Friday, April 3, 2015

Don't Read That-It's For GIRLS!

I’m a Mom of a funny, adorable, smart, little boy.  He likes soccer, hockey, the Patriots, Legos, trucks, radio controlled planes, riding his bike, making a mess, art, musicals, and television.  He likes watching cooking shows that feature Bobby Flay, cartoons like Star Wars Rebels, Scooby Doo, Wild Kratts, and yes Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First.  GASP!  Aren’t those shows for girls?  As parents, we have never classified anything as “for boys” or “for girls.”  You like what you like, and that’s the end of it.  There are no “girl colors” and there are no “boy jobs.”  We have done this for two reasons.  One, I don’t want him to feel that there are things he can’t enjoy because he’s a boy, and two, I don’t want him to treat women as if they, and their interests, are inferior.  

I am doing my best to let him make his own choices.
I am doing my best to teach him that men and women are equal.
I am doing my best to not raise a chauvinistic man.

Unfortunately, sometimes the outside world doesn’t help.  Since entering the public school system, my son has come home from time to time asking if something is “girly” and if he is allowed to like something.  When it comes to t.v. shows I explain that they are written by writers, just like Mommy writes plays.  I then ask him if my plays are only for girls, or only for boys.  The answer generally satisfies him and he goes back to doing whatever he was doing.

This week a friend shared an author’s blog on Facebook.  The blog shared was Shannon Hale’s, author of the Princess Academy series.  This is not a series I am familiar with, but after reading her blog, I have to pick up one of her books.  The blog entry that is circulating is about the troubling phenomenon that happens at her appearances, mainly schools.  It seems that when she visits a school, the boys are not invited to the assembly.  Shannon does not write books about the female body, or books that are anti-boy.  Apparently her faux pas is far worse; she uses the word princess is in the title of her books. 

As a society, we seem so worried about how girls perceive themselves.  And rightly so.  I was raised by a mother who constantly told me that only my looks mattered during my most impressionable years.  (Luckily I’ve always been a bit of a rebel and didn’t abide by her backwards school of thought!)  I understand the importance of empowering girls.  I hope I do so as an educator, and if I ever have a daughter, I hope to do so as a mother.  However, it seems that boys get lost in the mix today.  Where is the movement to let our boys know that it is okay to use a pink Easy Bake Oven, or watch a television show that has a girl as the protagonist; or God forbid, a book?  Telling boys that some colors, shows, or books, are not for them and are only for girls teaches them that there is a difference between the sexes and should be treated so.  If we really want to empower girls, let’s tell the boys that it’s okay to like whatever it is that they like.  We often hear of women getting less pay than men, but we start out telling boys that their interests are superior to girls, as long as they don’t share a common ground.  Because when you do, it’s “girlie” and “not for boys” which undeniably sends the message to our impressionable boys that girls, then women, are inferior.

I attached Shannon Hale’s blog.  Her story is a good one.  She made me think, and I bet she’ll make you think as well!  I haven’t blogged in ages, in fact this is the first time I have done so in 2015.  Her words made me jump up and start writing.

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