A piece of paper with "Do you want to join a club for female empowerment. We are the leaders" written on it.

Baby Feminist Power and Helping Children Join the Movement

This viral note by a fourth grader offering a secret invite to a club for “female empowerment,” left me cheering at my desk this week. The baby feminist power brought hope at a fitting time, after the International Women’s Strike, and was a needed reminder of the power of including children in our protests and conversations.

Given the opportunity, they too can organize change. So here are four ways we can encourage the kids in our lives to feel empowered and discover their own radical feminist voices.

1. TEACH THEM THE CORRECT LANGUAGE Using euphemisms or simplifying our language when answering questions does children a disservice, especially when it comes to their sexual health.  Research shows that teaching kids words like vulva, vagina, and penis (rather than “private parts” or “bathing suit areas”) could help kids learn about consent and communicate boundaries (pretty intuitive right?). This is not to say that our job as adults is to throw terms and information at children before they’re ready—rather we owe kids honest answers to the questions they’re capable of voicing.

We also need to be giving kids language to talk about the systems they’re inheriting. These systems will affect them long before they learn about them in school, and it’s important we start the conversations early. It’s important to teach children about socioeconomic class and help them understand the value of money. We should be teaching children about privilege, and actually using the word privilege. And we should teach kids about race, and use the word racism.

2. OFFER RESOURCES  Obviously educating kids about big things on your own, even with the help of a partner or school system, is a tough task. So here are some awesome resources for helping children learn about feminism, themselves, and the world:

Leave your favorite empowering resources, books, links, etc. in the comments!

3. LEAD BY EXAMPLE Bring kids to protests, meetings, marches, and conversations. Give them a seat at the table, ask their opinions, and then really listen to their answers. This practice comes with caveats—it is as much a child’s right to attend a protest, as it is their right to ask to go home early. The point is that if we allow an opportunity for discussion, we empower our kids to know their voices matter.  In my work with kids, I often remind myself to model the behavior I want to see with the adults I work with. I try and discuss topics openly, practice active listening, and let others know when I am feeling strongly about something. I use words like “angry” or “hurt” in an effort to show that vulnerability is a form of strength, and to stress the importance of communication.

4. LET THEM LEAD Lastly, look to the kids. If you’re going to a protest together, ask them what they want their signs to say. Let them take the signs they’ve made, even if they can’t write. If they want to start a club for female empowerment, help them organize a time and then stay silent while they lead. It is easy to lose hope, and to assume our job is to protect kids from the hurt happening in the world. But children are smart, and capable, and powerful. Perhaps the real work is instead in teaching children they are strong enough to protect themselves.

Header image via Twitter

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