Fairly recently, my father and I had been talking about how my daughter’s hair was growing out so that it curled at her neck (making it look kind of like a mullet). He made a comment about how he couldn’t wait for it to get longer so she would “stop looking like a boy.”
Upon further reflection, I got really irritated by that comment. I know that deep down my dad didn’t mean anything (or at least not much) by it. But he said it. Because he was raised to believe that boys and girls are basically different species.
Whereas I believe that the only fundamental difference between boys and girls is their private parts. Everything else is just a personality thing or gender norms forced on them by society.
That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy certain cultural norms. I love it when my husband is assertive in bed and (to his dismay) I’m not very brave when it’s my turn.
But when gender norms are used to make people feel bad or restrict them in any way, I draw the line.
I personally loved to play dress up as a kid and I had a ton of Barbies, but if my daughter wants to play with race cars and mud, that is her prerogative. Why would I love a son who gets dirty and not a daughter?
My child is my child is my child.
My father was raised in a different generation and so I can forgive him certain faults. At times, they’ve even seemed enticing. Like how he babied me while I was pregnant and admonished my husband for not doing the same (which I was eager to endorse because foot rubs please).
But ultimately I wouldn’t trade being able to be myself (whoever that might be) just so that someone pulls my chair out for me. And I don’t want my daughter feeling like she’s not a proper woman if she wants a pixie cut or a girlfriend or Lightning McQueen sneakers instead of Frozen.
It’s the fine line we walk when raising daughters: how to best nurture their independence and personality and freedom of choice in a world where gender stereotypes are still in abundance.
Walk that tight-rope ladies.
And also progressive dads. Much love to you too!
– – –
As seen here on Odyssey