Today, my beautiful boys and I dedicated our Sunday to all things Pride.
I dedicated many a blog whilst I was pregnant and when Mikey was newborn to what was important to us when it came to raising a child in this world. We wanted to:
- breastfeed (and still am because we're letting him self wean, though this is now once every few days as he's dropped his afternoon naps and only had a feed if he was napping at home in bed instead of in the sling or bike seat)
- babywear and co-sleep, attachment parenting style (he got his own bedroom at 18 months and sleeps in a toddler bed, though often creeps in with us some time after 4:30 for cuddles and sometimes a feed)
- follow a mixture of Montessori and Steiner principles for learning and development
- eat only fresh, hand prepared food using local ingredients and ethically sourced meat and fish rather than anything processed with no sugar, additives, preservatives or unnecessary chemicals whatsoever
- avoid his exposure to plastics (whether toys or utensils to eat with - we have 95% wooden toys and used china plates with metal cutlery - Baby Led Weaning was the most incredible experience for us and I can't recommend it enough) and unnecessary chemicals (we never washed him with soap, only water until he was walking, at which point we started washing his hair with bicarb of soda and vinegar once a week, #NoPoo style. After he nearly died after a chance exposure to a Johnson's baby product, it's lucky for him that he has such a hippy for a mother who only uses products from Lush... or ones I make myself!)
But of all the things I didn't want to expose him to, our incredibly sexist world was number one on my list.
Whilst he loves to watch films with me - at home or at the cinema - he has never watched a children's television program of any description. I hate the franchising of these vapid characters and the way tv tie-in merchandise is linked to everything from incredibly gender-divisive (and mostly vulgar plastic) toys to incredibly unhealthy foods and confectionery that I would never give to him. If he is playing in the same room whilst his Daddy or I are watching television (a rarity because we tend to play with him rather than ignore him in favour of television, there's time to binge on Netflix when he's gone to bed!), we've used TiVo in order to fast forward the adverts. We don't buy magazines or newspapers and work really hard to try to give him a positive worldview instead of expose him to content which could influence him in a negative way.
He loves to read and so for every "traditional" story book with heteronormative, mostly white and very gender-biased characters and plot lines, we have another book which offers a different perspective. Princesses who rescue their Princes or reject the premise that they have to look pretty in pink, families with two mothers, two fathers, single parents, adopted children and mixed race families. Books which aim to celebrate and normalise diversity and above all reflect it. I love to see illustrations in books of children of different races that are dressed in a range of clothes - girls in shorts and trousers as well as skirts and wearing colours that are not pink. Stories with police officers, fire fighters and paramedics who are of both genders - a world where not only men are doctors and scientists and racing car drivers - I love to see books about children who break with convention or have handicaps - I especially love Todd Parr books.
When he reached the imaginary play stage, we bought little flexible wooden dolls of varied races and ages and it was really lovely to see him make up stories where two dads were taking their children in the car to Bundobust for lunch, or a mummy and a daddy with a child of a different race to themselves were going to the seaside. To him a family is a family and love is love and there is no cookie cutter normal.
He has grown up with parents who both do the housekeeping, change his nappy and put him to bed, grown up around friends in same-sex couples and friends who co-parent so he isn't going to grow up thinking that Daddies go to work and Mummies clean the sink. My biggest fear? Him going to school and being influenced by people with bigoted parents.
Why is this necessary to us? Because intersectionality is so fucking important and we still don't live in a world where our children see diversity represented on all the portals that influence them. There aren't enough television shows and films and books that don't either sanitise their cast or worse have a token person of colour or a token homosexual or a token elderly person and then perpetuate harmful stereotypes. We don't have a proper representation of different genders and lifestyle choices in parliament. We live in a world where Everyday Sexism highlights just how backward peoples views are, for goodness sake we live in a world where Female Genital Mutilation is still a thing and same-sex marriage has only just been legalised and people are STILL trying to overturn it! Do you know what politicians? People are gay, get over it. Women have sex, take contraceptives, have abortions... if you don't agree with these things then don't do them. What other people do does not influence you. And if you think abortion impacts the world in a negative way? Maybe read freakonomics or world population awareness. The only cure for ignorance is education. Accept people!
Each new generation shapes the world and I can only hope that this next generation of tech-savvy parents will be ones who are influenced by content from Upworthy and not The Daily Mail online. Happy pride everyone! #NoTurningBack
Ziggy played guitarrrrrraaaaarrrrraaaarrrrrr
Title: Port of Amsterdam by David Bowie