Why our books are gender neutral but not
When I sat down to write ‘Notes To My Future Son’ I thought about making it exactly the same book with a different cover and a different opening essay. I’m not going to raise my kids to have seperate identities based on their genitalia and I never intended for this to become a series that sat safely in our gender-normative society.
I started to write notes to My Future Daughter 5 years ago now. It was a funny campaign on social to try and get women to listen to issues surrounding their health- ‘don’t wear a onesie to a music festival’, ‘call your mama’ and ‘drinking out of single use plastic containers can lead to endocrine disruption’. And it got big fast and a couple of years later it was turned in to a book. I get to write about things that are important to me like women’s health, complimentary medicine, feminism, inclusiveness, environmental sustainability, food ethics and love. What a job.
When Notes To My Future Daughter was released, I had already become a single mama to a little chicka. As well as an even more fierce feminist. So, when people kept saying where’s Notes To My Future Son?’ I was pretty adamant that it was ‘2018 and it was definitely our turn’. It was the height of the #metoo movement and our eyes were being opened to the culture of violence against women on a scale and a platform we could no longer avert our gaze from. In a conversation, with my bother I talked about the ‘course-correction’ I expected, as women filled more positions of power. And he told me to maybe look it to it some more.
So, Notes To My Future Son began. It began to help women. I knew that if we filled more CEO chairs we became more in danger. That this ‘course-correction’ I was hoping for was actually going to polarise our community and the groups of ‘toxic males personalities’ were going to get louder and more violent. I know that in order to protect my daughter from physical, psychological, sexual or domestic violence at the hands of violent men, we needed to stop raising male perpetrators.
I began my research by interviewing men, then speaking to dads, then mums and then hitting the research. And I was wrong, well my approach was wrong. I was so focused on protecting women, I hadn’t realised that we need to protect boys too. We need to protect boys from traditional social constructs and broken systems and the patriarchy. And from that point this book stopped being so myopic and far more compassionate. I realised that there were fundamental breakdowns that severed the safety of boys over the course of their coming-of-age. That because of societal pressures, even the most gentle of mothers toughen up their boys to prepare them for a world that will not hold them the way they do. As a society, we are failing boys and they are suffering. And they are in so much pain, we are losing them because there is no place in this world that is safe enough for them to be.
Suicide in Australia in our male population is amongst the highest in the world. Highly preventable cardiovascular disease is killing our women. And I know I’m not the only one telling you these things. But I am here to tell you that you have the power to change the systems that are failing us. How and where you spend your money, the marches you turn up to, the petitions that you sign and the things that you refuse to avert your gaze from, matter. Please do not lose hope because hope and positive actions are all that we have.
In answer to your questions, yes there are plans for a gender neutral book in our future. Please know that the notes in each book already are. Please read both books to all of your children, know that they intended not only to teach them but to heal you. I just know the best ways to get to you is to speak to them.
I love you,