I am a woman, so of course I know firsthand what it’s like to live in this world as a woman – the good and the bad. I have two daughters and I know that I have a very important job in raising them to know that though they may not always be treated as such, they are equal to their male counterparts. They are strong, smart, brave, beautiful, kind, funny, persistent, and so many more things. Just as their male friends.
I guess it was naïve to think I wouldn’t have to begin teaching them this at age five. I guess I thought we wouldn’t get to this point for a few more years. Spoiler alert: It’s already necessary.
I noticed that for the last month or so, whenever the girls would play, Olivia would make it a point to say she was a boy. She was always the dad or the brother in whatever game (usually baby or puppy – I don’t know, people) was being played. At first I thought nothing of it. Many of her friends are boys. I also don’t want to push her into a box and demand that she accept certain “roles” as a given, because they aren’t. Then I fell down a rabbit hole wondering if maybe she was identifying as a male? Maybe she was pretending to be a boy because she felt like inside she was a boy?
So, I asked her. I had no idea what to expect or what I’d say back to her, but I wanted to know what was going on in that incredible mind of hers. She responded, simply, “Girls aren’t strong. Girls aren’t fast. Only boys are, so if I want to be those things, I can’t be a girl.”
Um, WHAT??? We absolutely do not, have not, will not ever behave in our home in a way that would ever suggest that to her. My husband and I are equals and basically, we take on whatever tasks we personally AS HUMAN BEINGS are better suited for. I like to paint and DIY things. He is a much better tailor than I’d ever be a seamstress. Seriously. I have no business owning a sewing machine. I will admit to making him take out the garbage on Tuesday mornings. Sorry, love. That’s a terrible job.
I asked her where she ever got an idea like that and she said from some kids at school. Boys at school. Boys who wouldn’t let her join races because she’s a girl and therefore not fast. Boys who won’t let her build towers with them because she’s a girl and therefore not capable. Boys who won’t let her play ball with them because she’s a girl and therefore isn’t athletic.
My husband and I pointed out to her that she IS all of those things. And it makes no difference whether she’s a girl or a boy. All that matters is that she finds a dream and chases it. She loves sports. She loves sparkly shoes. Her favorite color is pink, but she will wear it while swinging a golf club. She actually loves being a girl, she just didn’t think it would offer her the same opportunities as being a boy would. How sad is it that it didn’t matter that her best friend, a boy, treats her as an equal, that for the most part she is surrounded by males who would never treat her as less than, but one or two kids tell her she is and she questions her worth? Oh, I will not have that.
We’ve come a long way, but there are still miles to go before we sleep, friends. Miles.