Friday, May 11, 2012

Girls Can't...

So, we’re sitting playing at the library…

(And no, this is not a post about one of the numerous fights I’ve gotten into while at the library.  Why do people feel so compelled to be stupid there?  They MAKE me call them out; it’s their own fault.  However, if I keep having these mishaps we’re going to have to move to a different town.)

I digress.

So, we’re sitting playing at the library and Carter pulls out a puzzle.  It’s a bunch of different types of hats: magician hat, cowboy hat, fireman helmet, something else I can’t remember…

He comes up to me and asks me which hat I would like to wear.  I said I would enjoy wearing the fireman helmet:

“But you’re a girl.  You can’t be a fireman.”

“Why not? Girls can be firefighters.” (I thought I had realized my error and started saying “firefighters” to take out the word “man” and hopefully lessen the confusion.)

“No. Girls can’t be firemen or firefighters. You wanna wear the cowboy hat?” (Apparently the word “boy” had no bearing on my ability to wear THAT hat.)

At this point we had attracted the attention of some other parents.  They were probably wondering what kind of horrible mother raises such a sexist child.  Or, more likely, they were wondering why a grown woman was openly fighting with her three year old in the library.

It had never occurred to me that children paid attention to gender roles this young.  He’s only three, mind you.  I had no idea he even knew the difference between girls and boys.  So I thought maybe it was just a fluke thing and really he understood that girls could do everything boys could do, its 2012 not 1912 after all.   

Cut to two days later.  We were playing with his matchbox cars in the playroom:

“Mom, which car do you want to drive?”

“Umm…the pick-up truck.”

“No.  Girls can’t drive pick-up trucks.”

What the hell!

Here's me trying to prove him wrong...

Where is he getting his information from?  I guess just casual observation.  No matter how much I tell him that girls can drive pick-up trucks too, the fact remains that the majority of pick-up truck drivers are male.  And come to think of it, I can’t remember if I’ve ever seen a female firefighter. 

These two conversations got me thinking…am I subconsciously raising a gender biased child? 

I didn’t mean to be.  I want my kids to think that girls can operate heavy machinery and boys can be princesses if they want to.  I want them to live their dreams and be whatever they want when they grow up.  (If they survive that long, that is.  Cause there are days I think they may not.)

Looking back, however, I think (know) I may have said the following:

“Only girls wear make-up.”

“Only Daddy uses the tools.”

“Pink is for girls” (Even though Carter really likes pink, and I’m totally ok with that)

Oh Man! I’m completely and totally guilty!

It doesn’t help that my husband and I personify the stereotypical gender roles.  He fixes everything, tunes up the cars, cuts the grass and takes out the trash. I wear the make-up, use the blow dryer, put on the dresses…

Um…I just realized this is making our relationship is sound a little unbalanced.  But don’t worry.  He also does the cooking.

Regardless, Mike mostly does the “man” things and I do the “woman” things.  And Carter is observant and recognizes this fact. 

Assembling a table with Daddy.  Very Manly.
I don’t want him thinking there’s anything in this world that he can’t do because of his gender.  And I want him to be respectful of a woman’s right to do everything a man can do…but still be willing to open up her pickle jar if she needs him to.

Now that I’m aware of his opinions I’m going to have to find some way to combat this thinking.  So if you know any truck driving firewomen send them my way, please.


  1. I drive a pick-up;) The only vehicles we own are pick up trucks! Although.... my husband is the fire fighter of the family.

    1. Yay! Good to hear from pick up driving ladies!! I'll pass along the info =)

  2. with my hubs being a fireMAN, there is one woman on at their department and she's worthless. seriously, worthless. ask him. so as much as we are for gender-equality, in our house, women aren't firemen.

  3. To be fair, he is three. Concrete operational thinking isn't something he'll master for years to come. So, abstract ideas such as gender roles, or even just things like knowing birds fly, all birds fly. A penguin is a bird, so it flies... Right? Little harder to get til you learn and see at his age.