Family / Parenting

Lesbians Raising Sons

IMG_2503What is it like to be a boy raised by two women? It’s not a question I think about often and one I’ve only asked my son a few times. He has said that boys and girls, men and women are different–a fact in his mind and one he attributes to brain chemistry even though he’s never read anything about it. He is a constant blur of motion and yet he is such an astute observer that I would believe his declaration even without the scientific evidence to support it. But he has also said that he does not know what a father could provide for him that we don’t and I believe him when he says that too because he has never been one to spare our feelings. My guess is that his experience of being raised by two women is a mix of thoughts and feelings, a blend of contentment with the life he knows and curiosity about the experiences of families unlike his.

A few weeks ago, we were all getting ready for dinner, moving around each other as we set the table and brought the food in from the kitchen. Sometimes, I feel the magic of family in those simple moments of good natured bickering and the sound of plates meeting the table and the clinking of silverware and that night, I felt that, the perfection of imperfect family.

Right before we sat down to eat, Miguel said, “I have a topic for conversation tonight,” and we nodded and hummed and he continued, “I want to talk about reverse sexism.” I burst into laughter and Luisa smiled and said, “Well, first of all, there is no such thing as reverse sexism…”

He explained that a girl at school had come up to him and said, “I would never date you because you are too short.” He had not asked her out or had any interaction with her that prompted this statement and he was annoyed. She went on to say that girls like big guys who can protect them.

As his mother, I was offended on his behalf because he is cute and smart and funny and also has a black belt in martial arts. As a woman, I wanted to sit that girl down and have a long talk with her about stereotypes of both men and women. Both Luisa and I said as much but he insisted the incident with this girl was evidence of reverse sexism because she was judging him based solely on his appearance.

IMG_2501In the 45 minute conversation that followed, we talked about gender stereotypes, violence against women, rape culture and explained in detail systemic sexism and racism and why there is no such thing as the reverse. We talked about biases and how they hurt us all and he hung in there arguing with us, even making a strong case for using the label of humanist rather than feminist. Our daughter listened and added a few thoughts but eventually excused herself because she doesn’t have the stamina for arguments that our son does.

As the conversation wound down, he brought it back to the girl who’d commented on his height, “Why is it acceptable for a girl to comment on my body and unacceptable for me to comment on hers?” And we explained that it isn’t but it’s also complicated. He held up his hands and said, “You are both women and our perspectives are different.”

That is the essential truth here, the answer to the question of what’s it like to be raised by two women. I knew in that moment that the conversation was unique to our family or families like ours. He was outnumbered. Our view of the world is connected to our experience as women and his is connected to his experience as a boy. As parents, we want him to have a greater understanding of the world he lives in and to think critically about our culture. And I believe he does and his willingness to argue with us and grapple with these issues expands our understanding as much as it does his. Our perspectives are different–will always be different–my greatest hope is that we are all better for it.

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5 Comments

  1. i have had versions of this conversation and have wondered if they are asking the same questions in their dad’s house.

  2. Timing is impeccable: wrote similar story about raising my boy in our house full of girls; my own female slant to parenting that i make no apologies for. Bravo on momming a great son.

  3. Deborah Goldstein says:

    I have some words for that girl, but they are not very lady-like.

    Always love peeking into scenes at your house. You have such fantastic conversations that I wish I could access online for future reference.

  4. How could I have missed this? For all the times I”ve seen “boys are just like girls” I have to shout out in my small space of the world, that they’re not. My world will always be different from my sons, and the things he says to me he has finally come to realized are not solely my opinion, but my reality rooted in being a woman. The light went on for my son this past summer. “You’re always going to say that, because you’re a woman.” The answer to t hat is yes, I will, because I am the first female he’s had experience with, and I know the seeds of his future interactions will have my voice piping in the subconscious. I am there, because every male needs to know the perspective from a woman’s world. (this was awesome, v)

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