Friday, December 3, 2010
Teaching Our Girls
I blog about this topic kind of a lot, since it's near and dear to me. But, just to catch you up, when they asked if we wanted to select a gender before getting our adoption referral, I knew I wanted a girl. I felt like I had so many things to teach a girl and that I really wanted a daughter. I'd feel guilty about specifying this except I don't. Fortunately, Don didn't care either way and was happy to agree to this.
Of course, your confident passion on what to teach your daughter gets a little shaky when you've actually got one, when all your philosophies and theories have to meet practical application. But it's a topic nearly always on my feminist mind.
First of all, enough enough enough with the "standing on the front porch with a shotgun" thing. I've already ripped on the whole notion of the overprotective father as some kind of adorable metaphor. It's worth saying again, though, have some confidence in your daughter's judgement and afford her some agency. And never think it's cute to accept a rape culture as just the way men are wired. They aren't. Have some respect for your gender, dudes. Honestly, it kills me that feminists have the reputation of man-haters. Clearly, the biggest man-haters out there are the people who market beer. We feminists like men, and demonstrate that by not expecting them to act like addlepated fuckwits.
Here's another one, though, that's been quite on my mind: teach your daughter that it's not her job to be sexually appealing. It's nice to look nice. It's nice when other people think you look nice. But it's time to rid our girls of the notion that their primary obligation is to look good. Yesterday, I read comments on THREE separate blogs about how old-looking or poorly dressed Hillary Clinton is (one of which charmingly referred to her as "fatarse."). Sarah Jessica Parker will have to address "aging in Hollywood" in every fucking interview she does. But her husband, former teen heartthrob, will never be asked that. That Beer in Hell movie, for the love of the FSM, got made!
Praise your daughter for being smart, for being funny, let her be weird and don't obsess about her hair (I'm having SUCH a hard time with that one). Don't raise her in an environment where you mock and marginalize women who don't fit a heteronormative (and increasingly impossible) idea of what a woman should look like. Raise your girls so that if someone makes fun of how she looks, she'll feel confident enough to let it roll off her back.
You know that mean girl thing that we hear about so often, the slam books and the blithe tossing about of "bitch" and "whore"? They learn that shit somewhere. Probably not from their parents (except for maybe really awful parents). But it's rife in our culture and when we take on the responsibility for raising girls, we take on the responsibility for teaching them that it's not right and they don't have to accept it. It's a hard ass lesson to teach, when so much in the culture acts against us. But I suspect it's not such a hard one to learn.