I don’t know how this is possible but somehow my children (MY! CHILDREN!) ask me once a month what a “feminist” is.
“I know what venomous is,” Eli said last night when it came up. “Is that the same?”
“Sometimes,” I said. “When necessary. A feminist is someone who believes women are equal. And sometimes you gotta scare people a little to get there…”
I think the reason this definition doesn’t stick is because both of them find the concept of gender inequality so strange. The reason it comes up every month is because every month they get a delivery from the Little Feminist Book Club, one of my new favorite startups.
There’s nothing not to love about this based on the name alone, right? But it’s actually even better than it sounds. It’s not a million age-appropriate stories of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The founder, Brittany Murlas, is modeling what adult feminists should do more of: Fight for the inclusion of everyone, not just women. My kids get a mix of stories about different cultures, different ethnicities, different religions, and last night we opened one especially perfect for my house, “Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story about Gender and Friendship.”
In it, Teddy, a boy bear, decides to become Tilly, a girl bear. The part my kids loved the most was when she changed her bow tie to a hair bow. It is very un-radical. The bear’s decision to start representing as a girl is as simple as it should be in real life. She felt sad, she articulated to her friends why and they hugged and started calling her “Tilly.”
I looked up after I was done reading it, and I think I saw little tiny tears in Eli’s eyes. (I’d already sobbed when I opened the package, so I was good by then.)
Is it too much to hope all parents opting into something called THE LITTLE FEMINIST BOOK CLUB would share these values? Apparently, yes.
Last week, I saw a message on the company’s Facebook page about an angry message from a customer. Here’s what Brittany wrote:
“I got the most upset email I’ve ever received from a customer last night, and it rocked my confidence. They asked for a return label because they didn’t want our book pick ‘Introducing Teddy’ in their house.
…My team spent over six months looking for a story to help families explore the meaning of gender at home, and this book was by far the best. But…I guess this isn’t about the book specifically, is it?
It’s about Little Feminist including a book about being trans, a book that questions gender assigned at birth. I spent several hours doubting myself last night – did I make a huge mistake in giving my thumbs up to this book & theme? But I went to sleep with this conclusion: if we’re not pushing the envelope in our book picks, then we’re not doing our job. In fighting for diverse books each and every day, we are bound to make ourselves and others uncomfortable.”
I’m, obviously, in full agreement. Some potential Chairman Mom investors have warned me against being too “coastal” and “elitist” by encouraging and featuring so many questions about gender fluidity on our site. But just as we don’t think white supremacy is a valid “political belief” deserving of respect, we don’t believe there is anything “coastal” or “elite” about equality. (And I say that as the mom of a son who wears dresses when he visits the deep South.)
Chairman Mom believes the world will be better when women have economic self-sufficiency and equality. And if you truly believe that’s what’s right, then you have to also want those things for everyone. Also, tactically, it’s smart: Together, vulnerable and marginalized populations more than have the numbers.
If anyone has an issue with Tilly or Eli or any kids like them, I’ll tell you what I told that investor: This company isn’t the place for you.
And go give Little Feminist Book Club some love for sticking up for the little Tillys out there.
(BTW: We have a TON of content about gender fluidity on Chairman Mom…)
Here are our questions of the day!
- If you took your full maternity leave, did you suffer any retaliation?
- Let’s talk about sex, baby…How do you work yourself out of a dry spell?
– Sarah Lacy