Poem: Raising a boy, as a feminist

On the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration, the editor Annie Ridout was in hospital having just given birth to a baby boy. Here, she reflects on what it means to be raising a boy in 2017…

I couldn’t make it to the Women’s March the day after Trump was – shockingly – inaugurated as the 45th US president. But I was there in spirit, and delighted to see so many hundreds of thousands of women around the world marching for sexual equality.

At the time, I was recovering in hospital, having just given birth to a beautiful little boy. I lay there, contemplating the role of women and men in society and the importance of both sexes continuing to fight for equality – of every kind. In this poem I focus on raising a boy, as a feminist.

Raising a boy, as a feminist

It was easy having a daughter,
because I knew just what to say:
“You can do anything you want to;
nothing will get in your way.
Well, there may be some tricky obstacles –
but you can kick them to the side.
Take up all the space that you can in the world –
you never have to hide.”

It’s harder having a son, because
he already knows his place –
it’s up at the front, at the head of the table
it’s winning without having to chase.
He’ll be offered the jobs that a woman could do –
and told it’s because he’s best.
But it could be because he won’t leave to give birth,
or request equal pay – and the rest…

And so my son needs to learn to be canny,
to treat girls and boys the same:
whether friend or foe or competitor –
we’re all equal (well, that’s the aim).
When men in power deride his sisters
for virtue of having a womb –
I’ll teach him to rise up in solidarity,
to bring decency back to the room.

But he also needs encouragement
as he makes his way through life,
because although things may just land in his lap –
there will still be struggle and strife.
Boys have emotions,
males can be sensitive too.
Men have to vie for attention
in the same way that women do.

It’s just that when men shout, they’re heard.
And when men fight, they win.
And when men sit at the table –
they don’t always let women in.
So I’d like to tell my boy, to
be brave and follow his dreams.
But remember the battles his sister will face
and work together; we achieve more in teams.

By Annie Ridout