What kind of sons do Feminists raise?

What kind of mothers parents-of-sons do feminists makes? Do their sons grow up better adjusted, do they make better husbands, colleagues… better  men?

What would ‘better’ mean here? Perhaps, they are less likely to tolerate (or give into) the pressures to fit into manliness-stereotypes?

Do you think sons of feminist parents (SOF) grow up less fearful of losing their  ‘masculinity’, say if they are not inclined to ‘control’ the women and younger men in their lives?

And typically in the Indian scenario, are SOFs less likely to be under pressure to grow up to be Shravan Kumars and Rams, willing to give up their own happiness, family life, career choices, other personal choices including who they choose to marry?

So are sons of feminists more likely to take their own decisions, make up their own minds and live their lives on their own terms?

Priya Rao shared this link.  What do you think?

“My life doesn’t revolve around you”: a note of gratitude for a feminist mom (reprinted) – by Hugo Schwyzer

Related Posts:

With due respect Parenting ≠ Martyrdom

So what do our children owe us?

Mommy Guilt: A Western Influence.

An email: Is it fair for parents to say that their happiness depends on who their kids marry?

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38 thoughts on “What kind of sons do Feminists raise?

  1. I do think that children who grow up in families that respect women just assume that it is the only way. Whether these are parents who self identify as feminists or those whose actions speak of their respect for humans, gender insensitively. I think children who are parented with this respect instilled in them (through actions, not ‘I will deal with crap but you don’t dole it out to your wife when you grow up’ words) start off on the second storey in terms of personal development and have a much higher chance of a more equal relationship. It is their normal!

    I know that my kids speak up when they see gender differences now. And try to act according to their developing inner compasses.

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    • What is it with the thumbs downs? Is respect for human beings such a hard concept to understand? Oops! I forgot, women are not human beings. My mistake.

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  2. IHM,
    Read the post. It echoes my thoughts. I have been brought up in an environment where parents always kept reminding their children that they have sacrificed a lot for them. Yes, it plays havoc with your mind but thankfully a) I snapped out of it b) My parents were not too vehemant about it.
    Yes, my parents have scarificed a lot for me but that does not make me a tool to repay for those sacrifices. I would rather love them and spend a good life with them instead of bringing in all the sacrifice-repay crap in-between. My parents understand this now and are fine with it. We are all adults living in a house.
    I do not entirely blame the generation before me for what we are going through. They were brought up in such an environment and they took it to be the right way. Thankfully, a lot of people from my generation have understood those mistakes and have made sure that they do not propagate. I am definitely one of them.
    I have always maintained that parenting is not the same are martyrdom. I don’t know if you remember but I wrote about it some time back. Here is the link – http://mashedmusings.wordpress.com/2012/04/14/with-due-respect-parenting-%E2%89%A0-martyrdom/

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  3. I don’t know about feminists, I don’t consider myself one. I am a humanist, and yes I don’t want to extract a price for parenting. I want my kids to live their own lives and let me live mine. I do extract a price for parenting, one meal a week cooked by the son …. getting clothes back from the dry cleaners … helping me budget the house expenses and watching a low brow (in their opinion) movie with me. They comply. No unnecessary drama. Drama works well in movies and novels, not in real life

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  4. A person raised by Feminist parents will grow up to respect women.Will help around the house.Will help with the kids. In other words, he will fit the description of the JKG(joru ka ghulam) you have on your home page.

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    • I just wanted to add that perhaps he won’t so much help around the house/ with kids as do his share. ‘Helping’ sounds so much like it’s the woman’s primary responsibility and I think it lowers our expectations from our men.

      I don’t see my husband’s chores as help. He’s not helping me, just doing his share. Just like I’m not helping him by going to work.

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      • I totally agree with you on the usage of the word ‘helping’. You are right, he is doing his chores.
        Please, can you tell me what chores your husband does?
        Mine cuts veggies,changes my little one’s diaper and that is about it. Doing the laundry,keeping the house tidy and buying groceries and vegetables is all my share.Earlier, when I used to work, we both used to go to buy the monthly groceries but now that I quit, to take care of my little one, he ‘allows’ me to do that all alone while he baby sits darling daughter.
        And if my inlaws are visiting, he will not so much as budge his little toe. He says ‘its for your own good. If i help around by removing my plate after eating etc then my folks will think that you do not know to do anything’.I never got the logic behind it.
        Frankly speaking, I do not know what else he can ‘help’ me with. Whenever I point out that I would like bit more, he comes back with ‘others dont do even this much.i do so much around the house, for one thing you do not acknowledge or appreciate whatever i do to lessen our burden and on top of that you expect more from me?’
        I dont know who said it, but i can recall — You can never win woman.HaHa What a bitch, life is!

