We’re not raising our girls to be angels

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

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What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails,
That’s what little boys are made of.

What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice and all things nice,
That’s what little girls are made of.

Girls with their pretty dresses and pigtails and their tea parties and their dimples and their shoes with neat little bows on them. We love to squeeze their cheeks and tell them how adorable they are. “You’ll break some boys heart some day.” Or “your daddy isn’t going to be too happy when you start dating.”

It starts early and it roles on through “boys will be boys.” And keep in mind, “boys will be boys” is detrimental to pretty much everyone—it doesn’t help boys who don’t love to roll on the ground fighting and it doesn’t help girls who are harassed by boys and told to not worry about it because “boys wi…”

Girls are always thought of us as the kind and gentle ones, aren’t they? Well, I don’t want people to think of my daughters as angels, of little things to be placed on a pedestal. Because truly, they aren’t. And I don’t want my girls to grow up thinking a boy needs to be a rough and tumble bruiser if he was any desire to one day grow to be a “real man.”

I grew up in a house full of boys and didn’t get a taste for what’s expected of girls from a young age. We lived the classic boys will be boys lifestyle. We played baseball, played with our He-Man castles  and drew pictures of our favourite hockey players. We were expected to be good because my parents were great teachers of being polite, but never we were we expected to be angels.

From a young age, girls are taught that arguing with someone else is rude. While boys might get in verbal debates or physical confrontations with one another (boys will be boys, right), girls have bitch fights. Boys grow up to be men with strong opinions and girls grow up to be bitches who want to ruin people’s lives for sharing them.

This starts at a young age and doesn’t take long to make a once strong girl feel as though she has to moderate her opinions so as not to offend someone. In Guyland by Michael Kimmel, he recounts the story of boys and girls talking about their respective opinions of the Arts.

He talks about how boys love math and science because of the definitiveness of the answers. The removal of gray area is beneficial to them. English didn’t offer the same finality. One’s opinion, backed up by reasoned thought, could be a correct answer—meaning there was room for many different right answers. Girls on the other hand, find the lack of a “wrong” answer to be a reason to love English.

“I feel motivated to study English because…you have freedom in English—unlike subjects such as math and science—and your view isn’t necessarily wrong. There is no definite right or wrong answer and you have the freedom to say what you feel is right without it being rejected as a wrong answer.”

-Excerpt from Dr. Michael Kimmel’s Guyland

As a man, I can’t imagine growing up in an education system in which this is the atmosphere you’re expected to learn in. And it’s why we won’t be telling our girls to accept the views other people put on them.

The idea of propriety in young girls and women is asinine. That it’s more important to be proper in the opinions of others than to defend your choices against attacks. To listen to men tell you why you shouldn’t have access to reproductive health options or to listen to people tell you why you’re dressed inappropriately for (insert pretty much any situation).

We’ll teach them to respect the opinions of others and to debate them the second those views start being applied to the way they live their lives. We won’t teach them what their opinion should be, we’ll teach them that whatever their opinion is, it’s worth defending. We’ll teach them that standing quietly while someone berates their rights isn’t being respectful. We’ll teach them that while we may not always have the same opinions, we’ll always have the basic understanding that their opinions are as valuable as ours.

The truth of it is, I hope my daughters piss a lot of people off on their time on earth. Just like a lot of amazing women around me right now have done and continue to do.

There us a vast difference between being well-behaved and being taught that your opinion is only worth sharing if it falls into line with those around you.

I expect my daughters to say please and thank you when they are asking for things and when they are given things. I expect them to say excuse me when they are looking to nudge past a slower walker on a busy street. I expect my daughters will respect others when they’re given respect as well.

I don’t expect them to be angels just because they’re girls.

I hope the man that tells them how great their legs are when they walk down the street is left with the impression that they aren’t angels.

I hope that the hardware store salesperson who asks them “sweetie, are you sure you know what you’re doing?” finds out that they’re no angels.

I hope if they’re told they’re a distraction to a boy’s learning environment because of how they’re dressed, they let the administration know they’re no angels.

I can hear people reading this and thinking I’m suggesting my girls grow up to be assholes. And that’s the exact problem. There doesn’t seem to be a comfortable middle ground for girls and women when it comes to how they choose to approach their anger at injustice. They either go along with it and are branded compliant good girls, or disagree and are branded bad bitches.

I want my daughters to be respectful, but I don’t want them to misinterpret that as me thinking “let people say whatever they want to you.”

The people I admire the most right now are the people who get into regular arguments with people who think we need to keep the status quo. These people also happen to be women.

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