Friday, January 08, 2016

And soon, in a park that was Girl Land before, you'll do what you like, and you'll be who you are.

Yesterday when I picked up the kids from their after-school program, Josie announced, "Mama, I have a new boyfriend."

She has a new "boyfriend" fairly regularly, generally some poor little dude who becomes the object of her hugs and hair scruffles and occasional kisses on the head.

She's not a shy girl, is what I'm saying.

Which, hey, why not, right?  It's the 21st century.  There's no reason women can't or shouldn't go after what they want.

But still, a part of me wants to tell her to play at least a little hard to get.  She's only six - a little young to get herself branded as the Violet Bick of the elementary school,

"Who's your new boyfriend?" I asked.

"Adam," she said.  A cute boy in her class with a gorgeous head of curly black hair.

"So what does it mean that he's your boyfriend?" I asked. "Does it mean you talk to him or sit with him at lunch or something?"

"I give him pictures that I draw."

A relationship based upon exchanging works of art.  I like it.

Later, when we were at home chilling out and watching a movie (the Karate Kid remake, which was surprisingly not sucky), Josie sat at the coffee table in the living room and worked diligently on a picture she was coloring.  She worked on it for at least an hour and a half.

At one point, I said, "kids, as soon as the movie is over, you're going to bed," and she huffed at me, "Mama!  How am I supposed to finish Adam's picture?? I won't have enough time!"

I rolled my eyes.  "Then you'll have to finish it in the morning, but you're going to bed when the movie's over."

A little while later, she came over to show me the picture.  She had done a beautiful job, coloring the moon and stars in bright colors.

"Does Adam draw pictures for you too?"

She gave me a look like I was high.  "No, of course not."

"What do you mean?  Why not?"

"Because I do stuff for him, he doesn't do stuff for me."

What the fuck??

"Josie, if he's your boyfriend, he should be doing nice things for you, too.  Don't act like you're his servant."

"I am his servant," she responded.

"No, you're not.  Girls don't exist to do things for boys.  Girls and boys are equal, and if they're friends or boyfriend and girlfriend, they should both be doing nice things for each other."

She blew me off and went back to writing, "To Adam, love Josie" on the bottom of the picture.

I found this entire exchange very disturbing.

I am an unabashed, enthusiastic feminist.  And not in the bra-burning, humorless, man-hating sense that certain people have wrong-headedly taken the word to mean.  I love my bras, I have a great sense of humor, and God knows I adore men (my life would be so much easier if I didn't, but alas).  No, I am a feminist because I believe women should be treated equally before the law, in business, and in society in terms of their opportunities, that they should be granted the same agency and autonomy as men, and that they shouldn't be judged according to double standards, sexual or otherwise.

Nothing about the way I conduct myself or live my life could possibly give my children any reason to believe anything but that women should be in relationships in which they are true partners, that they should strive for whatever career they desire and are qualified for, or that they should in any way be viewed or treated as lesser than men.

So why is my daughter overtly declaring that having a boyfriend means that she is his servant?

Not sure how to handle this one.  It might be time to download Free To Be You and Me, which I never thought my children would need, a full 43 years after it was released.


  1. You gave that CD to Emma as a birthday/holiday gift, probably around the same age as Josie <3 <3 <3

  2. Yes Wendy, Free to Be You and Me! Keep the 1970s alive! :) Seriously, if I had kids they would have that shit memorized at an early age, I love it so much. Love your blog, I want to visit Denver one of these days! ~Jen from Cyprus