Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘raising daughters’ Category

My latest column for Fairfax newspapers is here:

Go ahead and brainwash your baby. There are few enough privileges as a parent, you might as well seize this one. If you want to change the world and make it a less sexist place then this little human sponge of yours is the best chance you’ve got. Because truth is, the world is going to try to brainwash your baby right back. I’m wary of anyone being too prescriptive about either parenting or feminism these days, I’ve made my share of compromises with both, and I’m not much interested in perfectionism. But in case you’re after a starting point with anti-sexist parenting then here’s three general tips from my own experience.

Read Full Post »

I have a co-written article with the very clever Lori Day in the Huffington Post today about the four reasons why parents buy into the culture of gender stereotyping.

 

Read Full Post »

Deborah: Tell us a bit about your book that’s coming out next fall, The Princess Problem: Guiding Our Girls Through the Princess-Obsessed Years (Source Books, 2014). Is there any way in which you think girls can be active agents in princess play? In what ways do you hope your book will steer popular debate? And what do you most want to change?

Rebecca: Thanks for asking. The Princess Problem is really a handbook for parents to raise media-literate daughters–girls who are able to think critically about marketing, the beauty ideal, gender stereotypes, and race representation. This is an important task for 21st-century parents: We must coach our children, guiding them to become critical viewers of media culture in general. And yet media literacy is not something that’s a mainstream concept yet in the U.S.; many other countries include media literacy in their K-12 curricula, but that’s not the case here. I’d like that to change.

I focus in my book on princess culture in particular because “princess” is so pervasive–it’s THE defining pop culture phenomenon in early girlhood. And it’s the perfect example to use in a text on raising media literate girls because the issues we need to discuss with our daughters so often differ from than the issues we would discuss with our sons. (For example, body image issues are a very different beast when it comes to girls and boys.) But the principles I teach in The Princess Problem could easily be extrapolated to raising media-literate sons, too.

And yes, I absolutely believe girls can be active agents in princess play. Kids are not passive victims of media and toys; they’re active consumers who regularly defy our assumptions. That’s a position I’ve espoused in some of my earlier work–for example, my study of girls and Bratz dolls.

It’s important to note, then, that in The Princess Problem, my goal is not to persuade girls that princesses are bad or to “de-princess” them; rather, it is to help parents help their girls reason become critical viewers who can see that there are many, many ways to be a girl.

From Girl w/ Pen! with Deborah Siegel interviewing Rebecca Hains in “Girls, Boys, Feminism, Toys”.

Read Full Post »

Needless to say, hair ish is exhausting for the entire family. I’ve been seriously considering creating a set of business cards for her to hand out to the overly inquisitive. On one side of the card would be several images of the amazing versatility of Black girl’s hair. On the other, there would be these simple sentences: To paraphrase Prince, “my hair is something you will never comprehend.” Just let it go.

From the wonderful Shawn Taylor in Ebony on teaching his young daughter how to deal with constant, invasive curiosity about her hair. I think Shawn is spot on about there being a problem with putting the onus on his daughter to accept rude attention rather than on white parents and schools’ to educate kids better about racism. And I love the use of that Prince line.
For more feminist fatherhood you can follow my friend, Shawn at @reallovepunk.
 
 

Read Full Post »

This – 5 Ways to Avoid Implicit Sexism – over at Everyday Feminism is good.

I don’t blog much about the How To’s of feminist parenting anymore, I used to, but I’ve talked myself to death on some of that stuff. But for those looking for some fresh, practical thoughts on this topic I thought that piece by Paige Lucas-Stannard was a good one.

Read Full Post »

If you wondered about whatever happened to that cute little baby called Storm who was being raised gender neutral there’s an update here. And Demeter Press, one of the best publishers for parenthood has a book being launched about gender fluid parenting practices which includes an essay by Storm’s mother. The book is available from here.

 

 

Read Full Post »

index  tumblr_inline_mio13jYwlr1qz4rgp kathllen

Amazing Babes: A Picture Book for Kids & Adults by Eliza Sarlos and Grace Lee, and published by Scribe, is a truly gorgeous picture book. Reviewing this book with my two children, a girl and boy aged eight and four years respectively, was a complete delight.

The hard cover picture book features twenty feminist icons. Each icon is beautifully drawn by Grace Lee and their picture is accompanied by a simple statement highlighting a personal trait of theirs that will most inspire children. These statements express charming wishes like, “I want the curiosity of Hedy Lamarr” and “I want to find ways to explore like Frida Kahlo”.

The range of women included is impressively broad and crosses from the most contemporary, like Tavi Gevinson and Malala Yousafzai, to others from history such as Emma Goldman. Notably for me, the book also includes a couple of Australian figures (eg. Mum Shirl and Miles Franklin).  Amazing Babes manages to avoid the disappointment of so many other feminist texts which all but ignore women from outside the Anglosphere, so women like Vandana Shiva and Aung San Suu Kyi are also here.

There’s a fair bit of diversity in terms of age, race, nationality and area of expertise across the icons profiled but no list of feminist icons is going to meet everyone’s approval.  I am sure some readers will wonder why particular favourites weren’t included, though the book encompasses big stars like Gloria Steinem and Audre Lorde, and given the age of mothers with young children, Kathleen Hanna is certain to be a popular inclusion.

The style of illustration greatly appealed to my children, who as I noted above, range in age from 4 to 8 years. They found the book enormously intriguing and I would encourage parents to offer it both to sons as well as daughters. In fact, the author of the book originally wrote the collection for her own son. The beauty of this book is that it can be read to children of various ages with younger children simply enjoying the illustrations and growing familiarity with famous names and older children being able to go on and research further those women who particularly inspire them.

