My Manifesto as a Mother to My Unborn Child

By Vids Hingad ’25

I had the opportunity to take a gender and women’s studies class this semester. This was one of my final assignments for this class. This is a testament to the kind of learning we do at Pomona College.

Dear child,

There’s not a lot that I can say. There is nothing that your tiny hands can’t conquer: whether you decide to paint the world or hold a sword and fight your battles. You were born into this world to make it your own regardless of who you identify as. Your identity is a strength, and I promise you that I will celebrate that with you. As your mother, I know that I will make mistakes, and for that I am eternally apologetic. As your mother, I know that I will make mistakes, and for that I am eternally apologetic. As your mother, I feel the innate need to protect you against the darkness, but not so much so that the light blinds you. You shouldn’t fear your shadows. As your mother, I want you to reach beyond the stars and explore every galaxy there is, but I do not want you to forget your roots. As your mother, I want to give you the world, but not just hand it to you. I want you to earn it. This is what my parents taught me, and their parents taught them and so forth. This is our legacy. You may choose to change it, and I give you that choice, as was given to me by my parents.

  1. Be unapologetic

This world will expect you to apologize for existing. The world will criticize you for who you are, what you do, why you exist. I cannot eradicate every criticism, even though I strive to. You might be criticized for vocal fry or uptalk, but they may not criticize you for what you say. Learn to be unapologetic.

  1. Be respectful

Never disrespect what’s given to you. Never disrespect someone’s circumstances. Be empathetic. Intersectionality is a key part of understanding feminism. And if you are my child, you are a feminist. You don’t have a choice in that.

Intersectionality is a big word but a simple concept. It indicates that while we consider or commit to gender equality, we must also consider the impact of other societal issues on an individual’s life. My daily experiences as a brown woman differ from those of a transgender woman. A black man’s life is not the same as the life of a black man with disabilities. Race, gender, age, ability, and sexuality all intersect in different ways, resulting in a diverse range of ways to view the world.

When you commit to gender equality or identify as a feminist, you acknowledge that you are also committed to reducing inequity in all aspects of life. So, simply put, be respectful of everyone’s lived experiences.

  1. Color outside the lines

The outlines are not your boundaries, but rather where your exploration starts. Go beyond the horizon. Stereotypes are meant to confine, but challenge them to your best ability. Especially when it comes to your gender. Repetitive activities are what give rise to the concept of gender, and they are what define gender. Stereotypical assumptions must be challenged. There is no obligation. Gender stereotypical actions, I know, stem from history, present observation, and participation. Institutional and societal forces keep us in gendered spaces. However, if I am your mother, the recurrence of these behaviors may be different, making performativity more difficult. Be the child of your mother. Mother knows best, until you challenge her. So challenge me.

  1. Learn how to swim in the waters that you soak in

Fend for yourself, my love. Learn how to swim instead of begging for a life boat. No tide should destroy your journey. Survive the tempest and narrate your tale. What does it mean to survive? I hope you find beauty in your culture, but what if you don’t agree with an ideal? There is more to identity than identifying with your culture or standing solidly against it. Dis-identification is about recycling and rethinking encoded meaning. Dis-identification refers to how one situates themselves within and against the discourses we are called to identify with. Dis-identification becomes the survival strategy of negotiating existence in a phobic public sphere. You can always try and reconcile your identity with other ideologies.

  1. Labels can confine as much as they define

When you are exploring your sexuality, it takes time to understand and discover your identity. Do not feel the pressure to conform to a label. Even if you do, it does not have to be permanent. Fluidity is power, and so is queerness. I will accept and love you for who you choose to be defined as, and re-defined as (if needed), and re-redefined as.

  1. Forgive the foolish, and do not fall prey to confirmation

Do not hold grudges against those who wrong you. Your time is too precious. It is not your job to preach or educate, especially when someone is not ready to listen. Do not hate a population for the action of a sole being. Do not be racist, sexist, classist, xenophobic or form a social schema.

  1. Let your mistakes make you, not break you

You are bound to fail so that you succeed one day. Every failure builds that road to success. The world is changing, tilting, shifting. Be a part of the change. Be open to learning new concepts and being challenged.

  1. Empower and uplift others

The world lies beyond you. Do not be selfish. Be informed about your privilege, identify your biases and do not abuse your power. I repeat, do NOT abuse your power.

In my time, I learnt a lesson in reading about queer time. I learnt that the reproduction of ideas and normativity depends on children. The image of the child, or you, invariably shaped my logic within which the political itself must be thought. I gave birth to a feminist. Prove me right.