Wanting to raise a feminist son has forced me to confront some of my own uncomfortable biases. But a world without gender benefits boys just as much as girls.

From boys to feminists: raising a child in a gender-free environment

“He’s a bit violent sometimes.”

It just slipped out of my mouth as I was recording an audio message for my friend Claudia. I was speaking about my son Lorenzo, eight months old at the time. I had probably said that as a reaction to him pulling my hair or biting me while I was distractedly speaking on the phone – most likely in an effort to get my attention.

Claudia’s reply felt like being doused with a bucket of cold water: “How can you say he’s violent! He’s just a clumsy baby!”

I consider myself feminist, liking Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s definition of the term: “a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes”. As such, I’ve become aware of language being used in ways that stereotype by gender. But as language lags behind progressive ideas, I’ve also written before about my struggle with masculine pronouns.

Yet there I was, assuming that my eight-month-old child was being violent, just because he’s a boy. 

Violence, aggressiveness, strength and competitiveness are traits we tend to associate with …

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