Stinky Stinky Boys

There'a danger in raising a housefull of children of only one gender. One day you might realize that you've raised a bunch of sexist-pigs, which is especially interesting if you're raising a bunch of females.

A few days ago I was baby-sitting a friend's children. You wouldn't believe the uproar from my boys when the three-year-old called them "stinky stinky boys". The horror! As hard as it is to believe, my boys have never been aware of discrimination against anyone based on gender. It was a new concept for them. A concept they didn't like.

The three-year-old looked a little concerned, and I figured that she was only mimicing her older sisters, so I didn't unleash the full wrath of the-adult-in-charge. I just told her firmly that it was rude to call people names. This satisfied Ron, but Lee was ready to see her decapitated! He looked at me, realized that I wasn't going to kill her, and announced loudly for all of us to hear "Well, I guess I'll just have to TELL. HER. MOTHER." (It has dawned on me that Lee might be a tad ... vindictive? I think I prefer to think of it as justice-oriented.)

It drifted from my mind until my friend came by to pick up the girls hours later. As her husband loaded the girls into the van, I stood in the door chatting with my friend. Lee sidled up to us, and burst out with his accusation! She jerked back a little, and responded knee-jerk with "surely not". Lee was not derailed, repeating his accusation. My friend was speechless. Lee, obviously patiently waiting for acknowledgement, was satisfied when I told him "She'll deal with it privately in her van". Off he went to go play with the puppies, serene. Convinced that he had brought about justice in his little world.

My friend recovered her voice, and blurted out "I can't believe she said that in public! Thats what we say at our house, but ..."

Now, I've long suspected that my friend has gone overboard trying to encourage her four girls to be strong women. But, life is about more than "girl power". I understand her desire to innoculate them against the images that society and the media bombard them with. However, boys are not the enemy.

I suspect that her girls are going to eventually be interested in dating boys. What nice boy in his right mind is going to want to date a girl who thinks he's inferior by virtue of the fact that he's a boy? Is she going to treat him with respect and consideration? Its not likely.

And has this focus on "girls are better" made her girls confident and bursting with self-esteem? No. No, it has not.

I think the answer is to encourage self-confidence and self-esteem on an individual level, on a human level. I don't want to raise strong boys or strong girls. I want to raise strong people.

Make Waves

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