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        • Hi Sandy,

          Life can be a bitch indeed and your husband is definitely off the mark when he says ‘others don’t even do that much’. It depends on who he is choosing as ‘others’, no? :-)

          The division of household chores depends on what a couple thinks is fair for them. But I do believe it should be a join decision based on what both think is fair.. not just what the husband feels is ‘enough’.

          In my case, we have no kids and we both work. My husband’s chores include cooking, cleaning/ vacuuming, loading the dishwasher, doing the laundry, ironing, buying groceries, paying bills, mowing the lawn. My chores are exactly the same. We just take turns doing them or split them and do them together. Except for cooking and buying groceries, which we always do together since we don’t eat or cook the same things (I’m vegetarian, he’s not).

          I don’t have to enforce these chores on him or ask him to do them, I just don’t do his chores. I don’t see the house as my sole responsibility at all.. so if he slips up or I slip up.. it just gets messy. I don’t see that as my problem alone. Then we both spend Saturday getting it in order together, which only takes a couple of hours since there’s two of us. It has never ever lead to a fight.

          Our chores remain the same when my parents or in-laws visit. We are very happy making it clear to everyone that we are equals, rather than pretend how good we are at traditional roles. For example, once my MIL’s maid (she’s like family) said she had ‘imagined how he must return home from work in the UK and leave his shoes/ coat/ bag just on the floor.. with no one to pick them up. Now he has you.’ I replied saying ‘I will certainly not be picking up after him.. but he definitely now has someone to yell at him if he leaves his stuff on the floor!’. My MIL was sitting right there with us and we all had a laugh.

          This thing your husband says about ‘they will think you don’t know anything’ is bizarre.. you do not have to prove your ‘housekeeper’ skills to them. Don’t let your husband talk you into believing that you do. They should in fact be ashamed if their son cannot even put his own plate in the kitchen after eating. I would be, if he was my son!

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  5. Why is there an over all assumption by many people that getting into a romantic relationship is the more honorable thing to do? Its perfectly fine to value your relationship with your mother more than any other. Feminism is not hurt by that. Just like women, men don’t owe relationship to anybody.

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    • Yes, perfectly fine, if you want to do that. In my experience, though, the sons who don’t respect women, don’t respect their mothers a human being. They tend to put her on a pedestal, and woe betide her if she does show any signs of human failings. These are the men who worship goddesses, but have no respect for the very human real women in their lives. I know such men who love their mother as their MOTHER, but treat her like shit if she so much as steps out of line of their idea of ideal behavior. They are just as uncaring about the other women in their lives. For example, a wife is supposed to be a cook, housekeeper, whore, all rolled into one, but not a human being with feelings and wishes of her own.

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    • The thing is, Indian men who want to make their mothers their first priority in their lives nevertheless expect their wives to loosen their ties with their own natal families to a considerable extent and devote themselves solely to their husbands/in-laws. If a man wants to make his mother the main focus of her life, he has two honorable options: he can choose not to get married, or he can marry a woman who likewise does not wish to make him the centre of her life. The current Indian setup, where a man is expect to be devoted to his natal kin, and a woman is expected to be devoted to her husband with no real expectation that her devotion will be returned is unfair and inegalitarian.

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      • This.

        It’s fine if you want to make your mum your primary focus in life. But you cannot then marry someone and expect them to also make your mum or yourself their primary focus in life. That not give and take, that’s just take. This is the only point of contention.

        If your devotion to your mum/ dad/ god/ whoever doesn’t affect a wife or a kid who expect something else from you, then no one cares. You can be as devoted to anyone as you like.

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  6. I think sons of feminist parents grow up to be more independent and with a more gender neutral view of the world. My husband grew up much less entitled than me, because his mum thought he should pack his own lunch while mine toiled away early morning to make me hot parathas. He does not think he is ‘helping’ me when he cooks or cleans.He doesn’t feel the need to tell me that he’s cleaning the kitchen and expect gratitude/ brownie points in return. He just gets on with what he thinks is his share of the chores. And he makes more money than me (often used as an excuse for women to do the housework).

    I am slightly more interested in seeing what daughters of feminists grow up to be like. I think powerless daughters is at least as big a problem as sexist sons. Even egalitarian men would find it difficult to have equal relationships with women who themselves feel guilty about not being a traditional wife. I know couples who could have equal relationships if only the women believed it was ok to have one and didn’t guilt trip themselves into doing all the housework/ cooking/ cleaning/ whatever.

