Monday, August 19, 2013

Giving Our Girls Some Chemical X (WIBWIW)

I've mentioned on Facebook that some family from out of town visited recently. My cousin brought her two girls, ages 3 and 6, and we had a BLAST! They departed Saturday morning for points north of New York and, while I have to admit to utter exhaustion, I was sad to see them go.

We walked around Manhattan, sang real songs and made up songs, watched The Powerpuff Girls (I still have VHS tapes—yes, VHS tapes—of the PPGs I'd bought for Balthazar years ago), and we laughed, a LOT.

We battled balloons, we swung around and got dizzy, we had tickle attacks, we played Shipwreck (in which I was the boat and rocked the girls into a bad storm at sea) and Airplane (in which I was the plane and they "flew" on the soles of my bare feet), we took tumbles, and we ate cupcakes.

I bought them each three books and none of them were about princesses. I quizzed them on stuff. I tried to comment on how pretty they were only once a day. If I told them they were cute, I also told them they were smart and strong.

You see where I'm going with this, peeps?

Though The Powerpuff Girls were made of "sugar, spice, and everything nice," the scientist who created them in his laboratory inadvertently mixed in some Chemical X. This is what gave the PPGs their super powers. And their super powers, in turn, give them the assurance that they can handle any monster who crosses their path, even when they're scared.

My sister, cousin, and I weren't given any Chemical X when we were kids. We were taught to be obedient, quiet, and above all, never to engage in behavior that could be considered ugly.

Well, funk that noise.

Let's teach our girls to be courteous, yes, and polite, and respectful. But let us also teach them to be messy. Let's show them how fun it is to get some dirt under their fingernails, as well as how pretty those nails can look with a few coats of polish. Let's teach our girls to be loud, when it's warranted. Let's teach them to run fast, kick balls, and swing bats.

Let's challenge our girls, rather than make things easy for them. Let's allow them to take a few falls and then show them how to get back up again. Let's talk to them about farts, and snot, and toe cheese.

Let's show them that clothes come in a wide spectrum of colors, not just pink. And let them know it's totally cool to prefer pink, too. Let them know they have options.

Let's give our girls some Chemical X and empower them to be whatever they want to be, not what someone tells them to be, or what they think they should be. Let them know they can just be, and that that is enough.



38 comments:

  1. I couldn't agree with you more!

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  2. What a beautiful post! I ditto Rocky! "I couldn't agree with you more!"

    I was taught it was preferable to be seen and never heard (and truthfully very seldom seen) I learned all those lessons via the road of hard knocks after being thrown out at the age of 17. No princess here! And today don't understand the desire to be one - you don't only hear it from the girls, but the women? WHY?

    Okay, off my soap box! Excellent post Mina, and I'll say it again! Excellent!

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    1. We were taught the same, Yolanda. Alas.

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  3. Good for you Mina!! I got the whole 'be more ladylike' crap when I was a kid but I just dug in my heels even more and shunned all things girlie.

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  4. Hear, hear! I'm trying to remember to limit the comments about cuteness and prettiness with my great-nieces, though it's hard because they're just so darned cute! But I do the same with the boys, with the cute and handsome comments. It's a good thing to remember that there are other things they should rely on. I like to think that my parents actually did try to see that all their daughters would be able to survive on their own, not relying on looks and a husband to keep them in shoes and chocolate (oh, wait; that's just me with the shoes and chocolate, not my sisters).

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    1. It's very hard to focus on praising kids' other qualities when they're so adorable you could sop them up with a biscuit. :-)

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  5. Amen, sister-friend! I tried to do this when I was a math teacher. Worked really hard to dispel the notion that boys are better than girls in math. Our school even got a grant to do this for math AND science with 7th and 8th graders and created some very specific programs that took place in the classrooms to work on this. I hope it made a difference. It's not the kind of thing you can measure the result of in one year. But we tried. I was never taught gender roles, even though The Swede and The Nutritionist have the most traditional of marriages. We were just allowed to be KIDS, which is why I spent my childhood building forts and racing boys, as well as playing with dolls and yes, Barbies, which I chose to spend my own money on since mom wouldn't buy anything Barbie...
    Tina @ Life is Good

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    1. That's pretty cool, that y'all weren't socialized to fit into any sexual stereotypes.

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  6. Must be me being a stupid guy, but I always thought they were called 'The Powderpuff Girls'... doh!

    I shall bow out before the sisterhood pow-wow turn on me and powderpuff my butt outta here! ;)

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    1. Uh...this isn't a man-hating post so I'm not sure where this is coming from, dude.

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  7. Great post! I have two boys but you better believe that I'd bring a girl up with lots of pow.

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    1. I almost want to have a girl of my own, just to put her in karate class. Almost. :-)

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  8. I loved this post, Mina! Those girls are lucky to have you in their lives.

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    1. Aw, thanks! I had to make the most of this visit as they live pretty far away and I dunno when I'll be able to see them next. :-(

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  9. So true. Unfortunately, many of us are often told the contrary.

