Thursday, February 4, 2016

Thoughts on 'Girly' and control

After putting up this post last month, a reader very kindly sent me a link to an article by Anne Thériault called Why We Need to Stop Devaluing Femininity, which ends with this line:

“We feminists tell ourselves that we’re trying to break down the gender binary, which is for sure an admirable idea that should be tackled with enthusiasm. But as we move toward viewing gender as more of a spectrum, we need to make sure that spectrum includes the color pink.”

It was exactly what I needed to read (thank you, Yang-En!), and it made me ponder what drives my desires to squash Hazel’s girly-ness. We have relatives who aren’t at all surprised by Hazel’s love for sparkles and jewellery; to their minds, she’s a girl, and so of course she’s into those things. I kinda wanted Hazel to come along and love black and boots, and enthusiastically join me in my attempts to dismantle this stereotype, but instead she’s come along, in her perfect innocence, and just been her. It’s beautiful. It’s frustrating. I’m less worried about stereotypes with Mo, but I’ve realised I still have ideas about how he, too, could help me tackle my bugbears and be the coolest child ever. If only my kids thought exactly like I do! I regularly think to myself. How awesome would they be! Fundamentally, it turns out I don’t have a problem with pink so much as I have a problem with control. 

I quite like the Robot/Child post I apparently wrote during a(n evidently short-lived) flash of wisdom back in 2014, which talks about learning to enjoy my children for the humans they are, rather than wishing they were programmable machines. I so desperately want to be able to compel Moses and Hazel to learn the lessons I think they need to learn, so that they always make decisions I wholeheartedly agree with and avoid accidentally hurting people (or, worse, intentionally hurting people). I want them to be people I can relate to and connect with, and often I slip into thinking this means that they should wear shorts instead of dresses, they should love playing soccer, they should take deep breaths in and out when feeling frustrated, and they should agree with me about everything. 

BUT, at exactly the same time, one of the scariest things I can think of is having children who are exactly like me when they’re 18, 29, etc.; the same fears, the same aspirations, the same passions, the same intolerances. I want them to be different from me, but I’m finding it very hard to encourage them to be different from me.  

My first step: embracing “girly.”


  1. I think my worst nightmare if I had children would be having boys who like sports. Maybe not my WORST nightmare, but it's up there. So I think I can empathise with your struggles. Hazel looks pretty great with pink flowers and lippy!

    1. As soon as she found out face-painting was a thing, it went straight to the top of her things-I-want-to-try-ASAP list. She sat so incredibly still for this, and loved every minute of it! It was very cute.