feminism, politics, female involvement, getting involved, campaigning, feminism, teaching kids young

Politics will Up Your Feminist Game

One of the pillars of feminism is having your voice heard. But you don’t always need to be marching, shouting, picketing or protesting in order to be acknowledged. Indeed, one of the best ways to be heard is by getting involved in politics.

I discovered the importance to exposing my young teen girls to politics over the weekend when we attended an event hosted by the Oregon Women’s Campaign School. It was basic, inviting and most of all inspiring. Check it out:

 

Introducing them to politics this young hadn’t crossed my mind as being important in my quest to raise strong girls. I hadn’t even considered it as an option, until this event.

Why? Well, to be honest, politics are intimidating. It’s easy, regardless of your gender, to shy away from getting involved because we often think there is someone else more suitable for the job. We don’t feel like we have enough information or worse, we don’t know how to even get started, who to talk to, what to do, where to go–so that we can get involved. We think we missed the memo and so it’s best to hand it off to “the experts”. I only say this because I, too have been treating politics like a spectator sport. Instead of just getting the information, I wrote it off as being too time consuming to wrap my head around. So I’m calling myself out on it and being more intentional about communicating to my kids that these political “experts” don’t have guidance without your involvement. And that you have what it takes to jump in the ring with them and affect change.

feminism, politics, female involvement, getting involved, campaigning, feminism, teaching kids young

This event was the perfect introduction to unlocking a world of possibility: Getting involved is empowerment. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know much about political issues or who’s who in your local, state, national offices. There is always time to learn, to figure out where you stand and begin to formulate your own opinions and ideas, to find out who’s in power that shares those same values and then get out there together and make some noise.

Because if you want to see change, you gotta roll up your sleeves, learn how to do this and take responsibility for building a strong community.

Who better than a bunch of lively little girls to take the lead on that?

We Can Do It,

So-Called Mom

 

body positive, name calling, fat, ugly, annoying, self worth, self esteem, raising girls, young girls,

The Power of Words

You’re fat, ugly and annoying.

Those are powerful words that can easily last a lifetime. And not just this, but these are words that get passed down through a long cycle of hurt–from decades of name calling that has become normalized as part of a girl growing up.

I decided to interview 9 year old Pascal to see what her take was on name calling.

 

Girls learn from an early age not to work together to feel empowered and boost each other to love themselves and be exactly who they are. They are encouraged to suffer through comparison, name calling and shame. Hurtful words are more than powerful. They are formulaic: The perfect combination creates eating disorders, massive self esteem issues and maybe even raises young women to seek abusive relationships.

body positive, name calling, fat, ugly, annoying, self worth, self esteem, raising girls, young girls,

But when we hold the weight of harmful words at an arms length and consider the source, we discover the power we have within ourselves to break the cycle. When we view cutting phrases generically and decide up front not to attach them to who we are–the deep and complex (however social) beings that we are, we can stop their effects from even breaking the surface of our soul. Because the source of such painful statements, comes from pain itself. It’s like a virus that is passed from girl to girl, boy to girl, girl to boy, man, woman, generation to generation. We have the power to say: No. This stops with me.

You are beautiful and unique and really fabulous, so says Pascal. Please take her word for it. She seems to know what she’s talking about.

So-Called Mom

independence, strong girls, feminism

Strong Girls are Independent Girls

One characteristic of strength is being independent. When we learn to rely on ourselves only, we obtain absolute power to make choices–to live with freedom and responsibility. With this comes confidence and more strength. Opportunities unfold and fear takes a backseat. We learn to be bold, to trust ourselves more, to read our instincts more clearly and to have the wherewithal to look around us, inspire, and even give back.

Being self-reliant is the golden elixir to raising strong girls. It’s the magic potion that paves the unstoppable road ahead.

independence, strong girls, feminism

I wish I could take credit for this belief, but it was my 9-year-old daughter, Pascal, who showed me that independence was a necessary ingredient for her growth and development.

About 4 months ago, Pascal was asking me for skate lessons, a new skateboard, gymnastics classes and a laundry list of other things. I said, these things are expensive, they add up–we need to pick and choose. Little did I know what she was concocting behind the scenes: she was spending time at her grandmothers learning to play a dusty old accordion and she convinced me to let her play as a street performer in the hopes of raising some capital to fulfill her wants.

 

At the start, I was nervous for her– What if she put herself out there and no one paid any attention let alone money to watch her? I let her play anyway and of course she proved me wrong. Not only did she make money, and continues to do so, but she has since learned the value of earning it, saving it, spending it and even being grateful for it. She also has learned that it feels good to volunteer and play for a retirement home and also to raise money for victims of violence in our city.

