Posted by: instanthausfrau | May 16, 2006

Gender Discorse for Mother’s Day

This post, by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling would have me running out to buy her books for my daughter if I didn't already own them. And if you haven't seen the video for P!nk's Stupid Girls, the song referenced in Rowling's comments, allow me to point you to a brilliant work of parody:

In general, Gender is on the brain right now. I just finished re-reading It's a Girl: Women Writers on Raising Daughters, and I'm still waiting for my copy of It's a Boy: Women Writers on Raising Sons to arrive via the SPL. At the playground today, Moon found her ideal playmate in a twenty-one month old boy who, like her, screamed for the pure joy of screaming. They chased each other around the playground, babbled in what seemed like conversations of their pre-English, and practiced the tried and true vocabulary staples of "Hi!" and "No!". When I admired the way his lips moved slowly to the side as he thought, the boy's mother told me with a tired sort of wonder that he was, "his father's child. All boy."

If that's "all boy", then what is my daughter, running and screaming with the same delight? I'm asking this thoughtfully, rolling the question around in my head to taste it. Moon was wearing her dinosaur overalls and shoes, the ones she picked out today and loves to stomp around in (helped, no doubt, by her love for the Boynton book Oh my oh my oh dinosaurs!"). She makes her truck toys go "Vroom!" now, at eighteen months, and excitedly points out airplanes in the sky to me.

And yet, later in the day, when picking out a new sippy cup, she chose the pink one with a kitty on it over the bright red with dinosaurs, causing maybe a little sadness for this former tom-boy Mom. She hugs and cuddles her stuffed animals, and is endlessly social and interested in other children. As she gets older, I know that we'll hit the age of trying out her girl-ness in all it's glory (that same age between three and five that seems to have so many of the moms in It's a Girl baffled), and I forsee a future where I'll swallow hard as my house becomes invaded by these concepts of female that I loathe.

In the great spectrum between nature and nurture, boy and girl, why do we send the messages we do about what makes a girl, or what makes a boy? How do I stop the experience of adolescence from crippling the spirit of my daughter, like it did me? I want to let her be the person she is, to explore and enjoy all the aspects and ideas about herself. I also desperately want to shelter her from the ideas of skeletally thin as pretty, and pretty as all that is important for her.

I'm already well on my way to becoming Overprotective Mom Extraordinaire. How do I keep myself in check when there seems to be such an overwhelming onslaught of Stupid Girl mentality to protect against?



  1. Thank you for posting this video! I’d been meaning to see it and you just gave me the opportunity. It’s wonderful. As for your question, I think what it comes down to is self-esteem, and finding your self-worth through activities and achievements. Not through popularity or boyfriend count. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with pink or kitties or stuffed animals. Or nailpolish, as I’ve said before–as long as it’s not keeping her from hurling a kickball or typing a manuscript.

    My guess is you’ve got a good attitude and she’s going to inherit that from you. Look at most of the girls with screwed up values and you see it in their parents.

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