When I had a daughter, something that still seems a surprise to me, I felt an extra responsibility that I’d not experienced with either of the boys. I knew that as she moved through life she would have more challenges to negotiate, more hills to climb. I was always relived I didn’t have to fight against the sea of pink for the boys, although it annoyed me that it wasn’t long before they identified it as a ‘girl’s colour’. The pinkness of girlhood is only the start of it. Telling girls what they can be starts at a young age and it’s pervasive in our culture. I knew I’d have to fight against that and I do.
However, as Lady Mck got older she began to get her own ideas about what she likes and what she wants. She began to put the boy’s doll in the wooden block truck and take it for a walk and I knew she’d love a pushchair of her own for Christmas, but I resisted. I dismissed it as too girly.
Then, it occurred to me that this was wrong too. Why should she be put in any box? Wasn’t I doing just the thing I hated? I realised that if the boys had ever done the same with their doll, I would have gladly bought them a pushchair. I was deciding for her how she should express herself, how she should be. So, we found a pushchair at the car boot sale, it was blue (Yes! *punches air*) and the boys gave it to her for Christmas and she loves it. She also got a shopping bag and the first thing she did was hook it over the handle, put her doll in the seat and walk around the house like this for most of the day.
She runs, she climbs. She has no fear. She is known in the school playground for falling over, getting up, dusting her knees and carrying on. She might grow up to be girly girl, she might not, but in a house where she will always be told she can do whatever she wants, where she will be shown that she has choices in what she wears, plays with and how she decorates her room and what she is interested in, she deserves to be given the full choices.
Telling her that everything deemed to be female is to be avoided is limiting her choices and who am I to do that? I am sure I will still encourage her to look wider than the ‘pink’ choice, because if you went along with what we are shown and what we are sold you would think there was no other colour for girls, in a way that doesn’t happen with blue and boys, but I will let her choose the pushchair, or the princess tiara. I will just make sure that we at least call in a Queen tiara. If we’re going down that road she may as well be the boss!
We still live in a world where being a woman makes everything just that little bit harder, where traditionally female responsibilities are thought of as lesser, whether they are done by a woman or a man and I refuse to add to this by giving my daughter the impression that her choices are wrong. That’s not the answer. Making sure she has a choice and sees all the colours, is.