When having a child, the one thing that all us parents hope for above all is a safe delivery and baby, and in that regard my partner and I were truly lucky. We had no problems other than the chord inconsequentially being wrapped around her neck a few times. Other than that, everything went smoothly. But I still had some anxieties on the back of my mind that began around the ultrasound of the 4th month of pregnancy. That was the visit in which the “biological sex” of my upcoming child was revealed, or at least what the sex appears to be to nurses and doctors within a cis-centered way of thinking. When I heard from the nurse that my coming child was a girl, I was overjoyed. My family being mostly boys, this was an exciting moment for me, my partner, my mother, and the rest of our family.
At the same time as I had this overwhelming happiness, there was a major flood of emotions ranging from depression to indignation regarding the world she was being born into. While I was so happy to be a part of bringing a daughter into this world, I also was, and still am to an extent, afraid of the male-dominated world that we would bring her into.
To explain my fears in a quick summary: According to the National Sexual Violence Research Center, one in five women in the U.S. will be raped at some point in their lives. Similarly worldwide, one in three women still experience physical or sexual violence mostly occurring at the hands of a romantic partner. But this isn’t all my daughter will face. She will also have to endure a victim-blaming rape-apologizing culture that places the fault of rape cases on the victims rather than the perpetrators of rape. This culture bases whether or not a women was, “asking for it” on things like what the woman was or wasn’t wearing or her level of prior sexual activity, instead of blaming rapist men for perpetrating these violent attacks. Finally, there are other sources of inequality, from recieving less pay than men, to having to face almost daily catcalling and harassment. Of course, my daughter is white and thus privileged, meaning that these dangers and inequalities affect her far less than it does women of color. It is women of color who, due to institutionalized racism that is exacerbated by capitalism, who experience these dangers, violence, and inequalities at unprecedented levels; from even more unequal pay to even more instances of extreme victim blaming.
Moverover, I have been wrestling with even more fear and anxiety than just the inequalities of patriarchy. What if my daughter decided to become an artist, a musician, or anything that our profit-based society deems to be less valuable, thus making it difficult to make money to survive? What if she realizes that she is not cis, but trans, and experiences dysphoria? What if she is able to express herself properly to combat that dysphoria, only to be faced with the disproportional violence that is faced by transpeople today. Will she even be able to make any of these choices if the climate is completely destroyed?
As a Socialist parent I am opposed to profit-driven, racist, sexist, homophobic, and transphobic injustices. I hold this while still realizing we live in one of the most capitalist societies, which stands for completely the opposite values that I do. Given this what can I possibly do to help my child?
My fears made me put a lot of thought into this and I came to a few conclusions after thinking about it for a while now. I see the only real fundamental solution to these problems is a revolutionary overthrow of the entire capitalist system and the implementation of something better. However, until we get there I think us socialist parents can be comforted in knowing that knowledge is power. While we must strive for revolution in any way that we can, we also can use the means of education in order to prepare our daughters, sons, and non-binary children for the violence and traumatization of the male dominated, profit-driven capitalist world.
Given we acknowledge these injustices and oppressions means also realizing that our kids will face these things as realities. We have the ability to prepare them or at least to prepare ourselves. We can prepare them by making sure not to give into capitalist myths about child-rearing by creating an open environment with our children, free of the constraints of typical ideas of gender, or sexual orientation. We can educate ourselves, peruse basic developmental psychology research, possibly check out some forums on the topic, and attempt to give ourselves sets of tools to react to possible situations that may arise with the love or care needed to best help our children. We can teach our boys, girls, and non-binary children to reject macho culture and ideals, to express their feelings, and to always value consent through showing them by example. We can teach our girls and non-binary children that they are not at fault for what men do to them, and we can do our best to prepare them for a world that will be attempting to crush their mind, body, and spirit for power and/or profit, making sure that they can always find a safe place to be themselves at home with us. We can also encourage them to take up the mantle to continue to fight for socialist feminism in our time.
And last, yet undeniably just as important, we can teach them to reject this profit-driven system of capitalism and its male dominated society. Patriarchy, homophobia, and transphobia, and this white-controlled culture of racism, imperialism, ecocide, and genocide are very hard to overcome. But we have an unprecedented opportunity to not only prepare our children to protect themselves, but to prepare them to protect others: to plant the seeds in them of building a new empathetic and cooperative society. One that will cast away the old along with its institutional prejudices. I decided the only way forward is to courageously take up the work to ensure my daughter grows up with socialist feminist values and knows together we can build a better and safer future for us all.