If you’re looking for feminist and gender-inclusive gifts for an expectant friend (and her baby), here are some suggestions.
I recently had the honor of helping organize a baby shower registry for a friend. Except there was one tiny problem: She already had all the basic baby stuff covered.
So I turned this potential glitch into an opportunity to poll all my friends for great feminist gift ideas for a mom-to-be. I wanted to come up with things that would not only make a social justice-minded woman smile, but that, in most cases, could work for dads, too.
So if you’re looking for feminist and gender-inclusive gifts for an expectant friend (and her baby), here are some suggestions:
BOOKS FOR MOM:
There are parenting books, and then there are feminist parenting books. As every good feminist knows, the personal is political. And nothing is more personal than family.
Everyone needs a guide for how to help shape a family based on equality and mutual respect. When you need solid, thoughtful advice and perspectives about being the kind of mom you want to be (and a person, too) my friends tell me that these are good places to start:
As a bonus book for both mom and babe, Don’t Move the Muffin Tins is a book about helping kids embrace their inner artist independently and with lots of confidence. And what’s life without art?
STRESS RELIEF & COMFORT:
From what I understand, having a newborn means being home a lot and generally stressed as hell. Here are two suggestions for helping your friend with both:
Comfy footwear: If you know your friend’s shoe size and like her a lot, spring for these Ugg slippers. I can tell you from experience that they make the simple act of shuffling around your house feel like a day at the spa. If you’re not so sure about size (or budget), plush socks that won’t skid can also do the trick (the non-skidding part is a big deal when there’s a newborn involved).
Coloring books: Since recent studies have shown coloring to be a major stress reliever, adult coloring books have been all the rage. You can jump on this bandwagon feminist style by buying your friend the Badass Feminist Coloring Book by Ijeoma Oluo. You can also give her the fun and quirky “Unicorns Are Jerks,” displaying all the different everyday scenarios in which unicorns are total assholes (I mean, lampooning fairytale creatures is kind of feminist, right?). And of course, there are just straight-up stress relieving coloring books like this one.
Don’t forget the colored pencils and pencil sharpener!
If you’re going to be carrying around a kid all the time, you might as well take advantage of the free messaging potential their little bodies present. Give your friend a cool “My Mother Doesn’t Want Your Advice” onesie or a Future Feminist bodysuit. For moms with a darker sense of humor, you can also add a “Shut Up About Babies” shirt to the pack.
BOOKS (AND A MOVIE) FOR BABY:
For a well-rounded child that appreciates diversity, works for social justice, cares about marginalized people, values knowledge, is aware of inequality, and embraces activism, your friend is going to have to teach him or her about the world through different perspectives. Somehow, children’s books are able to handle the most challenging topics in the most magical ways. These books center on people of color, women, girls, people struggling with poverty, gay, lesbian, and transgender people, and others often left out of traditional stories. A bunch of them are gender-neutral—one features union-organizing cows—and another even covers the birds and the bees. You can help your friend get her fabulous kid’s library started with these:
Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales, and True Tales by Virginia Hamilton (This is a personal favorite of mine with beautiful, vivid illustrations and a carefully researched collection of African-American stories and myths.)
A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams (This one comes highly recommended.)
And if you’re trying to kick off the baby’s feminist film collection, my personal favorite feminist fairy tale is Whale Rider starring Keisha Castle-Hughes. A badass girl of color destined to lead her people? There’s nothing better. Every kid should have this film.
So, there you go. Now, the tough part will be deciding which gift to leave behind.
Khadijah Costley White is an assistant professor in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. Find her on Twitter here.