Link

I Don’t Want My Daughter to Be Nice

I Don’t Want My Daughter to Be Nice

When I first saw the title of this article on the New York Times Parenting blog, I literally sighed out loud.  With anti-girly girl movements, stay-at-home-mom shaming, which seems all very obvious to me, I expected this piece by Catherine Newman to be yet another trash talk on the girly-girl, and it is, but only kind of.  What I like about this piece, is that the author clearly points out expectations and differences between male and female.  Newman talks about her daughters not-nice qualities in comparison with her sons overt niceness.

I know that our sweet-hearted son, who is 13, has always had the experience of niceness being its own reward. What can I do to help? he asks. Please, take mine, he insists, and smiles, and everyone says, “Oh, aren’t you nice!” and “What a lovely young man!” (Or sometimes, because he kind of looks like a girl, “What a lovely young lady!”) But, if I can speak frankly here, you really don’t worry about boys being too nice, do you? He still has the power and privilege of masculinity on his side, so, as far as I’m concerned, the nicer the better.

Compare this to…

I bite my tongue so that I won’t hiss at her to be nice. I tell you this confessionally. Because do I think it is a good idea for girls to engage with zealously leering men, like the creepy guy in the hardware store who is telling her how pretty she is? I do not. “Say thank you to the nice man who wolf-whistled!” “Smile at the frat boy who’s date-raping you!” I want my daughter to be tough, to say no, to waste exactly zero of her God-given energy on the sexual, emotional and psychological demands of lame men — of lame anybodies. I don’t want her to accommodate and please. I don’t want her to wear her good nature like a gemstone, her body like an ornament.

 

It’s a hard topic and it’s definitely gender/biological sex specific.  Stereotypically people expect girls to be nice and boys to be masculine, AKA, physically strong and emotionally immature.  I like that Newman points out her own hypocritical tendency when discussing her son versus her daughter, though I’m not sure this was intentional.

But there is one thing that Newman insinuates about gender which follows the girly-girl bashing. Newman, like many others’ writing about girls, the color pink, girl play, likens niceness to naivety, and, typically masculine characteristics of sloppyness and brut behavior to success.

Here is the part where all of this negative gender stereotyping happens, whereas before, her observations about her son and daughters character didn’t directly relate to their future success.

She is a beautiful kid, but she is also sure and determined in a way that is not exactly pretty. Which is fine, because God help me if that girl ends up smiling through her entire life as if she is waitressing or pole-dancing or apologizing for some vague but enormous infraction, like the very fact of her own existence.

I picture her at the prom in stripy cotton pajamas, eating potato chips with both hands. I picture her slapping a patriarch-damning sticker on her jacket. I picture her running the country, saving the world, being exactly the kind of good bad girl that she knows herself to be. And I think: You go. I think: Fly! I think: Take me with you.

And I just have to add that I hope no parent ever hopes for their son or daughter to be at prom, eating potato chips, with both hands. Unless you want your kid to be either overweight or poorly behaved, or both…

Link

Pink Guns

UnknownSemi-new action toys have come out, and they’re pink.  The color pink has become controversial in its own right, but throwing weaponry into the mix brings up a whole new set of dialogue, “Why pink? Why weapons? Should girls and boys be playing out aggression? Are weapons bad? Are pink weapons bad? Is aggression good?…” Where I live, most parents are anti-fake weapon play.  The mere pointing of a stick with the added “pow-pow” nearly brings parents to tears, likely fearing this role-play is somehow indicative of their parenting and the adult their kid will grow up to be.  I am not apart of this mode of thinking. Kids role-play all sorts of things, they pretend to be a dog or a turtle, and yet we don’t fear children will grow up to have be “furries” or “plushies”. cc_subculture_lead_130220_wmain Nerf Rebelle Heartbreaker Exclusive Golden Edge Bow by Hasbro is being talked about simply because it’s pink.  Toy weaponry is old hat. The focal point of the new weaponry toys is that they’re pink.  Nerf guns have been around for years, in varying blues, oranges, greens and blacks, and while Nerf guns have suffered some criticism revolving around the presumed aggression, or warfare the gun may promote, I can assure you the criticism never once revolved around the color.  Unknown-1 So why now? Why does pink, and all things typically female create such cultural upheaval?  We all know the argument against pink, I’ve written about it before, i.e., “pink is bad, it upholds gender stereotyping and women’s oppression.” Or something like this. First of all, a color cannot do these things, that’s just absurd.  Second of all, we shouldn’t look at something that loosely represents an idea of “female”, and chastise it, we should embrace it and change whatever negative meaning it might have held. In order to progress, and continue equality among men we need to actually think that Women are equal, and not place blame on things like pink, makeup, tight clothes, etc., to each their own.  And while I don’t wear pink or know how to properly apply make-up, I also don’t think that these things in anyway represent, or are cause for women’s oppression. I urge you to think about this topic. Consider what the color pink and weaponry play means to you, and why.  Read the New York Times post I linked to about the new “girl” Nerf guns, written by Hilary Stout and Elizabeth A. Harris.  I’d love to see some comments about this topic!

Sorry Goldieblox

Unknown

I just found this article by Katy Waldman in Slate, Goldieblox: Great for Girls? Bad for Girls? Or Just Selling Toys?

If you haven’t yet heard of GoldieBlox toy company, check it out here.   The aim of the company is to guide girls toward a career in engineering, or at the very least get them away from typical girl toys.   While I haven’t had the pleasure of getting my hands on one of the toys, and while the company aims seem at first powerful and legitimate I can’t help but shutter a little at the almost sleazy misappropriation of feminism seen in their video and mission statement, and with it the assumption that girls don’t already utilize home materials, and other toys to satisfy their desire for constructive and creative learning.

I really don’t want to poo-poo on anyones attempt at trying to promote “better” learning for girls (and boys, right?) and while I can even respect understand, the desire to try and make a buck in the name of feminism, this toy company seems to have missed the mark.  In Waldman’s essay she points to many disheartening truths about the toy, and reviewers all seem to agree that while the idea behind the toy is “inspiring” the execution is a, “massive disappointment, Really doesn’t inspire creativity or ‘engineering’ skills, no room for thinking outside the box.” Amazon reviewers. 

In the end, if you want to inspire children to be creative and even to directly push them toward a career in engineering it seems your best options remain in your household.  Tupperware, tape, boxes, blocks, utensils, etc., all of these things promote spacial reasoning, creativity and may even build future engineers.