On Feminism & Diversity: Raising a Feminist Daughter

Raising a Feminist Daughter

So, the other day I was reading comments on the black dolls article and Angélica mentioned that she encourages her daughter to play with trucks and other toys that might be considered gender specific by most parents.  This got me thinking about my daughter and the way we try to raise her both “girly” in some respects, and in others “tomboyish”.  I was a tomboy growing up…hated all things “girly” and I always hated being teased about my clothes and choice of toys and activities because of it.  I was the little girl with short cropped hair, a baseball cap, jeans and a tee-shirt.  I played football and basketball with the boys and was repelled by Barbies (Sorry Barbie…you’re not welcome en mi casa!).  It wasn’t easy when I was young, but of course, my parents didn’t really know how to support my choices either.  I think that parents today are much more aware of gender issues than they were even 20 years ago.  A lot of that probably comes from the development and availability of information on the internet, but I’m sure that civil rights movements have also given us privileges that we wouldn’t have otherwise had.

I have to admit, hearing other parents talk about their journey to be more inclusive of out-of-the-box ideas makes me smile.  =)  We’re a generation that thinks critically about parenting.  We analyze every decision and we research every technique before putting it into practice.   Parents are becoming conscious of health, gender, race, socioeconomic status, green living and so many other elements that promote positive and thoughtful parenting.

In my own journey I’ve made sure that my daughter has monster trucks, karate gear, princess costumes, dolls, remote controlled cars and My Little Ponies.  She sleeps in our bed, nurses, scrambles her own eggs and picks out her clothes.  She has a diversity of bilingual and multicultural books and toys, and she makes friends without prejudice.  I wish that I could say I had grown up with such diversity and open-minded ideas in my childhood.  I’m sure that sometimes my decisions are based on prejudice (I can’t stand pink!) but I always try to challenge myself to question why that prejudice exists and then break down those barriers.  This website, for example, is all in pink!  ;)  Strange for a person who hates pink, right?  But after I had my daughter, I realized that I could learn to love pink and that it wasn’t the color of oppression, as I had believed it to be before.  When I was a kid, I was pushed to conform with traditional “femininity”, but as an adult I don’t have to worry what anyone thinks.  For my daughter, she can be girly or not…that’s entirely up to her.  :)  Let’s do her one better…she can be both, como su mami!  ;)

Just for fun, I thought I would include some cute photos of my daughter in her adorable “Karate Princess” costume. Yes, it’s really a Kimono, but don’t tell her that!  ;)  My mother was a missionary in Japan and I can’t help but sneak in bits of the culture here and there.  More on that in another post!  ;)  I’ll leave you with the above collage of some seriously cute Halloween photos…that’s my tough little “girly” girl!  ♥

Facebook Comments


  • Me and the Mexican
    April 16, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    She is precious! You are such a great mom! Your open mindness is such a blessing. She will have grown in other ways that some kids have not! I'm so thankful my child is living in a supportive, non racist, openminded house!
    Loving your post!

    • Chantilly Pati&ntild
      April 16, 2011 at 1:42 pm

      Thank you Tara. :) I love your posts too. Your blog is a nice respite from my usual serious posts. I was talking with my hubby about the "Soy-rizo" and he said he's had it before! Can you believe that? Lol! Anyway, now I'm going to have to try it! ;)

  • Ezzy Guerrero-Languz
    April 17, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Que bonita! Your approach to parenting is refreshing. Enough with the stereotypes, right? I wish my husband could've been so open-minded when our son started to mimic cutting his stuffed animals' fur, after watching me cut hair in a hair salon. ; ) I keep trying to tell him how much kids learn through play. Would've never guessed you used to see pink as the color of "oppression." *LOL* By the way, I've always been repelled by Barbie, too.

    • Chantilly Pati&ntild
      April 17, 2011 at 11:50 am

      Haha…yeah, I hated pink for the longest time because it was the mark of being "girly" and was always pushed on me. Even when I got married my mother-in-law pushed me to be more feminine and would criticize me for not wearing dresses and skirts…loquita! But after I had my daughter everything changed. I love her toughness and her delicateness (is that a word?).

      I'm sorry that you're hubby is having a hard time with your son finding his creative and imaginative side. I know it can be very difficult for men because they are pushed very hard as boys to recognize certain things as "gay" or feminine and they are constantly pushed to be "manly" and masculine. My hubby was much different when I met him and he has grown a lot with having a daughter. Something that I prayed for a lot before we were married. I'm sure that in time your hubby will grow in his knowledge of what it means to be a man and what is expected of a boy.

      My husband is still learning, but sometimes I think his gift of Dyslexia makes him more open-minded to these kinds of issues. Probably one of the same reasons why your son is so compassionate and open-minded. ♥

  • Notas de Mama
    February 15, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    Well done Mama! Why all the girls have to be "princesses" nowadays??? If I ever have a daughter I'd like her to be an independent and confident girl first. If she decides she wants to be "a princess" that is her choice but I won't impose it to her by teaching her girls are princesses and boys are football players. No princesses in this house! =)

    • biculturalmom
      February 16, 2012 at 3:34 am

      @Notas de Mama Thank you! I totally agree! There’s nothing wrong with being a princess, but it should just be one small facet of how a girl values herself. So much more important to be strong, good-willed, independent and intelligent. ;) Same in our house…we’re saying ‘no’ to gender roles. So glad you stopped by! :)

  • melanie
    November 21, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    So glad to hear about parents raising feminist children. While I do believe that what we wear, do, play with, etc is important is shaping our identity, I also think it's also about the power dynamics that girls and boys see and hear that really shape their identity as feminists. I recently had an argument with a close friend about this exactly-she criticized me for allowing one my nieces to play with baby dolls, saying that I was raising her to merely be a mother. She was so proud of herself that she has "gender neutral dolls" in her house. But I asked the question (which was applicable to her case): Will lack of dolls (or pink, or princesses, etc) really create a strong, independent daughter? Or, is it more about not seeing momma slaving away for daddy who treats her like crap? My friend has gender neutral dolls, but there is also a power misalignment in her house where she is subservient to her man. I think more importantly than dolls, toys, clothes, etc is that we must be role models for our girls that we want equality, equal payment, equal treatment, that we can do anything that we set our mind to, that we don't need a man to be financially secure, etc. Girls can be frilly and pink and girly and feminine and still be feminists, right? I just recently had this epiphany because I also hated pink until recently . Now excuse me while I put on my cute hello kitty pink shirt and kick up my feet while my man does all the cooking and cleaning lol.

    • Chantilly Patiño
      Chantilly Pati&ntild
      November 21, 2012 at 4:36 pm

      Yes! I couldn't agree more. So many women criticize…you're a stay-at-home/work-at-home mom, so how could you possibly be a feminist? Ok, so feminism and motherhood are incompatible? If I am to be a woman, I have to give up my other identity as a mother?

      I don't subscribe to this mentality at all. The problem that I have with sexism is that it MANDATES a woman to be feminine, submissive, etc. A woman should decide on her own how she wants to lead her life…that's what a feminist does. She makes those choices for herself and irregardless of the pressure that family, friends or society may place upon her.

      Great comment Melanie! And thanks so much for stopping by. I've missed chatting with you. ;)

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