner is enough to think about later. Sometimes reading facts is enough to think about later. Sometimes seeing yard signs is enough to think about later. Sometimes talking about it, and moving on peaceably is enough to think about later.


Initially, I wanted to present you with adorable pictures of Baby in his incredible outfit, telling the world that he believes in equality... but, yeah. Not in this lifetime. However, instead I have the opportunity to show Dad that "feminist" isn't a bad word after all. And maybe, if someday Dad catches on, then Mr. Baby will have the open minded childhood that I dream of for him.


We shall see.

18 comments

  1. I celebrate your restraint, patience and optimism -- three charachter traits that are more challenging than many. pkxo

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    1. Better yet -- "character" traits ; )

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  2. Well, I LOVE it!. I've been keen on making my kiddo a shirt that says "future feminist", but the few folks (the husband) I've told about my idea have scoffed. Whatever. My son is going to grow up knowing that it's a wonderful thing to surround yourself with strong women who know what they're worth.

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  3. Oh my days, your post could not have come at a more significant time for me. I've just returned from the pub with a colleague who believes women should be chained to the kitchen sink (her actual words), and that people from lower income backgrounds who have had to fight for their right to education should have that taken away from them because they may have got grades AAB rather than the AAA grades of a peer who was privately educated. I cried with frustration when I got home because it scares me that people are so against equality. Your post has encouraged me to keep trying, thank you x

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    1. Dear Anna, you are amazing. I know what it's like... I just know. Keep fighting;)


      (I wrote this a little bit ago... did you read it? You might like it... http://www.themilitantbaker.com/2012/09/why-i-fight.html)

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    2. Hello! I did read it and have experienced a very similar situation about a year and a half ago. In the UK we voted on changing the voting system, the new system would have been much fairer and we wouldn't be in the situation we're in now with a collation government (whose in fighting and laughable politics are making this country a wonderful place for the rich). The new system didn't pass sadly, at work the following day we were talking about it and a colleague said she had voted against it because she didn't understand the new system. I asked her if she had read up about it and she said no because she couldn't be bothered. I entirely appreciate the sentiment in your post when you say "everything that I try and do to chip away at the tragic state of the world is undone ten fold by those behind me" keep posting, keep fighting, I love your blog! xxx

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  4. That onesie is so adorable and creative... and I completely agree with the Dad's stance. The thing is, even if an adult is educated as can be on a particular issue, their infant still won't know the first thing about it. I think it's unfair to display one's baby as having any opinion beyond the taste of his own feet. Later he'll have plenty of time to be educated on feminism and human rights in general. He will form his own opinions and with any luck they will be enlightened and rooted in equality. But to dress him in these opinions before he's had the chance to develop them is a violation of his individuality. I will, of course, make a hypocrite of myself whenever I have kid by adorning him or her in my favorite band names and pop culture characters. I just think the Dad did the right thing.

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    1. Oh hey Ben:)

      So, I totally agree with your theory but feel like it doesn't apply to this situation. I agree when it comes to subjective beliefs... like religion. Kids aren't born with religion in their DNA... they are born INTO them and reinforced by their parents. I guess it would be the same with political stuff: pro/anti policy or presidential candidate shirts. Which is exactly what you are saying... and the exact reason why I disagree.

      The fact that "feminism" (aka. gender equality) is a controversial "political" topic blows my mind and pisses me off. Teaching a child to be a "feminist" is the same thing as teaching them to be tolerant of kids with developmental disabilities. Or to teach them to not steal from others. Or teaching them to pet animals gently. Or teaching them how to not differentiate worth by race. Or any other character traits that parents feel the need to teach children so they can be positive forces in the world. The only difference is that society has attached a negativity with the word "feminism" to the point where they are synonymous.

      Total bullshit.

      "This is what a feminist looks like" is only taboo because our society functions best(makes more dollars) when women are kept in "their place". And I for one think that the shock factor is ridiculous and the fact that he was worried about this shock factor only reinforces the brainwashing that is patriarchal society.

      I know my adamant beliefs come out forceful when I type, but the reason I think this issue of equality is black and white... is because it IS black and white. I don't blame the Dad at all... he is a product of inevitable conditioning like the rest of us. And I believe that people can (and will) teach their children whatever they want, but they should NEVER recoil when it comes to matters of kindness and acceptance.


      So that's that.

      I appreciate you commenting, and even disagreeing because though I know we live on the same page, its really nice to have differing information and views in life. Free speech for everyone!

