I wanted my first child to be girl. The feminist in me very much needed a little girl to breathe fire into. I could’t wait to teach her that she could be anything she wanted to be. I knew I would fight with all I had to make sure she knew that being born female was not a limitation…
That she was worthy of respect.
I would buy her trucks if she wanted, put her in Karate, and give her the freedom to break any girl stereotype she wanted. Of course, if she wanted to be a princess in a tutu most of the time, that was okay too – because in my book, feminine does not equal bad. No limits.
Then I had a boy.
Then I had another boy.
I recently read a post by Dresden Julia Shumaker on BlogHer.com about raising a son in the “princess culture” and if all this girl power is hurting our boys. She echoed many of my own thoughts and experiences since having two boys of my own.
I never worried too much about my boys having to “break stereotypes”. I never thought they would feel that being born a boy was a limitation…
My oldest son likes to wear my bracelets.
He likes the feel of my makeup brush on his face.
He wanted to be a princess for a long time because most of the shows we watched that were age appropriate had a princess in it. We were hard pressed to find a children’s show starring a prince.
He is also four.
My husband not too long ago asked our boy what he wanted to watch on Netflix streaming one weekend. My son promptly replied, “My Little Pony!”
A slightly perplexed looked crossed my husband’s face as he said, “What? That show is for girls.”
My Little Pony makes my son intensely happy. Who wouldn’t love it – it’s got ponies that are all different colors, they sing songs, one of them always saves the day, and they freaking fly.
I quickly chimed in, “It’s not just for girls. It’s a TV show. They made it for anyone with a TV.”
My husband, desperate not to loose his open-minded badge, nodded quickly and said, “Yup. That’s right. You’re right.”
If I had a daughter and she were playing monster trucks it would be celebrated. If my son brings his stuffed baby to class for show and tell, we’re worried he may be laughed at.
It saddens me a little that sometimes he now asks me before picking up a toy, “Is this for girls or boys?” He has also asked me more than once while watching My Little Pony where the boy ponies are.
Children are dreamers. Children think without limits. It is as it should be.
This celebration of girls breaking stereotypes is a natural backlash from a gender that’s spent too long oppressed – it is the time we live in. “Girl power” sounds liberating. “Boy power” still sounds a little bit dangerous…
Can’t we just call it a day and call it “kid power”? There are few things more powerful than the boundless joy of a child, and the belief that anything is possible. I see no need to taint the things he likes to do with embarrassment at such an early age. He will have enough limits placed on him as he grows into an adult… and he’ll need his limitless thinking to overcome them.
My son is a sensitive, empathetic child, as well as a nurturing big brother. I don’t think I went out of my way to instill these virtues in him. Part of it may be from him spending most of his life by my side, and modeling that behavior. Part of it is in his nature.
He also likes trucks.
I have sons that I breathe fire into.
I make sure they know that being born male is not a limitation…
That they are worthy of respect…
and the feminist in me is happy…
because someday they will each meet a woman who knows she can be anything she wants to be,
and they won’t feel threatened…
because they were allowed the same.