“On every single page I have the word ‘feminism’ or ‘feminist’ with the word ‘boy.'”
Trendy Feminist Children’s Book Will ‘Eradicate Gender’ by Indoctrinating Boys to Wear Dresses and Cook
An upcoming children’s book aims to “normalize boys as feminists” and “eradicate gender stereotypes,” according to the promotional website.
“Feminism Is for Boys” was created by Elizabeth Rhodes, an illustrator based in Portland, Oregon-based who describes herself as “an advocate for women’s rights” and a “self-proclaimed feminist.” According to Rhodes, the book will help parents to “inspire boys to connect with the word feminist,” in part by “representing diverse boys.”
Capturing diversity, Rhodes’ illustrations represent boys and girls of different ethnicities and predilections and claim to show that: “Boys can play sports with girls, wear dresses, cook, play with dolls, express emotions, be friends with all genders, and believe in equality.”
“It has been a common misconception in our culture that feminism is reserved for women, and is pursued at the detriment of men,” Rhodes says on her website. “This is not the case. In fact, when feminism is truly successful, all genders will benefit.”
Rhodes says that the book, which will be released in February, was inspired by her daughter, Alora, “a loud, strong, fierce human” and by her husband, Russell, who, according to Rhodes, “identifies as a feminist and proudly teaches Alora to expect equality.”
In an interview with the Mini Feminist blog, Russell said that he grew up a “happy, smiley kid,” but always felt that his personality did not fit with the concept of masculinity that society expected of him. With his biological father often absent, Russell was raised by his then-step dad, who gave him his last name.
“I worked through many issues of my own, and struggled through finding out my own sexual, personal, and spiritual identities,” Russell said. “Feminism felt like the obvious choice growing up and I never understood why everybody treated it like a bad word.”
Rhodes said that meeting Russell allowed her to feel for the first time like a woman who’s not expected to fit into a “sexual role.” This sense of liberation gave her the impetus to write the book.
“I had reached a point in my own feminist journey where I wanted to start sharing and being more active in feminist ideas. This book has allowed me to focus some of that energy,” Rhodes told Mini Feminist. “I’m hoping to diminish gender stereotypes and norms. Hopefully, there won’t be taboos around boys wearing dresses, boys playing with dolls, boys cooking, or boys expressing their emotions freely.”
Rhodes believes that the way to make this change is through language. “On every single page I have the word ‘feminism’ or ‘feminist’ with the word ‘boy.’ I wanted to repeat it over and over so it’s ingrained, so those two words together aren’t strange or foreign for people to hear,” she said.
Rhodes follows a contemporary kind of feminism that no longer holds legal equality as the end goal of social progress, but instead targets human psychology, seeking to rewrite entirely how people speak ― and think ― about gender dynamics.