Monday, November 10, 2014

Boys And Girls Are Not That Different

Excuse me while I get on my soapbox for a minute.

See, I have to admit something. I bought into the hype. Into the idea that's sold in every Target store. I bought into the premise that girls and boys were supposed to like certain things, or were supposed to be a certain way.

To be fair, this idea was instilled over a lifetime.

I remember my dad telling me how happy my grandmother was that she had two sons, because boys were so much easier to raise. And I thought that must be true.

The funny thing is, I don't think my dad agreed with her. But that's not the part of the story that resonated with me. Probably because this lie about the differences between boys and girls is sold to us in so many ways that we don't even realize.

I have walked through children's stores and seen the most adorable displays of girls clothes on mannequins, but noted that there weren't any little boy mannequins, as if I wouldn't want to dress them in cute outfits too. By the way, retailers, many of us really do like to dress our sons in cute outfits. So, if you put the displays up for them, we'll probably buy more.

Seriously, why bring us up to love dress up and then make it seem like the only babies who are going to be fun to dress up, are the ones born without a penis? That's just not fair.

So, I bought it. But then I had these kids. And they don't always fit the mold of "boy" and "girl". It turns out that they're people, and that can mean that they like just about anything.

I have a daughter who asked for a microscope, and is fascinated by Science and Engineering.  But the science and engineering toys aren't marketed to her. And the frilly pink clothes she loved, never had dinosaurs on them. Even though dinosaurs were cool.

And I have a little boy whose favorite present in a long time, has been a pink cape with stars on it. He showed me how he could wear it as a veil, and he told me that maybe he'd wear a veil when he got married. But he'd still be a boy, he said. Because he likes being a boy.

All of my kids seem to be pretty comfortable with their current gender. But that doesn't mean that they aren't interested in things that are supposed to be distinctly for the opposite sex. And they should be. They're kids. They should like anything they want. Girls can love baseball, and boys can love kittens. It won't signal the apocalypse, I promise.

So why is it that we encourage our little boys to build, create, and love things like science, but we basically tell our little girls that their dreams should be of princesses in castles?

They can all be princes and princesses in castles who are also curing cancer and studying fossils.

Problem solved.

And I'm going to say that the idea that any child would be harder or easier to raise because of their gender, is bullshit. I get why it feels true, because it's so subtly (and sometimes not subtly at all) ingrained in so many aspects of our society. But it's not true at all. And I never want my daughters to think that there is anything more difficult about them just because they have a vagina.

Vaginas may be inconvenient, sometimes. But, as I understand it, a penis can be from time to time, too. My girls may cry when their hormones go crazy, but when my oldest son went through puberty, he would get angry. We used to send him outside to walk, until the irrational rage died away. Because he knew his anger was irrational in the same way my girls know that they're crying for no earthly reason.

And the difference there is that my girls are being bombarded with estrogen, whereas my son was being bombarded with testosterone. But it has nothing to do with who they are as people.

Yes, boys can be hormonal, too. Just because it's a different hormone, doesn't make it any less true.

I can tell you that in my experience, none of my children have been harder to raise based on gender. Each of them has come with their own set of unique character traits, and they can all be hard in their own way.

Honestly, they can each be easy in their own way, too.

Kids are kids. And they deserve better than the stereotypes. Our daughters can logical, and our sons can be emotional.

They can all be capable. They can all be magical. They can all be special. They can all be loved for being exactly who they are. Which is something I think most of us instinctively know, but we're not challenging it as an idea. And maybe it's time we did.

Thank you for giving me a soapbox to stand on, and a platform from which I can rant about the world. Without you, I'd just be talking to myself. And that would require so much more therapy. Please click the link again today, if you wouldn't mind, which registers a vote for me. Thanks! I really appreciate it.
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