A story from the Mom files:
Last night at the store the cashier told B. she was a princess. Ok, I understand that this is what people say when they think they are being nice, but please, cut this out! She was very insistent about it, and when B. loudly protested "No I am not, I am a queen!" she argued with her, repeatedly. They were having a battle of wills right there in the checkout line. I let B. argue her own case, but did explain to the cashier that she prefers to be a queen because queens have more power than princesses. So she tells my three year old daughter that queens sometimes get beheaded. WTH. B. just stared at her, defiant and uncomprehending. Why do some people so desperately need to put my little girls in their places?
What the heck, indeed?
Why must girls aspire to be princesses? Why must they long to own toys, books, and clothing that have been pink-ified? It seems as though parents must deal with these stereotypes from the moment a baby's gender is known. And if the parents don't buy in, or the child questions the societal expectations, there is plenty of push-back.
Or in this case, unaccountably, the threat of beheading.
We push girls to be decorative, to meet other people's needs, to be sensitive, to do the emotional work of relationships, to put other's needs first and their own needs last. We put clothing in the girls section that is less well-made and less functional than that in the boys section. All the while we steer girls to care about "fashion" and what is "on trend".
Then, one day, when they start to look less like girls and more like women, we "dress code" them and tell them they are "inappropriate." We blame the bad behavior of young men on what the young women were wearing. "It's your fault," we say to them, "look at what you were wearing."
What does a queen have that a princess doesn't, in this little girl's eyes? Agency. Independence. The power to lead. Respect for her abilities. But you don't want that, says the clerk. There could be, you know, consequences.
If the woman does what we don't want her do do she must be punished.
I'm sending out a particularly heart-felt HoCo Holler to this girl and her mom today. Good for you for keeping your heads when the rest of the world seems to be losing theirs.