The result of this has caused an interesting effect. Her list of “needs” has gotten shorter, and more focused too: She has a small bankroll for her weekly skate lessons with her coach/mentor, she has a savings to purchase a smaller, lighter accordion to save her from developing tendonitis and she ultimately wants to save up for a flight to Paris, so she can play in front of the Eiffel Tower (Pascal is close to being fully fluent in French and she also wants to test out her language skills there).

feminism, strong girls, security, independent

All kids have the power to come up with their own solutions to meet their So Called needs. It has always been fun to retort: If you want that toy that badly, how will you get it? What can you do to buy it? More often than not, the urge to spend will have vanished while the magic of sitting outside with a lemonade stand or mowing neighborhood yards has stuck around. They’ll learn a thing or two about themselves in the process of course.

Still, it feels especially important to raise girls with this level of independence in mind. When you are self-reliant, you don’t need anyone to take care of you. It becomes easy to separate needs from wants and also see ways to keep investing in yourself. Having money to do as you wish is a right and a luxury, but the process of getting there is worth something money can’t buy: increased self-worth and security with an infinite return.

Could it be that I’m raising strong CEO’s or plucky entrepreneurs? Both I hope.

So-Called Mom

 

 

feminism, equality, strong girls, independence day

So Called Independence Day

The 4th of July suddenly has a deeper meaning to me, seeing as I’ve just launched this intentional approach to celebrating feminism in our family.

We’re turning independence day into independence month, and beyond.

feminism, equality, strong girls, independence day

I used to be an excited new mom that bought cute little red, white and blue rompers for my kids this time of year so I could take pin-worthy photos of them waving flags. Now, I’m not knocking the lifestyle blogger image, as I sure am guilty of it even here–but what if we all were to take a break from that and redirect our attention to fanning the flames of what freedom really is? The pursuit of equality and the benefit of all. What if we all braved taking status quo to task and realized that there’s room for everyone at the top?

We sure would make our own fireworks, wouldn’t we?

 

Now, I’m not the most woke bulb in the bunch, but I do feel like I know a thing or two about awareness. The trick for me is to not go polar opposite my usual self, thinking that pouting in the corner is the answer. That the best way to protest a false sense of independence is to work harder with my kids as individuals who are part of a bigger picture. To constantly seek out what makes them tick and challenge them to go after life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness with a vengeance.

freedom, feminism, power to the people, girl power, shell no

I’m learning that in order to be an informed and engaged citizen, I’d better be an informed and engaged mom on the same level. I promise to open my heart and my head to these perspectives that vary on the spectrum of my very different 7 kids. They all have something of value to contribute, and not everyone is as in-your-face about it as I am. We’ll all get in the ring in our own way, I know–but I hope you’ll join in today especially. Even if it’s to watch fireworks differently and reflect about contributing to changing the landscape of equity.

Matriotic AF,

So Called Mom

skate like a girl, portland, feminism, girl power

Skate Like a Girl: A Lesson in Feminism from a 9 Year Old

Last week I declared that I was going to devote the entire month of July to feminism.

feminism, teaching girls, strong girls, girl power

As a girl who grew up with an older brother and 2 boy cousins, I’ve never struggled with maintaining a strong-girl persona.

I was a Tom Boy that graduated to So-Called womanhood with confidence and ease because I was raised believing I could keep up with them. Run with the big dogs or stay on the porch is what my mom said anytime I was feeling frustrated and inept. Even as a little girl struggling to identify what it meant to keep a mans pace as a young, impressionable female–I let this tough-guy gutsyness dominate my character; accepting it was the only way.

feminism, tom boy, so called mom, tbt

While I’m certain that the big dogs saying is tattooed across my DNA, it doesn’t mean it copied over to my children as our family grew.

Yet, I have been flexing my strong-mom muscles for years believing I didn’t need to utter the word feminism. I thought I could just model it and that would be enough.

tom boy, feminism, so called mom

But it wasn’t. I realized that teaching feminism is critical to building strong girls. That it’s not complicated, with tricky, head scratching words to waltz around. But that it can be explained in one word really: equality. The best way to insert it into my family values was to just start talking about it–and not just with my girls but with my boys. And since, we’ve become more aware of areas in which we can expand the meaning of feminism to our kids.

Take Pascal for example:

 

Moving forward, I’m intentionally reengineering the meaning of feminism for us. I sure would appreciate any advice or additional perspective you have to give. Thanks as always, the engagement here means a lot.

 

Paving the way,

So-Called Mom