When I Grow Up

Having a girl is proving to be very different from having boys.  Aside from the differences in behaviour, there are a pile of different things to worry about in raising her.  I’ve been reminded of this several times lately as my little Halloween baby nears her first birthday.  That means it is time to shop for presents and costumes. Fun. Much more difficult than boy presents and costumes if you ask me!  The boys were skunks for their first Halloween and got trucks and trains for birthdays.  What to buy for little Gigi.  Well I thought I’d buy her a small purse because she loves to toddle around dragging mine or a little cardboard suitcase that holds a puzzle.  So I searched fill and spill purse, and suddenly became incensed because there were so many fill and spills where the boy option was tools and the girl option was a purse, with phone, money, and lipstick toys.  Now here I was totally willing to buy her a purse but completely ticked off at this.  I must be conflicted.   Well, I’ve figured it out.  It’s that boys have money, cell phones, and places to keep them (though lipstick is more rare).   Girls use “tools” too, although maybe the tools are for crafts or cooking more often than woodworking or car maintenance.  So those things would be equivalents.  To make tool boxes and purses equivalent seems to say that the most active, productive thing women do is shop.  So sure I’ll get her a purse, it’s just that relationship that bugs me.   I do feel bad for the poor toy makers since they’re in a bind.  They might be tagged sexist to say the girl equivalent was a cooking set…
Meanwhile, costume shopping is a whole ‘nother thing.  Luckily it’s her first Halloween, because by about her sixth, just about every costume for girls involves a teensy skirt.  What has happened to feminism?  I hear all the time this line about women being empowered by their sexuality.  Do they really honestly think it’s empowering to hang their goods out for all to see while they take their empowering pole dancing exercise class and read their empowering magazines about 23 Mindblowing Moves To Keep Him Satisfied.  Whatever men came up with this brilliant reasoning must be high fiving each other about how many hot chicks have fallen for it.  Funny how this kind of empowerment by nature doesn’t apply to anyone only slightly less skinny or attractive.  I thought the whole point of feminism was to free women, open their horizons and expand their possibilities.  Look at television, is that what you see being held up as the ideal?  No.  Aside from the occasional doctor drama (heavy on drama, short on doctor), most shows with “powerful” women focus on how they use their sexual assets to get ahead and keep themselves in creature comforts, often supplied by the numbskull men they manipulate.
So these are all the rants running through my head this week.  It’s also the point where Mike said, “if I were your professor I would say your topic was too broad, but for a blog post it’s fine”.  Well fine Mr. Electrical Engineer Pilot if you know so much about writing…  He’s right of course, but there is a common theme I think.  To tie it all together let’s try, aspirations.  All this stuff got me thinking about what I want for Gina and what she might want for herself.  As a stay at home college grad, I realised that it is very important to me that all doors seem open to her as she grows.  Although I don’t work outside the home and I don’t care whether Gina does, I do care that she has the opportunity to aspire to many different things.  Now, if it turns out down the line that she genuinely only ever wants to be a housewife I hope to make her comfortable and confident to do that.  As a girl at school you could never just say that!  Still I don’t want to make her feel like all she can do is cook, clean, keep house and shop.  Home economics is an art, but it’s not the only option.  Which brings me to the age old question: What are you going to be when you grow up?  How will she answer?  And, maybe it’s just the liberal arts student speaking here but I think I’ll try and ask her, and the boys for that matter, a slightly different question.  Something along the lines of “What do you want to know when you grow up?”  “What do you want to be able to do?”  “What do you want to learn?”  Maybe she will be like her mom and want to know about history even if she isn’t a history prof.  Or be able to write, even if just for herself.  Or maybe she’ll want to be able to cook amazing food even though she’s working at a job too much to make something fancy every night.  All I want her to BE when she grows up is happy and fulfilled.  Well in the end, I think my “professor” will still say my topic was too broad, but hey, that’s why this is just a blog.

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3 Comments

Filed under Motherhood

3 responses to “When I Grow Up

  1. Theresa

    I love those questions! What a great perspective! We often do MANY things with our lives; why set up our children to think they can only do one???

    This isn’t quite along the same lines, but I get pretty aggravated by people who say that there are certain things they want to do before they die — places to go, experiences to have — and if they don’t do these specific things, they haven’t really lived. The only thing you’re going to care about on your death bed is whether you adequately expressed your love for family and friends and whether you did the best you could with what you had. Not getting to see the Grand Canyon or being kissed at the top of the Eiffel Tower is hardly going to be what weighs heaviest on your heart.

  2. Kelly

    This sounds awfully self-evident but it’s all in the role model – as moms we choose what to show our kids and how to get them to think critically, even from the youngest of ages. They watch us and our reactions to cultural phenoms like the princess theme. My daughters have been princesses for hallowe’en (get it out of their system now before they’re 16 is the way I figure it) but they’ve also been soccer players, pirates, pumpkins, cowgirls, Hermione & Pooh Bear. Last year one was a flying pig and the other was a Lego Police Officer. This year one is Bellatrix Lestrange and the other is Harry Potter. My Cinderella stories end with ‘she lived happily ever after she went to school and got a marketable skill’…sounds silly but it leads to all sorts of discussion about their possible futures, their choices, their options. We really have come a long way in so many ways.

  3. Veronica

    For the above mentioned reasons in addition to others, I AM SCARED TO HAVE ANY GIRLS!!!

    But, I guess someone has to raise smart, modest, girls in order to change the way the world views women. Just think, if everyone we knows has a bunch of kids and they have a lot of girls and those girls go on to be professionals/nuns/moms and if they become moms and have lots of kids or become nuns and pray for the world or become history professors and teach other kids… maybe, just maybe a non-slutty halloween costume will be available.

    I know you dont watch How I Met Your Mother but I do think the following quote is applicable:
    Barney, “You know what I love about Halloween? It’s the one night of the year chicks use to unleash their inner ho-bag. If a girl dresses up as a witch, she’s a slutty witch. If she’s a cat, she’s a slutty cat. If she’s a nurse…”
    Lily, “WOW, we get it!”
    Barney, “…she’s a slutty nurse.”

    As for the toy purse, I’d have to say, I am glad it still exists. While it is true that being a woman doesn’t mean you just shop and wear lipstick, I think it is only around for a little while longer. Women are for sex and for diversifying the workplace. I can imagine the hard core feminists want to trash the toy purse but I am glad to see there is still something out there like it. I never had one and always wanted one, when I was younger. Instead, my mom made me a purse (really easy even for the less-than-crafty type) and filled it with other things. I had a hairbrush, car keys, scrunchies (product of the 90’s), a toy compact, the rest of the checkbook (all the unused deposit slips with the account number cut out), real chapstick & a little packet of tissues, a book, etc (some items are obviously too mature for Gigi). Of course, I also put EVERYTHING in there and often converted it into a pot holder, a book bag, or a diaper bag. I still have my kitty cat purse and plan to resurrect it in the event Marc and I are blessed with a little girl.

    WOW! Way to pick such a broad topic. I need to get to work so I have to sign out before I complete my thought process.

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