INTERVIEW: A mother talks gender roles, child-rearing, and feminism

7 May

For this Mother’s Day Eve post, I interviewed my cousin Megan, who will be celebrating her very first Mother’s Day with adorable baby Kai Alexander and husband Jeremy.

MISLABELED:     How has motherhood made you more or less appreciative of the female form?

MEGAN: I have become more aware of what my body is capable of – being able to create and give birth to a child as well as to breastfeed that child has given me a whole new respect for my body.

MISLABELED:     What motivated you and Jeremy’s decision to wait until Kai was born to find out his sex?

MEGAN: A large part of the motivation for me was I didn’t want to have a lot of boy or girl themes to the nursery and all our baby’s clothes. I don’t mind him having clothes that are obviously for a boy but I didn’t want that to be solely what he had. I also loved the idea of being surprised at birth and just loving this baby for who they were regardless of the gender.

MISLABELED:     Are you trying to maintain that kind of unassuming parenting style now that Kai is born? Has this been challenging? Rewarding?

MEGAN:   Yes, I try to buy Kai toys that he is drawn to regardless if they are made for a boy or girl. Often times he gets gifts that are for boys; however, that doesn’t really bother me. It probably bothers Jeremy more when I get him the pink sleep sack because it’s on sale…

MISLABELED:     Does Kai play with any toys that are stereotypically “feminine”?

MEGAN:  He has a bright pink snuggly that’s very soft and I often put it in his crib for him to snuggle with at night. Most of the toys he plays with are more neutral like a wagon he loves, a set of plastic balls (although that sounds more masculine than it is) and of course his favorites are Tupperware and boxes.

MISLABELED:     What reactions has this evoked from you, Jeremy, other family members, or friends?

MEGAN: Jeremy uses his pink snuggly more than I do but was a little disturbed when his step-mom bought it for him. He won’t let me bring any girlie clothes when we go to his family’s house in North Carolina because they are pretty conservative and I think he just doesn’t want to hear their crap, for lack of a better way to say that.

MISLABELED:     What gender values do you want to instill in Kai, if any?

MEGAN:  The biggest thing I want to instill is equality. I want Jeremy and me to be an example of an equal partnership in our chores at home. Jeremy has been working less hours lately and is more responsible for things at home so that plan is working so far!

MISLABELED:     I noticed that Kai has a Facebook profile. Do you have any reservations about your child’s life being documented in the online sphere?

MEGAN:  Yeah, Jeremy created that account while I was at work. I am not a fan of him having the account but I know Jeremy never updates it so I let it go. I know on our Picasa account we intentionally haven’t posted any bath tub or naked kind of pictures out of concern for someone exploiting them.

MISLABELED:     What does feminism does mean to you?

MEGAN:  “The radical idea that women are people too.” I know that’s a cheesy bumper sticker quote but it’s true. I still think women have a long road to go before we really are equal – the wage differences and awful benefits for mothers are evidence of that to me. Also, after working at a domestic violence agency I see what an awful impact the objectification of women has and I am determined to keep my son from engaging in that.

MISLABELED:     How do you relate to the feminist movement, if at all?

MEGAN:  I have become more interested in equality in the workplace and supporting working parents more recently – I consider this a feminist issue because moms usually bear the brunt of the childcare – taking off when kids are sick, taking leave when kids are born, etc.

This post is brought to you by Kelsey.


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