All these essays are saying more or less the same thing as mine. Gendered language, clothes, toys, media, etc. are all part of the pernicious and pervasive influence of patriarchy on our culture.
- ‘Girlie’ pajamas
- Boys underwear (for the author’s daughter)
- Boys will be Boys (and its perils)
There’s lots more, especially on father’s day, and it gets pretty repetitive after awhile. There’s nothing here that most of you don’t know, but sometimes finding new language, examples, or persuasive techniques can be useful.
One metaphor I resist is “strong” daughters (remember, I don’t pick my own headlines, nor do I mind. Editors write headlines to get you to click, that’s their only goal, and it’s a good one!). It’s not about strength, though strength is good. It’s about control over narrative and discourse. In the first piece, a girl asks her father for “girlie” PJs, picking up language from her classmates, and so demanding pink. There’s nothing wrong with wanting pink, the problem is coding it as ‘girlie’ and necessary to fit in. There’s nothing wrong with hearts and and princesses on toddler girl underwear, the problem is the lack of alternatives for girls (although these superhero underpants rock, and my daughter currently likes to sing na-na-na-na-na-na-na na-na-na-na-na-na-na Batgirl while wearing them. Or Supergirl. Or Dora. Really anyone).
A friend posted a story the other day about being out with her daughter, who is four. A random woman in the shopping line said, “Hello Princess!” The girl replied, “I’m not a princess! I’m a warrior!.” And that’s what we want, to give these girls the power to write their own narratives, in pink or blue, in capes and gowns, with shovels and tiaras.
And we need to give the same power to our boys.
Happy Father’s Day!