Sunday, November 28, 2010

Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Tomboys

**UPDATE** My mother just bought Caroline a "Say Please Tea Set" designed to teach manners and, apparently, waitressing. Facepalm.

Before Carrie came, I was so excited about all of her tiny pink outfits and the adorable headbands that came with them. I couldn't wait to read her books like "Polite as a Princess" and I was going to tell her everyday that she was beautiful.

And then I realized that I'd been ruled by hormones and I didn't actually want any of that for her. Well, at least not exclusively. Really, what I want is for Caroline to be herself. She might turn out to be super femme and she might also be a tomboy like I was (for a while anyways). But the million ways in which gender roles are reinforced will play a huge part in who she is and, frankly, that pisses me off. Don't get me wrong, I still think she's absolutely beautiful and I'm not just saying this because I'm sick of looking at pink - although I totally am.

It just seems so ridiculous to me that we start indoctrinating our children into gender roles before they can even focus their eyes. Putting aside how ridiculous the gender binary is in general, it's especially useless for babies. Gender is a combination of several factors including sex, social role and gender identity. So, I ask you: how can a tiny human with no physical self-awareness other than that hands are fun have a social role or gender identity?

Also, baby boys clothes are freaking adorable. So it frustrates me when I see something cute that I'd like to buy for Caroline and I debate if it's cute enough to justify me fighting with my mom over it.

I guess what it really comes down to is that I want the best for her. And I'm not gonna lie: sometimes it sucks to be a girl. I mean we can create life and "the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world" and we've got the Girl Scouts and we're completely equal to men and yay feminism. But, still. Sometimes it's hard to remember that you have to be docile to get ahead and not to chew with your mouth open. And it sucks to accept that you'll get paid less than the moron in the next cubicle reading FHM while you're working twice as hard. And it hurts when you realize that girls really can't be anything they want like your favorite childhood book told you. So I'd rather raise her in a world relatively free of those stereotypes and unfair expectations and just let her be her. And the adorable boys' and gender-neutral clothes are just a perk :)


  1. I heard a mom yelling at her husband for trying to buy toy dinosaurs for their daughter the other day while I was working (I work at Toys R Us). She said something along the lines of "" like that really made any difference of which toys she would like to play with. I loved playing with dinosaurs as a kid and if that dad wanted to get dinosaurs for his little girl, why not? Had I not been working, I might have said something to the mother, especially since she was yelling. Gender biases and stereotypes are ridiculous and I agree with you, clothes for little boys are adorable. You go!

  2. I totally feel you, Hannah! My niece has light-up triceratops slippers and they are her faves! She also love tiny insect and reptile toys (plastic snakes, etc) and will carry them around in the pockets of her dress :) I totally hope Care Bear grows up like that!

  3. WHOO! Go Kim. And those "boy" clothes were super cute. Blue is very flattering. :)

  4. Thanks, Meghan! Blue really is flattering on us Irish girls :) Plus, those jammies say "tiny feet, big world." I mean, come on!

  5. I have three daughters—the 1st has been an unexpected girlie-girl, the 2nd has requested black birthday cakes for the last 2 birthdays and the 3rd? She is totally comfortable defining her girliness or tomboyness by the minute.

    Expectations based on gender are so limiting for both sides.

  6. I totally agree that they limit everyone, Amanda! In fact, I think gender roles are especially toxic for boys as they grow into men and are forced to live inauthentic lives with limited connection to their emotional selves in order to conform.