Battle of the Sexes

“Pink is a girl color.”

“Boys are police officers.”

“Girls ride horses.”

“Super heroes are for boys.”

When did my kids become so sexist? How did I let this happen? Am I so busy navel-gazing and second-guessing my parenting skills that I’ve allowed gender stereotypes to sneak in like hidden high-fructose corn syrup in, well, everything?

Every time I hear my kids limit themselves or each other based on their plumbing, I want to dress them in drag and report myself to the PC Parent Police. I’ve always told them that being a boy or girl has nothing to do with what they should like or be, but apparently my voice isn’t loud enough to rise above the din of pop culture.

I recently read “Secrets & Mysteries: The Glory and Pleasure of Being a Woman” by Denise Linn. It was a real eye-opener. Linn writes about reclaiming divine femininity and being comfortable with who you are as a woman. Over the course of my life, I’ve often felt embarrassed and encumbered by the fact that I’m female. I bought into others’ expectations of who I should be and how I should act, even though it felt wrong.

I don’t want that for my kids. I want my son to respect women and love being a man. I want my daughter to find strength in her femininity and power in herself. I want them both to delight in the differences between the sexes but feel secure in and proud of who they are.

How do I do that? I thought I was on the right track by letting Wee Man paint his toe nails despite his father’s objections. I hoped my Barbie ban would keep the Roo safe from blonde/boob caricatures. But there are so many subtle and pervasive messages about what characteristics go with which body parts, I’m in over my head.

I guess I’ll just have to keep correcting and redirecting as I hear them try to stuff boys and girls into their respective boxes. And take them to G-rated drag shows.

Or maybe I’m just doing that thing again where I’m crazy. Could be I just need to lighten up, get the Roo back into soccer and a the Wee Man a new nightgown.


2 thoughts on “Battle of the Sexes

  1. It’s hard to battle against stereotypes, even those we create for our children. I think it’s something we all do; some days we handle it better than others.

    J loves Spider-Man (maybe it’s just Tobey Maguire because she’s shown no interest in the revamp) and when she was 4 she wanted a Spider-Man birthday party. She had a Tinkerbell birthday because it’s what I thought a 4-year-old girl should have. The next year, her fifth, the Spider-Man birthday happened with me perfecting both a blue and red frosting for her cake. I became more comfortable in who I was in letting my kids be–regardless of what “others” thought.

    Their ideas change; their favorite colors change; their best friends change; their attitudes change. They like pink and purple and then blue and yellow. They like girls and boys equally and then prefer the company of girls more than boys. They like spaghetti but their refine their taste to include decadent desserts and fancy milk from Starbucks. (This is just from my “girl” experiences . . . )

    It’s a process . . . ever-changing. You do your best to guide them and help them keep an open mind as much as possible. Roo and WeeMan are well rounded. It’s a testament to you that you are willing to expose them to new things, so that their ideas are fluid and not static.

    It’s a marathon, not a race . . . slow and steady, turtle. 🙂

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