Rebecca Eckler is one of Canada's most talked about newspaper columnists, the author of Knocked Up: Confessions of a Hip Mother to Be, which has been translated into nine languages. Also the author of the bestsellers, Wiped!, Toddlers Gone Wild, and Rotten Apple, the first in a YA series. Random thoughts on life in the competitive world of modern mommyhood. Blog will be loved by trendy mothers who still feel, or often feel, that the most important word in "mommee" is ME!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Eeww...Boys!

How is it that little girls decide boys are bad?

In recent weeks, every time The Dictator doesn't like something, like carrots, she says it's for boys.

"I don't like carrots. Carrots are for boys!" she'll say.

Or, "I don't like popsicles. Popsicles are for boys!"

Frankly, I find it kind of funny. I mean, what can I say? "You're right! Carrots are for boys!"

The house next door to mine has been torn down and is now being built up again. The other day there were workers hammering away on the roof. I sat on my front stoop and was pointing all the action out to The Dictator.

"Look! Look at that man on the top of the house," I told her. "Are you going to climb a house one day?"

"No," she said. "Only boys climb houses."

Ok, that annoyed me.

While it was true that there were only men (Every other word out of their potty mouths was, 'Fuck that! Fuck this! Fuck you!' But that's another story...) I certainly have never told The Dictator that only boys do certain things.

In fact, I'm so aware of gender and how I don't want The Dictator to grow up thinking she can only be and do certain things because she's a girl, that I've bought her soccer balls, and foot balls, and a scooter and trucks.

There has been absolutely no talk of "only boys can climb houses." So where the hell did she get that from?

"Girls and boys can BOTH climb houses," I told her, adding, "When you're bigger."

Yes, I have dressed The Dictator entirely in pink since the day she was born. A) I like pink. B) she was bald for the longest time. In fact, if she's not wearing pink, she still often looks like a boy.

I mainly dress her in pink so I don't have to hear what an "adorable son" I have.

But where do girls learn that boys suck and where do boys learn that girls suck?

Where do they learn that only girls do certain things and only boys do certain things (the only one that I for sure have told her is that she can't pee standing up...but she still has tried this, to disastrous results.)

Then, the other day, she asked for lipstick. And here I am singing out all the time to The Dictator, "Anything boys can do, girls can do better."

I never thought it would happen in this day and age, but it has...

18 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not a mother, but I already have a CD of "Free To Be You and Me" by Marlo Thomas and friends.

When I was young I used to listen to it all the time...but it wasn't until I was older that I realized what it was REALLY about...EQUALITY. A great CD for any child to listen to (and entertaining for parents as well...more so than Barney certanily. :)

10:46 AM

 
Blogger Karla said...

Girls learn that boys suck because they do suck.

Becuase my girl has an older brother, every thing that is cool or something she can't do it yet she tells me that she will do it "when she becomes a brother".

10:55 AM

 
Anonymous GirlyGirl said...

I think we socialize girls and boys differently, even when consciously trying not to. How many times have friends and family remarked "oooh look at her shoes!", "what adorable clothes, hair, etc"!! I have three boys and no one has ever told them that they liked their outfits or hair. Society recognizes boys for their accomplishments, girls for their looks. Big article in local paper today about Laureen Harper's hair, clothes and shoes. Has she never done anything with her life other than getting dressed????? This is the message we drum into little girl's heads from birth.
P.S. Not being negative. It is what it is. I have trouble keeping my heart rate down in a shoe store.

11:28 AM

 
Blogger chichimama said...

Girls seem to figure it all out much earlier than boys. C still thinks girls are cool, and gets upset when his girl friends run off without him. Which only seems to happen where there is more than one girl in the room.

It's a hard thing to watch though.

12:07 PM

 
Blogger Kristen said...

I was the exact opposite growing up- very tomboy, climbing, swearing, getting dirty- but I still managed to be into boys and loved wearing frilly dresses. Then I grew into a fairly girly girl- into makeup and guys and fashion and such. So I don't really think how she views male and female gender roles now will have an effect on her later on. You've been sure to tell her she can do whatever she puts her mind to, so don't worry!

1:04 PM

 
Blogger Jen said...

I find it amazing how early kids pick up on these things, almost like they are both with stereotypical gender tendencies. My 19 month old daughter is very into rocking her dolls, singing to them, taking care of things. Her male friend who is two years younger is all about running and climbing and trucks. How does this happen?

4:02 PM

 
Blogger Ali said...

Emily, i think, came out with the "boys are stinky" attitude.

but now, at 5, she's discovered boys and has herself a little boyfriend.

i fear for what stage comes next!!

5:14 PM

 
Blogger Sheena said...

Carrots?
Popsicles?

Ok, nothing boylike about those particular items. Not like she's sayin' the CN Tower, or Florida State Legislature or big giant upwardly pointing asparagus "is for boys".

Nurture v. Nature, really, may be the question.

6:41 PM

 
Blogger J's Mommy said...

