Okay, so the other day, a thing happened on my Facebook with a male academic scholar of Islam (a bunch of thanks and love to all my friends, women and men, academics and non-academics, who responded brilliantly in support of my original statement and in opposition to the way the person had responded! You folks keep me going
The other day, I was going through some grad school-related badness, and it was all happening while I was facetiming with these beauties. And it got bad enough so that it was very visible to them that something was wrong. A few minutes before this, we had been talking about the harms of telling women to “calm down” or “stop being so emotional,” and Kashamala’s younger brother is currently at a stage in his life where he needs to resist and oppose everything that’s being taught to him. So whenever Kashmala points out patriarchy, he HAS to say, “PASHY [his name for her], THAT’S NOT PATRIARCHY!!! THAT’S A GOOD THING!” But he pays attention, he hears, he listens, and he learns all about the things we talk about. So that when I was visibly stressed (and I try not to show them when I’m stressed or frustrated or upset), these two beauties competed over who was going to make me feel better first! Both jumped to ask Siri, “What to do when you’re stressed” (I used the word “stressed” to describe my state). And this was Siri’s response: “Sit down, take a deep breath, stay calm, …” or something like this.
Kashmala’s brother is reading this to me, and the look in his eyes as he slows down when he gets to “stay calm”… uncertain about whether this was an appropriate thing to tell me, since I had just spoken to them about never, ever telling women to calm down (the patriarchy of it all – long story, for another time).
And that’s when I realized he was listening and learning, too. It was overwhelming in the most beautiful ways possible, and it took away all my stress.
These babies are so easy to talk to about things, and I trust no one who tells me that kids shouldn’t be exposed to these kinds of conversations. They’re already observing these things, and they have questions, and we need to be able to talk about these things with them – so far, it’s working, and so far, these babies are being raised to love and value all things justice.
Anyway, so. As I called these baes to tell them about the thing that had happened on my Facebook that day, Kashmala goes, “Shanu … you know what I think?”
Me: What do you think, Janana?
Kashmala: I think we should just stop fighting patriarchy. How come no one else is doing it? How come [Person X and Person Y, other people in our lives] don’t care, and it’s just you and me?
The words broke my heart. This 7-year-old is ready to give up the fight because it’s too difficult to continue without a community. It would take an entire village of people to be a part of it in order to for this child to believe that it’s worth it.
This, ladies and gennelmenz, is why every child deserves to be raised from their youngest days to work towards justice for *all* peoples.
She saw that I had been shocked by these words, though, and so she now calls me to say she promises she was just kidding ❤
Also, you should hear all about the feminism of these children. Kashmala’s older brother learned about misogyny when he was 6 years old (I was a little late with him), Kashmala started noticing patriarchal things when she was about 3 (*I swear all on her own; that’s when I realized I might as well be there with her when she wanted to discuss those observations*), her littler brother started when he was about 4, and they all have also now noticed that all oppressions and other injustices are connected, so they can sit there and have a great conversation on “reverse racism” and white supremacy, too. To say I’m a proud aunt would be a serious understatement.