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  7. Showing them is better than telling them. Once when my kids were young, i asked them to cut up some bread for something , our cook has sundays off and they as usual didn’t want to do any work, so i lectured them on how they need to know to cook since they can’t expect someone to cook for them all the time. when they chimed in saying ‘ see even if mami is off you cook, dad doesn’t – so our wives will cook’ !!! I was shocked, my husband heard it and ever since sun is the men’s kitchen day. i only help. now after a decade of that, my sons can cook and cook cleanly, without making a mess, I’m amazed at how little dishes and spoons they use to cook , we just had to show them. they seem to have problem taking care of themselves in the hostel .
    when they come for holidays we go out, have fun, and they even cook for us :-) , they also spend a large amout of time with cook mami, sorting out spices, making poweders and packinginto single serve packets ( they have a hotplate ) when mess food gets to be disgusting..
    and they tease me saying ‘ if we ever meet a girl we like, we’ll simply patau her with our awesome cooking’ and her parents too .
    It’s not just teaching sons to do their share of work, is it showingf them everyone is responsible for themselves first, marriage means equal partner not free maid service. i think the best way to instill this is show them and feminists mom’s have a leg up on this.

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  8. This question sounds to me like…would you turn religious if you were brought up by religious parents? I think I would know a lot more about rituals but don’t think I would do them myself unless I, as an individual, with my own intelligence, and common sense believe that being religious helps me be a better human being.

    Similarly, if I was brought up by a feminist or in a feminist household, I would know a lot about feminist beliefs…but whether or not I would believe in them would be my personal choice. If being a feminist helps me be a better person…why not?

    But again my point is it is an individual who decides what works for him/her…and not the family or parents.

    Influencing a child to follow your beliefs (whatever they may be) is about exercising control – nothing else. So even if a son is being raised by a feminist mother who ritually jumps in agreement with his wife, or mother or sister without giving any matter a thought of his own, I would see him as just another fool, a robot, a pet.

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    • “So even if a son is being raised by a feminist mother who ritually jumps in agreement with his wife, or mother or sister without giving any matter a thought of his own, I would see him as just another fool, a robot, a pet”
      You have the concept of feminism wrong. Feminism is not about women dominating men, its about men and women being equal partners in any relationship. So a feminist mom is not teaching her son to be a robot, but is teaching him to respect and treat his wife and all other women in his life as equals, just like how she expects equality from her husband and other men around her.

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      • @Priya

        I didn’t mean to say a feminist mom will teach her son to be a pet …I meant, chances are that a pet will be a pet (someone without basic intelligence, with a constant need for approval), whether born to a feminist mom or not.

        Just saying, when a man takes constant approval of his mother he is called a mumma’s boy, a pet..when he takes constant approval of his wife, he becomes a feminist.

        In my opinion both men are pets.

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        • //when he takes constant approval of his wife, he becomes a feminist//

          Joyee, a feminist is someone who sees women (and men) as humans, not gods/goddesses, not villains/vamps, not someone to seek approval from, not someone to give or deny approval to.

          Feminism understands that it’s possible for men and women to have healthy relationships where one is not telling the other how to live their lives. It’s not men versus women.

          Feminist parents encourage their children (sons and daughters) to use their own judgment and to live their lives on their own terms, their children are unlikely to seek approval and respect of anybody but themselves.

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        • True IHM, I agree and I understand the theory of feminism. But I have seen women coerce husbands into living life ‘their’ way and then declare themselves as ‘feminists’. That’s when I say please do not glorify a concept so much that someone can take advantage of it. Let’s not make a concept steal the attention away from the cause. What should be greater and bigger is the cause…not the system.
          But we spend more time discussing and defending our belief systems more than actually doing something to eradicate the problems that gave birth to these systems.

          Humanism is not created by man…man is born with compassion, common sense, intelligence and intuition. And in my opinion, that is all a man/woman needs.

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        • Women or men who try to control other people’s lives succeed because they are doing so in the name of Patriarchy or Feminism or Humanism?

          About ‘discussing and defending our belief systems’, how can a problem be solved if many of us don’t even acknowledge or realise that the problem(s) exist?

          The discussions create awareness that the issues exist, and awareness of a problem is the first and essential step in dealing with any problem.

          Discussions also help in understanding what caused the problem, or why the remain unacknowledged, and how some of the problems are actually seen as solutions (like imposing of dress codes). Most of the time, simply living by one’s beliefs is enough done for the cause one believes in.

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    • ‘But I have seen women coerce husbands into living life ‘their’ way and then declare themselves as ‘feminists’.’

      Well, that does not make feminism bad. Some scientists forge results and publish papers with fake data.. that does not make science bad! The point here was not that a feminist mom will make her son a slave. The point is that if you grow up in household where your sister is asked to pick up your plate after you eat (true story), you will perhaps feel that you are entitled to that service. However, if you grow up in a household where you and your sister do equal household chores, get equal education and play opportunities, you won’t have that gender biased view.

      Obviously, we should all grow up and be able to decide for ourselves. That would be great.. but many people still fall back on repeating patterns they grew up with, so it is important to consider how you grow up. I see so many women who have all the financial independence and education as their husbands and still do not believe they can ask for equality. Parenting could make a huge difference there.

