In our house it is serious Girl Power time. We had a great time watching the Women’s World Cup and trying to empower our little one to know women’s sports are equally as awesome to watch as the Men’s teams.
Helping my three year old to have confidence and celebrate herself has opened my eyes to small injustices and sexist circumstances in our everyday life. I am examining how I speak and see myself…I want to give her a world where I practice what I preach. I have realized it ins’t enough to tell her she can be anything or that Women are as important as men or that there is beauty in all of us – if I don’t celebrate this daily.
Not too long ago, my husband, daughter and I were having fun exercising, doing yoga moves, stretches and being silly. At one point my husband told my daughter they were going to do push-ups. She struggled so he said wait, you do the girl ones and began to demonstrate. I said “hold on a minute, why do you call them ‘girl push-ups’? That doesn’t sound right. Are they ‘girl push-ups’ because they are not complete or as challenging?” He looked at me puzzled and said, “Honestly, I don’t know. They have just always been called that.” I knew he was right because that’s what I always heard them called…but it didn’t feel right any more. I announced as parents of a daughter we need to find a new name or a real term for those push-ups because she needs to feel validated, supported and empowered from home in order to take on the world.
So what did I do? I looked it up. They are called “half Push-ups”. They are promoted towards women because most women have less upper body strength than men biologically speaking. I get it. Yet, is it really so hard to call it half push up? Because calling it girl push-up also makes men & boys feel alienated from something that could promote good health AND be better for their backs.
I am on the path – I am really trying to find ways I can make my daily speech and thought more tolerant and empowering. She is going to have a tough enough time dealing with all the stress and discrimination out there – she doesn’t need it reinforced at home.
On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, my husband and I had plans to kayak on the Hudson River. We hired a babysitter and planned an afternoon date. On our way to get lunch and go for a paddle, we stopped in at an open house for some beautiful town houses around the corner from where we live.
We were not in the market to buy but we were curious. Maybe it is something we could do in the future. We strolled around the place and enjoyed our visit. Before we left, the agent representing the property approached us. She asked us about our lifestyle and needs. She saw that I am pregnant so she asked about kids. We told her we have a daughter and a son on the way. This is where it went oh so typical and oh so sour for me.
I am fed up with this stereotype that is perpetuated by worst of all – women, mothers.
This woman felt the need to try to “reassure” me that my son will be “easier”. Because boys are so much easier than girls she claimed. I informed her that I didn’t feel that my daughter was difficult or an imposition on my life. One would think she would have taken that as a cue – STOP TALKING.
Oh no, this woman launched into how boys settle things in their own way. “They figure out how to argue and fight and be done with it when playing with each other. But Girls”, she said, “Girls are bitchy and mean. Trust me she says put a bunch of little girls together and it gets nasty quickly. It is such a pain. I mean the boys fight, they hit and settle it.”
I quickly told her that I think that is a product of socialization to think that it is OK for boys to fight it out but girls should be proper at all times. I told her that maybe her perception or expectations are unreasonable and gender biased. I love my daughter and hope she will find a multitude of ways of expressing her feelings that are respectful to others and truthful to who she is as an individual.
This “boys will be boys” attitude is what allows us to look the other way as some young men develop traits, attitudes and misconceptions about what it means to be a man and how to treat women. If we take some ownership in how as a society, especially parents, we allow and foster an idea that boys are allowed to be hostile or aggressive. Just the same way that we don’t label our boys as being “bossy”. We encourage them to be “leaders”. Women have difficulties expressing anger, frustration and dominance in life due to a lifetime of stifling their emotions and desires because they are not seen as ‘ladylike’.
I am looking forward to beginning a life long love with my son and watching him grow and evolve. The same as I am on a glorious adventure with my daughter. Of course there will be differences but mostly stemming from the fact that they are different people. I want to foster their individual spirits as well as giving them foundation to deal with their emotions and assert themselves in their world in a positive healthy way.