Monday, May 21, 2012

"___ like a Girl"

Subtitle: "Not to Worry: We'll Get Back to the Superficial Style Posts Tomorrow"

When people tell you how everything changes when you have children, you grimly laugh and acknowledge the vast unknown ahead of you, all the while secretly resolving not to change yourself one bit if you're able.

The thing is, some of that sea change sneaks up on you, politely tapping you on the shoulder as it brushes past through your front door. It's often a welcome intruder in the end, as it happens, but unexpected nonetheless.

Take, for example, some turns of phrase, little cultural sayings you toss off without thinking about them . . . a certain adult male in our home - let's call him the Anonymous Husband for sake of his privacy - occasionally uses the phrase "___ like a girl" as a pejorative. "You throw like a girl" and such.

Pre-kid me? Didn't sweat this silly, if sexist, phrase too much. Sure, I'd roll my eyes and call him out on it occasionally, noting that the woman he chose to marry was, surprisingly enough, once a little girl herself, not to mention the legion of other former little girls out there doing amazing things. Knowing in my cold, icy heart that the AH was (and is) no sexist, though, I'd quickly forget about it, preferring to pick and choose my marital battles.

photo credit: Ziem Photography (hi, Z!)

And then Change toddled in in the form of the wee CEO, and somehow the raising of a little boy, the stewardship of that role, changed my take on this. Over the weekend, when the AH told the crabby Master P to "stop whining like a little girl!", New Mom kicked in:

"You know, we really shouldn't use that phrase anymore. I'm serious. Plus, whining isn't gender specific - have you met you after your team loses?"

"Oh, settle down," he laughed. "I'm just kidding." 

"No, really. What will you tell our imaginary little girl one day when she's whining?"

[Silence] "Ok, ok. There may be a double standard at play here."

I realize it's just a phrase, but is it? Do I want our boy getting subtle messages from us - from society is a sad given - that being a girl is somehow lesser? Different, of course, but lesser - really?

I'm no PC warrior - this quasi-traditional lady is a stay-at-home-mom, for the love of Neiman Marcus - and I heartily roll my eyes at the Take Offense at Everything Team; that being said, I now see this stuff differently. I don't want to hand in my Sense of Humor card just because I have a kid, but the language we surround him with, and the feelings behind that - I just think it counts now. I didn't see this coming, but I do.

Off to wake up the boy and take care of the sick AH - like a girl.

What do you think? Any tips on this from the boy mom crowd?


Belle on Heels said...

Totally agreed. Not to get all soap-boxy, but the whole "being a girl means being weak" is something our society keeps subtly reinforcing, despite all of the awesome, super powerful, accomplished women out there. Since I'm a big believer that everything starts at home, a hearty "Bravo!" {sorry, "Brava!"} to you :)

Sara said...

It's very true. Now, that I'm a mom to a daughter (somehow I always envisioned little boys- no idea why) I'm trying to train my thinking and some of my own habits since, sooner than I want to admit, she'll learn and mimic so much of what it means to be female from me.

Rachelle said...

Oh gosh, I can so relate. My husband also says things that I can shake off and don't take to heart - usually innocuous comments that yet manage to have subversive gender expectations. Trying to get him to understand the effect that it will have on his daughter is challenging. Too often, the hidden meaning is so subtle, it's hard for me to even explain why it's problematic.
Long story short - I don't have any suggestion.

Mary said...

Whining in whining... now, scream like a girl? Ha ha. we all need to rethink sometimes.

Mary said...

Whining in whining... now, scream like a girl? Ha ha. we all need to rethink sometimes.

Wendy said...

I'm so with you on this one - and feel exactly the same way. It was never a big deal to me, until my little guy said to me, just the other day "mom - you throw like a girl." I immediately jumped to my defense saying a - yes, because I am a girl and b - where exactly did you hear that and what does that mean? Seriously, even at 7 they've already picked up that perception. Several days later, I amazed both little dude and hubs with my mad throwing and catching skills. Little did they know I was a tomboy.

Wynne said...

I completely agree! My little boy is only 8 months and I am already thinking about what I say to and around him. I want him to respect women - not see them as weaker or wimpier. Luckily my husband is mostly on board, although I suppose he has to be since I both shoot straighter and drive better than he does. ;)

emily said...

Great post.

I'm a new mom to a 6 wk old boy, and am trying already to be more aware of what is said around him. Kids are such sponges and pick up more than we think, so I'm hoping he only picks up good things from this girl! ha!

Anna said...

I completely agree!

LPC said...

Nobody should be using "gay" or "little girl" as derogatory adjectives. Those are people, not behaviors.

Perfectly Imperfect said...

as usual, great post. I couldn't agree more. I don't ever want my little girl to feel less because she's a girl or think that people think less of her because she is. So whining like a little girl? not an okay phrase. Whining like a dying hyena? that I could get behind. And is actually a better description anyway.

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