The crux of feminism is analysis and awareness. Even feminists have internalized the pervasive sexism in our culture and exhibit contradictions in their lives (I love rap music, much of which contains misogynist lyrics, and I’ve objectified women I’ve passed on the street).
While I recognize that my daughter also “loves all the crap that is shamelessly marketed to girls her age,” I will challenge her when she repeats ideas about gender norms or limits the roles we can each occupy during pretend play. I will never let her limit her vision of who she can become. And I will continue to analyze and dissect the rigid gender roles placed on children’s clothes, toys, and cartoons and in popular culture.
Feminism is also crucial for dads raising boys. If you care about ensuring that boys aren’t denied their full humanity and aren’t stunted in their emotional development, you might want to thank feminism for recognizing that boys and men have feelings too. If we truly care about boys, we can acknowledge, as feminists have, that placing them in a limiting “man box” hurts them deeply and releasing them from it will improve their lives.