At the back of the book is a full list of the twenty icons and a more complete description of each woman and her accomplishments. I have only one criticism of the book and it is with this section. This text is not written in an always accessible way for young readers who would otherwise be drawn to the book. For instance, “While working as a feminist, Miles also devoted herself to cultivating a uniquely Australian voice within Australian literature” – it’s not exactly a jargonistic sentence but it is beyond a lot of primary school beginner readers. The descriptions could also have benefited from a pronunciation guide for the women’s names, some of which won’t be immediately familiar to all readers. However, this is a small bone to pick with what is really a very special book. There are simply not enough of these kinds of books being written for children and I hope this one finds plenty of success.

And finally… there are three copies available for give-away to readers of blue milk, if you’re interested in entering the competition simply leave a comment below (with a valid email address) and I will randomly draw three names within the fortnight. The publishers have put no limits on regions for entry so please feel free to enter regardless of which country you live in.

In accordance with disclosure guidelines, please note that I was sent a copy of this book for review by the publisher.

Read Full Post »

Very thought-provoking article on cultural capital, parenting, high and low art, racism and representation from David Osa Amadasun – “Black people don’t go to art galleries: the reproduction of taste and cultural values”:

Here’s the scenario: two children, one white and one black, walk into an exhibition filled with portraits of white people. Both children enjoy it. After the exhibition they make self-portraits out of food. The black child asks for brown ingredients – cocoa pops, hot chocolate powder – to represent his skin in the portrait. The white child does not bother with colour in the same way. Her whiteness is not a colour that needs to be marked or thought about, it is naturalized as normal, a seamless part of the wall-to-wall whiteness of the surrounding exhibition. On closer inspection the portraits show further nuances of colouring and also commonality. Other features such as nose, lips, eyes and hair were not represented mimetically. As the brown skin colour of the portrait on the left stands out because of its purposeful colouring, it creates a link between the child and their artwork, making visible what is taken for granted in this space – whiteness.

 There has been progress in the diversity of representations within exhibitions, for example the Meshac Gaba and Ibrahim El-Salahi exhibitions at the Tate – which the kids and parents loved. But adequate progress has not been made in how these institutions, funded by public money, encourage those from underrepresented groups. As Dr Eleonora Belfiore from Warwick University has pointed out, there are fundamental and ‘awkward’ questions that need to be asked about the social and institutional structures that support and maintain hierarchies of taste, ‘if the debate on cultural value is to go beyond an empty rhetoric of self-celebration’ Belfiore writes ‘then it needs to be an occasion in which awkward questions are asked of the sector as a whole. Questions such as ‘For whom does the sector generate value?’, ‘What do organisations big and small do to live up to their status as public cultural organisations?’

And I love the questions he closes with in this article. “Do we want to encourage cultural omnivores by diversifying taste and/or do we want a radical overhaul of the very values that make distinctions between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture?”

Thanks to Shawn Taylor for the link.

Read Full Post »

Susan Faludi is the business. “Facebook feminism, like it or not” in The Baffler is brilliant.

Beneath highly manicured glam shots, each “member” or “partner” reveals her personal “Lean In moment.” The accounts inevitably have happy finales—the Lean In guidelines instruct contributors to “share a positive ending.” Tina Brown’s Lean In moment: getting her parents to move from England to “the apartment across the corridor from us on East 57th Street in New York,” so her mother could take care of the children while Brown took the helm at The New Yorker. If you were waiting for someone to lean in for child care legislation, keep holding your breath. So far, there’s no discernible groundswell.

When asked why she isn’t pushing for structural social and economic change, Sandberg says she’s all in favor of “public policy reform,” though she’s vague about how exactly that would work, beyond generic tsk-tsking about the pay gap and lack of maternity leave. She says she supports reforming the workplace—but the particulars of comparable worth or subsidized child care are hardly prominent elements of her book or her many media appearances.

And

Sandberg’s admirers would say that Lean In is using free-market beliefs to advance the cause of women’s equality. Her detractors would say (and have) that her organization is using the desire for women’s equality to advance the cause of the free market. And they would both be right. In embodying that contradiction, Sheryl Sandberg would not be alone and isn’t so new. For the last two centuries, feminism, like evangelicalism, has been in a dance with capitalism.

Which brings me back to this recent post… Capitalism both accelerated women’s liberation and exacerbated inequality and there is no feminist analysis of anything in our lives without consideration of that fact. I seem to continually find myself writing articles about the tensions between work and family and apart from the fact that I might be a bit repetitive I also think this stuff is at the very heart of what feminism is trying to reconcile.

Previous posts on this blog on the topic include:

The split

Some women want to stay home with children and feminism needs to make peace with that

The real reason why you should be careful in your discussions about mothers

David Willets – yeah kinda, but not really

Workplace flexibility is a feminist issue

You must read

Why we should be careful taking ‘maternity’ out of parental leave

What does feminist motherhood look like when black mothers are defining it?

Mother guilt as a luxury item

Read Full Post »

After all of this, there is also this..

There is a better way to talk and teach about sexual negotiation and consent, a more realistic and ethical approach that would, I believe, also be more successful in reducing sexual assault. It begins with thinking of sex as the outcome of a collaboration rather than a battle, as dancing rather than fighting.

It’s a wondrful piece in the Sydney Morning Herald from Emily Maguire, who is just as wonderful in person, I must say.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,184 other followers