Guest Blog

Guest Blog: My sons… you are strong, you are powerful, you are important by Liz Giannopoulos

Thank you to Liz Giannopoulos for sending this brilliant blog post in. If you’d like to share your story please get in touch: 

I’m an ordinary British Mum. I have an American husband and we live in a modest terraced house in SW London. I’m self employed, working with local children. I juggle my business with my family commitments so I can be at home for my kids whilst my husband works long hours.

On 21 January 2017 I joined the Women’s March in London. I’ve never been on a march before. I marched for the dignity and equality of all people regardless of gender, nationaility, religious beliefs or sexual persuasion. I marched for acceptance and inclusion, in opposition to division and expulsion. I marched for transparency and honest in politics to allow the voting public to make well-informed decisions with a clear understanding of the consequences. My placard, inspired by the Manic Street Preachers, read if we tolerate this, our children will be next.

My son J (age 12) marched alongside me with his home-made sign: Love Trumps Hate. If I’m honest he was very cold and a little bored waiting for the c.100,000 strong crowd to get moving, but once we were on our way he roared! I am unutterably proud. Standing outside the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square (where my youngest son was registered as an American Citizen born Abroad), we watched the sea of faces and placards around us. J was particularly drawn to anti-Trump posters – because that’s a concept he can easily understand; President Fart and We Shall Overcomb appealed to his pre-teen humour, but more seriously, he admired Respect Existence or Expect Resistance.

An under-graduate from Durham University, conducting research for a dissertation, asked J why he was marching. He told her he disagrees with Trump’s view that black people, women and religious minorities are less important than white middle-class men. Admittedly, this is a simplistic summary but it’s a good start. There will be plenty of time for me to explain LGBTQ rights, reproductive freedom and domestic violence as he gets older.

When we returned from the march, my younger son A (age 6) asked why we had marched. I asked him who was more important in his class at school, the girls or the boys, the brown children or the white children, or the child who needs extra help in lessons. He declared with absolute certainty that they are all equally important. I explained that we were marching to tell people that’s what we think because not everyone agrees.

The pursuit of equality requires optimism and tenacity. The ball that was push-started by the Suffragettes 100 years ago is still rolling. But change comes about slowly and there is a long way to go. There is still a deep-rooted divisive culture promoted and nurtured by white-male-dominated leaders that must be challenged. I am disappointed by the new and unexpected obstacles that appeared in 2016 throughout the world, but particularly in Europe and the US. I believe it is up to my generation to maintain momentum and I take up that challenge through my children.

10 years from now, my son J will (hopefully) be living and working independently. He is the next generation; a colleague certainly, a leader maybe, a husband perhaps, a father if he so chooses. He will be a man. I wish for my son to be a strong man like his Dad; to show respect to those who have earned it, to commend colleagues on their business acumen, not their skin colour or their skirt; to champion honesty, integrity and transparency. I wish for him to be supportive of his wife (or husband) and to recognise that life together is a partnership. I wish for him to accept people and their right to hold beliefs that are different to his own. I wish for him to champion his values and encourage others to follow his moral compass.

He will learn these lessons by seeing how the people around him behave. It has started already; he is from a multi-cultural family, we have friends in a gay marriage, his school friend goes to a mosque, he is learning to cook, he can use a washing machine, he understands that ‘no’ means no. There are some things I wish he didn’t have to see, but they will help him to grow too.

On the march, I saw many, many girls carrying signs declaring we are strong, we are powerful, we are important. Parents of these girls, I salute you and pledge to raise sons who will salute your daughters. My sons, you too are strong, you too are powerful and you too are important. As you become men, be sure to stand beside these strong women.

Written by Liz Giannopoulous.

Liz is mum to two amazing boys, director of a SW London piano school, and generally a whirling dervish of activity! Follow Liz on Twitter or Facebook.

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