|I look good in blue, no?|
Did I just write that? I mean, I’m a feminist for gooness sakes! I had the best of intentions! I shop for my daughter in the boys section sometimes!
Apparently I had no idea how deeply society’s message of female=weaker had truly sunk in.
This day and age we have access to unlimited information about stereotyping and it’s affects. We know the history (HIS story) of patriarchy and recognize society sends very clear messages about gender roles. We know that if a child does not quite fit the typical mold bullying can occur, or worse.
I’ve taken many Women’s Studies courses in undergrad and graduate school. I read The Feminine Mystique in my free time and follow Miss Representation on Facebook. I don’t necessarily agree that gender is completely socially constructed but I’m still a proud feminist. So of all people you’d think I should be informed about gender stereotyping.
So why did I start treating my pregnancy differently when I found out I was having a girl?
I told relatives that we are not to call her pretty or cute without also saying she is clever and smart- by the time Lavinia turned one that plan went out the window because she loved it when something was ‘pretty,’ even her dinner had to be ‘pretty’ in order to get her to eat it…I caved and only realized it when my Mother said to me, “what happened with not being allowed to tell her she’s pretty?” Fail.
One of my Mums Group friends said she was surprised at how many soft toys we had (traditionally soft toys are given to little girls). We were given so many toys for Lavinia that I didn’t buy her any myself. I had intended on getting gender neutral toys but it completely slipped my mind!
I catch myself calling her a ‘good little girl’ even though I know it’s wrong to praise girls for being ‘good’ as opposed to boys for being ‘active.’ I know in my brain that I want her to be on equal footing with any boy her age but I can see the differences between them so clearly. The little boys in our Mum’s Group play differently than the girls do. Lavinia dodges those little guys at every turn as they wrestle and bump around the room as she clings to my legs.
The thing is, there are differences between the genders that are undeniable and detectable early on. Do I think this is cause for sweeping generalizations? Absolutely not. So how have I fallen into the stereotype fountain while walking and looking at my iPhone at the same time? I should know better. Women younger than myself are distancing themselves from feminism at an alarming rate, no wonder I feel the need to set a better example.
We don’t have to get nuts about what extremists on both sides of the argument have to say. Let’s just play nice. Feminism is the simple concept that men and women should be treated equally even though they have differences (nature vs nurture debate not happening here.) Fair enough too.