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    2. Ugh. Now that I re-read this, though I said what I wanted to I kind of took of on a tangent.

      Its so frustrating that there is such glaring inequality in this world that forces me to become so obstinate. It's exhausting sometimes.

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  5. First let me say, awesome onesie!! Second, I want to be surprised by the dads reaction but I'm not. I worked as a birthday party entertaining for several years to make a few extra bucks. I dressed up as a fairy and did fairy themed birthday parties. I always brought boy and girl costumes just in case. Some girls don't like tutus and some boys want to do. Not my place to judge. It was the dads who always got freaked out when their sons would put on the wings or anything that was overtly "fairy princess." I remember one dad loudly declaring, "No son you're a helicopter!" and "Yes take a group picture but not with him in it dressed like that." I learned very quickly Dads no matter how liberal and open they say they are get really defensive when gender lines are blurred with their little boys. It's sad really.

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    1. Word. Its sad and fascinating all at the same time. AND, it makes me extra grateful to have a Him at home that supports me in what I believe. I think he would like his future boys to like football and UFC, but that doesn't mean they can believe in equality at the same time. I love him:)

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  6. I think your onesie rocks. Your part about they don't know, they don't know, they don't know...I totally get where you're coming from, which is why I moved out of Utah after only 6 months, I couldn't handle it. Worse than don't know is don't want to know. It's like people who buy into tea party/fox news propaganda without so much as a google search to see if any of it is true, let alone mulling it over in their own little brains. I dislike when people come out with their strong opinions that they can't back up and then they plug their ears and go "lalalalalala" when you try to converse about it. I think this is why I stay inside so much, I can't stand the willful ignorance.

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    1. Y'know, I grew up Mormon my whole life, and lived in Utah/Idaho for years... which is why I love it so. I LOVED the ignorance because I could come and escape from real world problems... but unfortunately, thats not the case anymore. I think its because I transitioned myself... I now know WHY there are homeless men and women and what the underlying causes are. I know why women feel bad about their bodies and the history behind it. I know why poverty exists, opportunity isn't equal, health care is insufficient, and children grow up hating others. I know all of the root causes and I no longer see passivity and ignorance as a enjoyable trait. I now see it as a cruel elitist way to live, only making problems in the world worse and I have no more patience for those content to do nothing.

      Its like hearing old Bill Haley and the Comets songs that you grew up listening to your whole life... and realizing that 90% of them are horrifically sexist to the point where it becomes emotionally abusive. That just happened to me last weekend. Tragic.

      Ignorance IS bliss. Its HARD to harness so much knowledge. And while I think Utah is just GORGEOUS, and I love my friend who lives here THE most... I just can't admire the hateful disregard anymore. This is the time where not doing anything is akin to a hate crime, for me.

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  7. those are some really good tips. i find myself getting irritated when someone has the "wrong opinion" and giving up or getting defensive instead of listening and having a calm discussion.
    and if i have a baby it will have a onesie like that. adorable! and i know my husband will "allow" it because he has worn a shirt like that too. :)

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  8. My man is a proud feminist, and if we ever had kids, I would absolutely put my kid in that! But you're right....people enjoy willful ignorance to an absurd (and frightening) degree. I hope that changes in our lifetimes, I really do, but I have yet to open any minds by taking to people. Usually, they have to experience discrimination on some level to begin to understand what the world is for most of us.

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    1. You are absolutely right:) It always hits home when it happens to you:) I know that I have changed my thinking patterns (I used to live "the life" myself) because of seeds planted by people over time. There wasn't ever ONE person that showed me the light... er, darkness? So, I hold hope that something I say will touch someone else. And I know from emails, that that is occasionally true here.

      And, total hypocrite that I can be, one of my guilty pleasures is egging racists/homophobes/fat haters/zealots on through a facebook thread where i compose an eloquent paragraph of shit talk and post it to raise their blood pressure.

      I indulge only once in a while, and really should stop. Not because it's pointless (which it is;)) but because it raises my blood pressure too:)

      Oops.

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  9. my son or daughter will where one of these!!! I think everyone should. Brilliant and lovely. Just like you.

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  10. I absolutely love this post. However, I don't love that yet another person is uneducated about feminism. I'm always trying to educate people about feminism, but I hate this feeling of having to "win people round", like it's not a fair concept. Like I'm trying to persuade them to get behind capital punishment. Hence my Feminist Friday every week, hoping that someone will say "ok! yes! i want in on this!" Personally, I love the baby-gro and I think it's hilarious :)

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