Mom proudly raising feminist sons despite online backlash – 'I want to get rid of toxic masculinity'

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Left to Right: Cooper, Hunter, Charlotte and Spencer together.
Left to Right: Cooper, Hunter, Charlotte and Spencer together.
Photo: @charlotteclemiephotograher/CATERS NEWS
  • Charlotte Clemie says she is raising her three boys to be feminists.
  • The 35-year-old mom says she lets her sons play with her make-up and heels as well as their action men while reminding them about women's struggles.
  • She says her aim is to make her sons realise they're equal to women, not better.
  • Charlotte has also had to teach her husband, Alex, to be more of a feminist.

A woman has explained how she's been given the gift of having sons - which she sees as a chance to raise three feminist men.  

Charlotte Clemie, 35, from Belfast, a former real-life Barbie Doll and Míss Great Britain finalist, is campaigning about proudly raising her sons as feminists, letting them play with her make-up and heels as well as their action men while reminding them about the struggles women have faced.

The Leeds-based photographer, who was raised by two mothers, has always been an avid feminist. Now she's hoping to raise her sons to be the same.

Charlotte, who longed to have daughters, has always been a girly girl but now realises she's been blessed with the opportunity to raise three respectful sons - Spencer, 7, Cooper, 5, and Hunter, 3.

Educating her sons through books and sparking debates on women's history and equality, Charlotte has also had to teach her manly and rugby-playing husband Alex, 39, to be more of a feminist too.

Charlotte explains: "For me, my hope is to bring up my three boys, who will be allies to women. I want them to be able to spot things in the workplace and in society that aren't right and to see women as complete equals.

"I am slowly changing the way Alex thinks as well."

Charlotte admits that she and Alex had "quite strong gender stereotype roles" in the family. 

"He would always take the bins out, and I would do laundry. I realised we were guilty of also following society's rules on gender roles and how we needed to switch it up so the boys can see their mum and dad are equal and to not expect gender roles as they get older.

"They now make a joke of it, saying 'it's Daddy's turn to do the laundry'."

She says she also wanted to make her boys understand "the importance of consent and respecting boundaries, as well as knowing when to step up if something isn't right."

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Feminist mother
L-R Hunter, Charlotte, Cooper and Spencer together.

Charlotte grew up in a feminist household. "My mum works for Women's Aid, so for me, with that background, I've always been super passionate about women's rights, so having three boys made it even more of a passion I can hopefully pass on to them."

She adds: "I read books to them with strong female character leads, to show them women are equal to men, as well as regularly sparking conversations such as 'can you believe it was illegal for women to wear trousers?'" 

Charlotte says her aim is to make her sons realise they're equal to women, not better.

"They are changing, though, I've already noticed it with a few different things, but I still have a journey ahead of me. There have been small changes, such as before they would say, 'Oh, I can't have that; it looks like girls' toys' or 'No, it's pink'.

"I would always reply to them, 'Who says it's a girl's toy' and 'who says you can't have it if it's pink?'"

After reading books like Pink is for Boys and My shadow is Pink, Charlotte says her boys are now more open to wearing the colour. 

"We all completed the Race for Life back in July; all dressed as pink superheroes, and all three of them wore the outfits with pride."

Feminist mother
L-R Spencer, Charlotte, Hunter and Cooper reading together.

Her eldest son is now becoming more aware of gender issues. "When our new Prime Minister was announced, he questioned why America only has 'boy bosses', as he put it.

"I am pleased they are already tuned in to spotting how the privilege of being male is still prominent today."

She adds: "They also play with my make-up and put on my high-heels, but then they'll play with their action men, so they don't just do boyish things."

Her husband doesn't always agree with the boys wearing makeup, says Charlotte. "But I ask him why he's worried. I want to get rid of toxic masculinity and how boys are at the top, showing them women are strong and at the top as well. He knows he has to shift his thinking, and he knows who he married and what he signed up for, but like any other parents, we have different views. When we speak it over we're always in agreement."

Charlotte took her advocacy for feminism to the Miss Great Britain pageant, receiving positive responses from the audience. 

"I have had quite a positive response from this so far; there are so many mums and dads who are saying they love the campaign and that it's something they haven't really thought about. 

"My end goal is to just make parents more conscious of the things we're saying and doing, we're no perfect family ourselves, but I just want to get rid of stereotypes."

READ MORE | Mom allows teen son to wear her wedding dress to school to protest his friend's suspension

Feminist mother
L-R Cooper, Hunter, Charlotte and Spencer together.

Charlotte says she hopes to encourage her sons to show their emotions freely.  

"With male suicide rates being so high, I never want my boys to feel like they can't show emotion. I want them to know they can open up and show their feelings."

Even though she has received backlash for her parenting style online, she says it's all about teaching her sons to respect their female counterparts and treat them as equals. 

"I always like to stress this is not about bringing up feminine boys. I'm not a mum who just wanted girls and is forcing her boys to play with Barbie dolls.

"I have seen comments from people saying you shouldn't force children to be a certain way and to think a certain way, but I can't think of anyone who wouldn't want to bring their children up to see everyone as equals."

Source: @charlotteclemiephotograher/CATERS NEWS/

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