      The comparison with religion is not so applicable actually. I have decided I do not believe there is a god and I do not believe in any religion. However, religion did not give my any additional advantages that I had to sacrifice when I firmed up my atheistic views.

      Patriarchy on the other hand gives significant advantages to boys while growing up. If a man then grows up and decides to be egalitarian, he loses out on those. Some will do it, of course. But many will carry on being the ‘superior’ one even if they realise it’s unfair just because they think they can. This is what growing up in an equal household removes from the equation.. the son or daughter will not grow up thinking it’s ok to put up with or propagate sexist views.

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      • @ Carvaka
        I have a number of American male friends raised by single mothers, in typical feminist households. They grew up respecting women but turned sexist as adults when they realised the respect is largely a one-way affair.
         
        I disagree with the oft-repeated claim that patriarchy is inherently disadvantageous to men. Having studied the claims of patriarchy as well as I did and having observed how they play out in the real world – the mythic patriarchy is anything but advantageous to men.
         
        1) Men are considered disposable, which women (and children) considered protected assets. The whole ‘women and children first’ rhetoric. Or the fact that in most patriarchial societies only men are supposed to give up their lives to defend their families and country.
        2) A father’s right to be with his kids is not seen as a legitimate right. He is supposed to work and feed the family, even though it takes far more skill and acumen to make a decent living than keep a household (~personal experience).
        3) If women stay within the roles defined to them by the society, they are accorded respect just for being women. Men are considered to deserve respect only when they have proved their worth in the society.
        4) Even in today’s feminist world, men are still taught that they have to ‘make it’ in life, because no one will be there to make a living for them. For women, working for a living is still an option. A lot of my so called ‘feminist’ batchmates have stopped working of their own accrod, after finding and marrying rich husbands; once they realised doing what you love does not always bring as much money as struggling to make a living.
         
        I could outline more, but I think I have made my point. Now bring up the advantages, please! :)

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        • They grew up respecting women but turned sexist as adults when they realised the respect is largely a one-way affair.

          Did they meet some women who didn’t return their respect and thus turned sexist? Because that’s a bizarre reason to decide that men and women are not actually equal and men should be treated as superior to women. That’s like me growing up believing everyone is equal, then meeting someone from the dalit caste who’s not nice to me and changing my belief system to believe that dalits are lower and untouchable. That makes no sense to me. Did they perhaps instead realise they could actually get away with being sexist and that it suits them better?

          I actually agree that Patriarchy extorts a price from men too. I think allowing men less parental leave than women is outrageous in view of our other gender equality laws (and has changed in Scandinavia and UK recently). I also think this world is not feminist and hence the pressure on men to ‘make it’ is a traditional one. In principle, every individual should have the same right to choose whether to work or not (but I personally believe everyone should be financially independent, men and women).

          So I was speaking of the advantages that boys in India have over girls growing up in gender traditional households. Men and boys get to eat before the women and should be served by them. Girls should be trained in household work.. so boys get to play and have fun while girls are being ‘trained’. Education and opportunities. Simple freedom to go out and do things post 6 pm/ 8pm/ some appropriate deadline. In some places, carrying a mobile phone or being allowed to live past birth (although this might not be apparent to them). Boys are also made aware of their ‘importance’ in festivals and rituals surrounding them. Two generations ago, women’s education was frequently discontinued very early in favour of continuing the sons’ educations. I know one in Delhi family where the girl has to bring her younger brother water/ food/ whatever he wants and put his plates away. I could go on.

          If you grew up like that (‘traditionally’) and were the much worshipped boy (literally, on festivals like rakhi), you’re not starting from a level playing field. Why give up a system that gives you a perceived advantage? Why choose to do chores when women have always done it for you? This perceived advantage shouldn’t exist in an egalitarian household, making it easier to choose to be an egalitarian person. That’s what I was talking about.

          Ofcourse it’s a total con because equality and sharing these household responsibilities could mean you also share the financial responsibilities. You give up controlling the women in your lives and in return they become responsible for themselves. So I would think, this is all good for men too.. and Patriarchy might be misadvertising itself. Those ‘advantages’ lead to a lot of pressures and unhealthy relationships.. but the early advantages in traditional setups are very real if you have a sister you can compare your treatment with.

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        • Loved the way you have explained it here. Like the thumb-downer who I’m sure is still lurking around, I would like to give you many thumbs-ups for this comment.

          Would love to read more of your thoughts if you have a blog.

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  9. Pingback: “Everyone knows, when she decides not to keep relation, she will do that. But I don’t want to go far away from my mother, I want her to be with me.” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  10. Pingback: How would you react if you knew your son (or daughter) felt this way? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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