Am I wrong to let my daughter enjoy being girly then?

(210 Posts)
pictish Tue 08-Oct-13 10:28:33

DD is four - she will be five in Feb. I have two sons as well.

I have never encouraged or acknowledged a marked differentiation between the sexes, regards their interests and clothing. I always steered away from that stuff, letting them make their own minds up.

However, dd has embraced girliness wholeheartedly. She loves pink, and dresses, and My Little Pony and all things sparkly. In the interests of autonomy, and cultivating her own tastes, I don't mind it in the least.

I am starting to feel though, that through reading MN, unless she is playing football in bovver boots, I am doing her a disservice.
My mil (who is lovely really) is rolly eyed about all things pink and girly, and can't resist from making little comments about it. "Oh that's a very fancy dress" (sarcastic).

I have explained that the girliness is her own choice, and just what she happens to like, but I think it goes over her head...mil wants to think it's me pushing this onto her. It isn't.

I sometimes wonder if, in the quest for equality, we sometimes go too far the other way, and heap scorn upon girls who want to be girly? I feel the need to defend my dd's right to love pink and sparkly, as it is now heralded as so deeply uncool.

I thought it was all about offering choices...but nowadays (particularly on MN) it seems as though a girl being girly is a failure.

Anyone?

pictish Sat 12-Oct-13 08:29:39

Improveprofy - there is no doubt about that. What would you have me do anout it. other than what I am...which is to educate her in choice?

Threalamandaclarke Sat 12-Oct-13 06:43:22

It's unavoidable IMO.
Gender differences in behaviour are seen in children as young as six months. Arguably a mix of biological/ inate differences and (even subconscious) socialisation.
I personally think it's ok to celebrate these differences. But I also thin it's important to appreciate that we've influenced some of them, that some are contrived and some even need to be challenged in order for our daughters and sons to experience fairness (for want of a better word).

So when primary teachers tell us that all the boys do play with cars and all the girls do play with the dolls, this should be understood within the context of early socialisation(as someone else said here).
Also, it 's important to attribute value to all these different qualities. (competitiveness/ nurturing etc.)

I was intested to read the comment above about the differences in toys, with those that are conventionally boy's toys actually being more developmentally 'useful' and I'm keen to encourage friends and family to help us not pigeonhole my DCs too much with gift choices.

improveprofy Sat 12-Oct-13 01:36:08

You might not have gender stereotyped, but I bet she picks up on the stereotyping at school from other pupils who have been fed gender stereotypes

Threalamandaclarke Fri 11-Oct-13 12:22:21

Ooh. I have just been to the library and picked up "Zog" and "the paper bag princess" can't wait to read them to DCs tonight.

pictish Fri 11-Oct-13 11:16:30

Sounds good - will deffo check it out!

Ev1lEdna Fri 11-Oct-13 10:26:37

pictish I just bought my friend's daughters a book I read to my boys called 'Who's a Clever Girl Then?' by Rose Impey. It is out of print but you can get it for a penny plus postage (so £2.81) on Amazon. I love it because it is about pirates kidnapping the young girl to do all the sewing, cooking and cleaning on the ship and she refuses and just takes over becoming captain. I read it to my boys because I think the message is a good one for them too! grin I strongly recommend it.

78bunion Fri 11-Oct-13 09:48:36

Indeed. I am a feminist too and the important issue is not to curtail choice. Our oldest was just married, beautiful dress etc. She knows that what I value is what is inside and not surprisingly she is very fit, on nearly £100k, sees women's careers as important, does loads of physical things and has a nice rounded happy life.

That did not preclude her looking how she wanted to look on her wedding day, although even there we had important feminist elements - female speaker, no being walked down the aisle, no asking for permission to marry her. I am absolutely delighted at what has emerged from her feminist upbringing.

pictish Fri 11-Oct-13 09:48:23

So let your girl revel in the pink - it doesn't mean she will grow up with a princess complex - like someone else said upthread read her books where girls take the lead, where they can wear pink and still adventure and be boss and discover things. I'm sure she is quite capable of asserting herself in a tutu and glittery shoes.

Yes indeed. That is exactly how I feel about it. I DO buy empowering story books (I make a point of it actually), and am determined that my daughter should be assertive and capable, and confident in making her own choices, unmolested by the expectations of society owing to her gender. She can do all of that in whatever clothes she likes.

Ev1lEdna Fri 11-Oct-13 09:42:02

It is a choice. I am a feminist (I would say hardline) who happens to like nail varnish and glittery nail varnish in particular, however I have a number of other interests.

I agree with the other posters, it isn't about curtailing her freedom to choose but questioning the choice retailers and marketing allow for girls (all girls). If she likes that then so be it, she like a lot of girls enjoy the 'girliness.' The problem occurs when another girl doesn't WANT to wear pink or be a princess and prefers a science set to a baby doll and is scorned for it. The problem is when boys WANT the pink lunch box or to play with the dollhouse and is subject to ridicule because pink is a 'girl colour'.

I have no issue with children choosing to like what they want, my issue is when they are forced to like a certain interest/colour/toy becasue society (and most likely marketing people) dictate that they SHOULD.

