I’m a medical student on a paediatrics placement. My group of 4 was being taught in Paediatric Assessment, a kind of A&E. A couple had been kind enough to let us visit and examine their son. We discussed his development, and why he was in hospital, and I comforted his anxious older sister whilst we examined him. We left them, and my male colleague said “mum was hot”. ‘Mum’ had been so kind to us to enable our learning, was shattered from looking after a baby in respiratory distress, and had a toddler. She did not need to be objectified. It made me feel sick to think this is how my colleague thinks about his patients.
I am working hard in raising my boys to be feminists. My six year old is so proud of his colorfull clothes (boys clothes in Sweden are mostley black or navy blue, so I make an effort go find “happier” clothes) and the fact his best friend thinks he looks like a girl. (Not clothes but his face/body, the friend is a girl if it matters for the story) It breaks my heart that he one day might take “looking like a girl” as an insult. Already his friends opinions about what girls are like and boys are like, weighs more then mums “girls and boys are the same but people are different”-attitude. I’m afraid that I can’t impact them enough and I will loose respect for them as adults.
As a father, I have struggled with protecting my children from sexism. When my daughter was a newborn (until the age of 2) I had trouble convincing my colleagues, friends, and family, that it did not matter what color her clothes was. She was a baby and did not care what she wore. But they all insisted she needed to wear “pretty dresses.” I work hard to find “dolls” for my daughter that did not promote the sexuality of the female body– and I have worked equally hard to convince my son that his super hero figures are “dolls” as well. But what I have found particularly troubling was that the people who seemed fine with allowing my baby daughter to wear “boy” clothes (or whatever it was) when she was a baby, were not OK when I wanted my baby son to wear those same clothes. This includes my wife.