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  10. I'm all for Chemical X and girl power but I just can't bring myself to embrace "farts, and snot, and toe cheese". I'd rather boys be a little more ladylike in those departments instead! ;D

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  11. Ok, I'm sorry to jump in here again, but really? Girls are not all things nice, as boys are not all things nasty.

    Last time I heard, boys and girls have the same bodily functions, all get snotty noses, get grubby faces and can have the same disgusting table manners. I'm sure none of you fart and have it smell like Channel #5.

    Sorry, but I feel someone from the male perspective has to stand up for us fellas, the wee ones and the tall ones. ;)

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    1. This post isn't an attack on your sex, but an encouragement for the toughening up of my own. Nowhere in this post did I write that girls are all things nice and boys are all things nasty. I wrote about the need for girls to be raised to want to be more than simply "pretty." I'm advocating the smashing of stereotypical gender roles. I didn't advocate the smashing of men.

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    2. lol... nor was I being offended (and there was I thinking you knew how my mind worked *rolls eyes*)- just thought I'd inject a little light-hearted banter from the male camp. But I think I've failed miserably :(

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    3. Ah, well. It can be difficult (sometimes impossible) to gauge tone, etc. from e-mails/texting/online stuff. Plus, it's a full moon today. Weirdness abounds! :-)

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    4. Just in case my comment may have bothered you, Mark, I didn't mean to imply that females didn't have just as many gross bodily functions and disgusting habits as men... just that I'd personally prefer it if both sexes kept them a little more to themselves. Then again, I do have an abnormally low tolerance for lack of decorum. I cringe when I see athletes spitting on sports fields, so there's no hope for me. :) I'm not anti boy. I love boys! I'm married to one. And my son... also a boy. ;) I despair for both sexes actually. Instead of becoming more enlightened, broadly speaking, they seem to be simply adopting the worst gender traits of each other. Girls are binge drinking and street fighting, while boys are becoming more and more preoccupied with their appearances.

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    5. And in case *I* wasn't clear, I want to say that I don't seek to encourage gross behavior, simply strong behavior. And also that, with this "princess" socializing of girls, there's also this thing about being *perfect* which, I'm sorry, no one on earth can possibly be.

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    6. Oh, I've just been being tongue-in-cheek, so I hope that didn't come across as me suggesting you encourage gross behaviour. I shouldn't be flippant during a full moon... and a blue one at that. :) I can't stand the "princess" mentality and I loathe the fact that modelling and beauty pageants are seen as the pinnacle of female achievement in this society. I think it would be tough raising a girl in this world. You started an important conversation.

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    7. Amen! And I'll even toss out a little hallelujah! :-)

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  12. Okay, I didn't read all of the "banter" above but I am the mom of boys and girls (and I'm completely exhausted). They both need to know they are accepted as is and be encouraged to do more. Finding that balance is incredibly difficult if not impossible. That's why we all have issues with our parents on some level. Girls have it hard because of body image. Boys have it hard because of different expectations put on them, although I agree appearance is an issue with boys too. The social pressure on kids now is incredible.

    That said, Power Puff Girls are awesome!!!

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    1. I agree; the pressures have been different but in some areas are growing more similar to one another.

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  13. Mina, this resonated with me!
    When we were young, we were told that children should be seen and not heard. Girls should be ladylike (nothing wrong with it) but it resulted in me being a pushover as a kid, and found it difficult to stand up for myself.
    We had to always be the better behaved, nicer, kinder, courteous, more disciplined ones...because "what will the neighbours think/say?"
    Btw, I'm all for courtesy, discopline, kindness etc. etc.

    Writer In Transit

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  14. Exactly!!! HUZZAH, my friend! Rock on with your badass self!

    Hugs!

    Valerie

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    1. YOU should write about this, Valerie, since you're raising an ass-kicking chick of your own! :-)

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  15. Amen, Sistah!

    Yet, it's hard to keep following that Rx when it feels like none of the other girls around your little ones prescribe.

    My girls love Star Wars and DC Comics and Legos right along with princesses and nail polish. They take flack about the first three from the other little girls who don't yet know how cool those things can be.

    It's really tough to keep the "Powerpuff" balance when your loves are the ones on the front lines taking the heat every day. But I still fight the good fight and tell them that girls are strong and smart and beautiful. In that order.

    Great post!

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    1. Right on, Ava - keep fighting the good fight!

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  16. Hi, Mina. I have boys, but comment you on how you'd love to bring up girls. You go, girl! Now, as for the Powerpuff Girls. My boys used to watch that back in the day. I still recall the "Beatles" episode. So hilarious!
    Have a great weekend!

    -Jimmy
    http://jamesgarciajr.blogspot.com/

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    1. My son and I *loved* watching The Powerpuff Girls. And actually, as I re-watched them with the girls, he joined us and we shared some giggles/chuckles over it. :-)

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