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How to Raise the Revolutionary’s Children (And Survive)

I don’t know why, Bassem Chiit, our Comrade from the Socialist Forum in Lebanon who passed away in 2014, has been on my mind a lot lately, and when The Rev told me that Bassem mentioned reading my Rev columns at the end of long days sometimes to unwind, it prompted me to write this one.

So this is for you Bassem, in the hope that you can enjoy it from wherever you are.

The Rev and I have kids. Naturally they take after me and are gorgeous, funny, cheeky and clever.

They also hold a healthy dose of skepticism for men as a social group. The fact that I regularly teach them to say ‘men are trash’ might have a little something to do with it.

Naturally, like Karl Marx loved the gazillion children he had with Jenny (that he left her to care for with no money while he was off trying to make the revolution happen (narrator’s voice: it did not happen)), the Rev dearly loves his children and tells them so repeatedly. He’s prone to outbursts of love and affection, ‘my daughters I love them I would die for them’, hereby demonstrating streaks of dramatic toxic masculinity, as if anyone had asked him to prove his love through war and death.

My daughters however are, at 4 and 2, hardened man-hating feminists who have no time for men and their declaration of undying love.

– ‘Nooooonn Papa’ they say, as he tries to cuddle them, and both proceed to swat his hands away in a gesture of such contempt it fills my heart with pure, man-hating joy. They seem to be convinced that their father, and through him boys and men in general, don’t understand a single thing in life and should be given up on as a bad job. Needless fo say, my pride in them knows no bounds.

Each of them have their own minds and have devised their own tactics to topple the patriarchy.

The eldest favours a subtle form of guerrilla warfare, waking up the patriarchal authority figure in her life very early in the morning simply to let him know that she has found her tiara. To manage to raise the patriarchy from its comfortable slumber just to inform it that you’re still Queen is a stroke of genius I wish I’d thought of. Here I was pitifully getting angry and worked up and demonstrating right left and center while my four year old just taught me that all you needed to do was disrupt sleep then sashay away in your pink glittery tutu, a look of triumph on your face and no pity for the enemy in your heart.

Our youngest has no time to waste and no fucks to give, her tactic is search and destroy. In a couple of years time she’ll be punching nazis in true black bloc fashion, but for now she just punches and scratches her father until he bleeds, and cries for me rather than for him, even in the middle of the night, thrashing on the ground if he tries to touch her, which come to think of it I wish she’d stop doing. After all, I am not the patriarchy and should be allowed to sleep.

The Rev, bless his heart, endures and bears all the abuse, even though he blames me for our kids’ lack of confidence in men. He is, however, mistaken. I have merely fed and watered the feminist seed they already had in them, much like Marx fed and watered the revolutionary seed in Engels (and much like Engels just plainly fed Marx and his family).

– But we’re communists! I am a feminist! I am one of you!

– WE ARE NOT COMMUNISTS, I AM A PRINCESS! Get out of my room, only girls allowed!

I won’t lie, while I am extremely happy that my child understands the need for women-only spaces and sees through comrades thinking they’re allies just because they’re communists, I still have the fear that she’ll turn into a royalist, what with all this talk of princesses.

But the Rev and I’s biggest fear remain that both of them become conservative, anti-choice, neo-liberal right wing militants. We observe. We monitor. So far, they share, they protect each other, they’re kind and feisty.

Not a right wing trait in sight.

But we’ll still monitor the situation, just in case.

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