If the Future is Female, What Does That Mean for my Young Son?
#86this: Main Menu
By Claire Trost
Writer's note: The recent eruption of stories about sexual harassment takes me back to Jan. 21, 2017, when the Women’s March took place. What a profound time it’s been ever since. How amazing to be a part of a movement of women filled with the conviction to never suffer silently again.
However, along with the pride I feel for my strong female peers, I am also reminded of the tension between the messages that I felt last January. Messaging that made me feel lost and even sad. As a mom to a young boy, I worry about what the world communicates to him in regards to being a "strong" man, and the countervailing truths I understand. I wrote about my thoughts on raising a strong man last winter on my personal blog and those thoughts remain with me today. This post was originally published Feb. 11, 2017.
To be totally honest, I have felt a little confused through the recent resurgence of feminism. I love dynamic and powerful women. I root for them. I strive to be one. And, as gender roles go, I will be the first to admit that I do lean quite female. Particularly when it comes to my interests. I enjoy fashion, maintaining a neat home, gardening, and the occasional gossip magazine. I love a good pedicure, dinner out with the girls, low-intensity exercise, and being a hostess. Babies, fresh cut flowers, and crisp bottles of rosé make me happy. Paper Source, Anthropologie, and little off-the-beaten-path boutiques are my jam.
Guess what else I really like to do? Cook.
And, my favorite person to cook for? My husband.
How 1950s of me. Right?
How anti-feminism. Right...?
Cooking… for a man.
But, like it or not, it’s true.
Through all the recent press, hashtags, and articles, I have felt lost. Wondering where I fit in with all this—if I fit in at all—because there have been times I felt a little bad for liking these things.
This confusion turned to sadness last weekend.
Audi ran a commercial during the Super Bowl where a father is watching his daughter race a soapbox car against boys and asks, “What will I tell my daughter?” This struck my heart in a way that I don’t believe the creators had intended.
I thought the commercial was inspirational and the best kind of bold to run during a, stereotypically speaking, masculine event. I agree with the messaging as I am all for equality in every sense. I am definitely for equality in the workforce, particularly equal pay.
When and if I am blessed with a daughter I know what I will tell her: I will tell her she can be and do whatever she wants. She can grow up and change the world. I hope to guide her to have a strong sense of self and to not be dependent on a man.
And, I think by being a working mom and a female farmer, I am setting a good example. I also hope that by being one of the many women redefining motherhood, careers, and farming that I am also paving a way for all of our daughters.
But, I have a son.
A wonderful, super-cute nine-month-old son.
A little boy who has this amazing ability to make anyone happy with his smile. A son who has looked at this world with his bright blue eyes wide open since Day One. Two things I hope he never loses.
…That and his chubby feet, but I will take what I can get.
What about him?
What am I supposed to tell him?
How I am supposed to feel as the mom of a young boy when the world is shouting “The Future is Female!”?
What do I tell him when he sees this?
What does this mean for my son’s future? The future for all boys?
What are we telling them?
This is so hard for me because as his mom I will tell him exactly what I would tell a daughter: He can be and do anything he puts his mind to. He can grow up and change the world.
… But, I can’t help but wonder, is the world telling him something different?
And, just as I hope to raise independent girls, I hope to raise a strong man. A man who respects women. A man who has a strong sense of self so he has the courage to speak up when he sees anyone being treated unfairly or inappropriately.
And, a big part of raising a strong man also means that I will not be raising a helpless man.
My son will do his laundry and will be taught to read tags so he doesn’t ruin anything he owns.
He will be expected to pick up after himself. He will know how to sew on a button and run a quick stitch in case he finds himself in a bind.
My son will also know how to cook. God willing, he will know how to cook well.
Even before kids, my husband and I discussed the importance of getting children into the kitchen. We plan on involving them in the cooking process at an early age despite the mess it may make and the patience needed. (And, the Band-Aids, too.)
There are so many studies that show this makes young kids more confident and inclined to eat healthy foods. We have also talked about instilling responsibility, skill, and hopefully a little creativity in our children by making them in charge of one meal a week as teenagers.
Cooking is not just for women. It’s not just for grandmas. It’s not just for 1950s housewives.
Cooking is a life skill for everyone.
Cooking and food are great equalizers because we all have to eat.
And, my hope through this movement is that every child—male and female—is fed with the encouragement to become everything they are capable of becoming. That they are nourished with love and pass it to their peers regardless of their gender.
So, let’s take a few cues from food and let’s not forget the boys.
Writer's Note: Today, I am in a solid place in my relationship with feminism and food. I realize that if both come from a place of love and inclusion, all is well. As for my son, his chubby feet are thinning, but he still looks at the world with the same great care and big smile. He also took on an important new role in November that suits him quite well: big brother... to a little sister.
Claire Trost is a graduate of Purdue University’s Hospitality Management program and is a development manager for Campus Cooks, a national company that manages professional chefs in sororities and fraternities. She and her husband also own and operate Bent Arrow Acres, a sustainable farm specializing in organic produce and pasture raised animals.