So let your girl revel in the pink - it doesn't mean she will grow up with a princess complex - like someone else said upthread read her books where girls take the lead, where they can wear pink and still adventure and be boss and discover things. I'm sure she is quite capable of asserting herself in a tutu and glittery shoes. wink

20wkbaby Fri 11-Oct-13 08:34:20

Thinking about it we should all take a leaf from the books of 3/4/5 year old girls who worship pink precisely because they identify it as a girls' thing - they certainly don't see it as frivolous and silly - until we or someone else teaches them otherwise.

I truly believe that whatever influences your child is subject to the ones that come from family - mainly parents - are the ones that really 'stick'.

If my daughter shows a preference for anything - other than swearing, being unkind, refusing food without trying etc etc - I try and be supportive and applaud her choice. She needs to know her choice matters and she has a right to it no matter who tries to deny it to her.

Threalamandaclarke Fri 11-Oct-13 06:24:03

Please may I be excused from DIY? grin

Coupon Thu 10-Oct-13 22:23:38

I don't like the word "tomboy" either. A girl who enjoys toy trucks and football isn't "like a boy", she's a girl who likes those things which are in fact just as much for girls as they are for boys.

LadyRainicorn Thu 10-Oct-13 18:58:23

I need a crease beast. Sounds swanky.

I can't say what I want to on mlp because I love the show and want to rant about the horror that is the movie they made of the back of it.

I agree that the general feeling is pink=girly=lesser. It's a shame. I think it links in with the devaluing of work traditionally associated with woman - cleaning, caring.

I would like one day for people to be able to choose what they like, for them, and for the only judgement to be - did they do it well? Is the person concerned happy?

I'd like that day to be today. I'll keep hoping and acting like it will be.

ThisIsMeToo Thu 10-Oct-13 18:47:10

Sorry ...
She had her brothers' toys to play with but no dolls etc 'because she doesn't like them' (well she never had the choice !). As a toddler and young child, she had hand me downs from her brothers but no skirts etc because she doesn't like them and it will be impractical to play out in the garden.
She was never given the opportunity to be different from her dbs. And she certainly struggled with it as she doesn't 'fit' and her mum despairs she is a tomboy...

You can't have it both ways. Girls need to be let to be girls but not the weak female version that we are all sold. Not the one that needs her dinosaur to be pink if she wants one.
But one who is happy to wear a dress, run around in a garden, go and do some DIY with daddy and some cooking with mummy (or even better some cooking with daddy and some DIY with mummy)

SinisterSal Thu 10-Oct-13 18:45:10

It leaves poor Anne washing up, iirc

ThisIsMeToo Thu 10-Oct-13 18:39:08

The reality is that treating our dcs in the same way is very very hard. There is so much that is coming out from our own attitude, wo even realizing. The fact that we are insisting perhaps that little bit more on how pretty a little girl is with a costume or how clever a little boy is for climbing on the top of the frame.
On the other side, a little girl in my family has never being 'allowed' to be a girl. She has 3 brothers, two of which are older and canbe bossy. She had her brother's toys to

Threalamandaclarke Thu 10-Oct-13 18:23:25

I don't like the term "tomboy".
It's all a bit "George - out - of - The Famous Five" hated being thought of as "like a girl" because she was "just as good as a boy"
So where does that leave poor Anne? Hmm?

It's a circular process though, isn't it?

At the moment, a little girl has to grow up in the world we have. If you do what my mum did, and say 'you don't like pink! Pink is bad!' you are effectively teaching that little girl that what everyone else associates with being a girl, is bad.

I think it also depends how men in our lives act (well, duh, I know). But I've seen my friend's little girl's dad explain seriously that daddy's favourite colour now has to be pink, and daddy is completely happy wearing the sparkly tiara.

That's a dad who is making it easy for his daughter to enjoy what she enjoys, without making gendered connections.

PenguinsDontEatPancakes Thu 10-Oct-13 17:45:11

Yes, yes WhentheRed. I was ranting earlier on this thread about how 'girly' - which, when you think about it can only mean 'like a girl' - means a girl who likes pink and sparkles and princesses and dolls. My girls are just as much girls whether they like trains or dolls and I really resent language telling me that they aren't.

Liking pink should mean liking pink, not 'being girly'. Tom boy gives me the rage even worse. DD1 is not a pretend fucking boy. She is a girl.

WhentheRed Thu 10-Oct-13 17:38:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DalekInAFestiveJumper Thu 10-Oct-13 17:37:36

On a side note, does she watch the My Little Pony tv show? One of the ongoing themes of said show is that there are many ways to be a girl, and that as long as you're a good person, all of those ways are equally good. It's good stuff.

SatinSandals Thu 10-Oct-13 17:21:41

If you stop them having a free choice, and impose your ideas, you are only going to make the pink etc far more desirable. Much better to let them work through it. I know some women who are OTT 'girly' purely because they were denied it when young.

5madthings Thu 10-Oct-13 17:10:03

And I can see the confusion over your reply to bonsoir

5madthings Thu 10-Oct-13 17:09:07

Bloody autocorrect defaulting to american spelling...I need to change that in my settings..

5madthings Thu 10-Oct-13 17:08:30

basil its not that the color is a problem, its that the colors signify girl/boy and then children won't play with stuff that is seen as for the 'wrong' gender. And I think girls at least can get away with playing with 'boys' stuff and it is seen as OK or even a good thing when they do. Yet a boy who plays with 'girls' stuff is often ridiculed, likely to be teased.

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