I think they learn it from each other. Unfortunately, there's no way around it as far as I'm concerned. I am doing my best to try and keep gender out of my daughter's upbringing, but I know that someday another little girl will tell her that boys are gross or that she shouldn't climb a tree because only boys climb trees. Sucks!

7:07 PM

 
Blogger crazymumma said...

My big girl is totally friends with boys (she is 9). My younger girl is a hussy and wants to lift her dress (4). I do not know where they get any of it, at this point I am convinced that they are reptilian shape shifters, and I have no part in it, Good Luck. Anne

8:27 PM

 
Blogger primetimetvaddict said...

She probably picked up the message at school or at swim camp or some place like that. My mother taught kindergarten and she used to tell me about these little 4 and 5 yr olds coming in and wanting to dress and act like Britney Spears. Is this what we get for making the likes Paris Hilton an "icon"?? I think it's harder for girls now more than ever.

8:30 PM

 
Blogger MommyWithAttitude said...

If you're lucky she knows she CAN climb the house (and she can do it BETTER, of course), but why should she if those dumb boys are already up there doing all the work??? ;)

8:40 PM

 
Blogger Susie Sunshine said...

It's an innate thing with kids.

I bought some Barbie dolls to have around when little girls visited and to exposed my sons to "girl toys".
Barbie was completely ignored in the toybox until her usefulness AS A HAMMER was discovered.

Freud would have a field day with the Dictator's gender assigments. Popsicles and carrots ARE rather phallic looking!

4:43 AM

 
Blogger Pendullum said...

My daughter has never had a problem with boys... or complying to boys games...

She loves to run... She loves to play chase, skip, play basketball, swims like no tomorrow, she loves to sing, compose music, make up stories, she loves to make people laugh and is the perfect host and a very loyal friend...

When she was younger she would go to a boys place she would play batman, spiderman,knights in shining armor... Like no tomorrow...
She would comply and play lego, trains and all the rest...

She was very accomodating to her boy friends...
I can not say the same for the boys...

They would not play any of the games she liked at our house...
They would dig their heels in and say that Barbie's are for 'sissies'
that drawings are for girls, that make believe of any sort, that did not involve sword fights was just a no no...

I would listen as they would demean what meant a great deal to her...
I would listen to her as she would fetch other toys to make them more comfortable... when I know that they never gave her the same consideration...

I finally put the cahbash on these boyplaydates as I wanted to keep her views pure... I wanted her to stay true to her likes and that boys should/could play Barbies, Batman... whatever...Her likes were valid too,,,That is what friendship is about...Give and take... It wasa friendship issue to me... Not a gender issue...

We are an artistic household...
and we have a great deal of artists both male and female that saunter through our doors...
My daughter was so used to men and women getting down and playing Barbies with her...
She was/is accustomed to them drawing with her and making music...She now jams with her older cooler cousins who are in their 20's.

The lines that are drawn in the sand tend to be that of her peers... and I am so fortunate that we have a bit of example to fall back on...
I am glad that I can influence her through example...
She has a great deal of friends... And I am happy to say she has met a few boys that do not think Barbie, music, and drawing are evil... and they come over willingly knowing that this is part of being a friend...

8:05 AM

 
Blogger Laural Dawn said...

I think it's just cute and funny. I totally try to raise my son the same way - and I get him dolls and stuff and let him do ballet with his girl cousin. But in the end he really is such a boy.
I think it's in their nature.
Who knows.

9:33 AM

 
Blogger BoDog said...

Of my 4, 2 girls 2 boys, they seem to interchange their roles. They are always being superheroes and sometimes my oldest son will be Batman but once he was Wonder Woman...My girls have no problem saying they are Superman or Spider-Man.

I think they just pick up on the differences in male/female behaviors and characteristics and it becomes a subconcious sterotype that they then place a value on...Girls suck/boys suck...until they grow out of that phase of arbitrarily judging something different as being bad.

7:24 AM

 
Blogger Haley-O said...

o gosh, when I was little I tried to pee standing up--on the tree in front of our house--and it was disastrous, of course, and my mother was appalled. (Should I be putting this on the internet? I was lit-tle! Little!)

Anyway, I think it's inevitable that this kind of gendering is going to take place, whether parents encourage it or not. Sex, and with that gender differentiation, is obsessively prominent in the media. It's everywhere--even if not blatant, it's assumed. She's a girl. And, in trying to construct her identity (which, according to the media, etc., is defined foremost by her gender), she needs to assert what she is NOT. She is NOT a boy; therefore, she is a girl....Does that actually make sense? She's just figuring out who she is by "repudiating" what she is not.

11:54 AM

 
Blogger Beastarzmom said...

She may just be saying that only boys climb on houses because she doesn't WANT to climb on a house. Just like she doesn't want to eat the carrot.
We tend to read a lot into our kids' messages sometimes. I always think it's good to let them know they do have the option if they ever want to eat carrots, or climb houses.
Peeing standing up? sorry...

5:26 PM

 

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