Sunday, November 20, 2005

Responding to Stupidity

I am the mother of three sons. I find that despite the fact that I grew up in a female-dominated family (Dominated only by the presence of females, mind you. There was no majority rule. My father was every inch the Captain Von Trapp-type...minus the singing part and the little whistle), it was a bit of a shock to find myself living with so many males.

And it was an even greater shock to find myself LIKING it. I'm actually good at being a guy mom, despite having absolutely no training for the task. But I am continually bombarded by women of my mother's generation who ask me if I want to try for a girl. When I answer "no", they seem momentarily shocked, as if my answer somehow upended their view of how the world should be. (i.e. Women should ALWAYS want girl children).

Insisting that I don't want four of ANYTHING only inspires them to regale me with stories of how their poor mothers raised five kids in a log cabin with in the woods where bears ran rampant and how Pa played the fiddle at night and how sad it was when scarlet fever took Mary's eyesight....oh, wait...sorry.....wrong story. One lovely woman DID ask me that, if I COULD replace one of my three boys with a girl, which one would it be? At the time, there was a nice woman standing with us who had her 3-year old daughter with her and they both seemed to be waiting for an honest answer. I was totally flummoxed. Did they really think that some nameless/faceless phantom female child could replace any of the livestock--er--boys I have now?

Casually pointing out to these morons the obvious fact that I am past the baby-making stage brings only rapid eye blinks followed by a pointless discussion about how young I look to them (irrelevant when considering motherhood) and how great it would be to have someone to take to ballet lessons (okay, now I'm going to have to hurt you).

And then I have to get brutal and tell them that I don't really miss having daughters. Don't want them, even.

*pause for audible gasp*

Sure, the reasons for this position are legion, even though I like girls just fine--plus--I AM a girl. I see the relationships that decline between mothers and daughters during adolescence and I send up a silent prayer of thanks that I don't have to go through that. And the part where I spend three afternoons as week hauling a kid to ballet lessons? That's sort of a dumb reason for trying to have a female child, isn't it.

The truth is, I would have tried really hard to raise my daughter the same way we're raising our boys. And that means we'd give them the same opportunities and the same privileges and expect the same kinds of behavior.

There are a few other reasons, but the biggest one is that I haven't totally resolved for myself what it means to be a female in this country. If I can't explain to my daughter why this country is still arguing over whether or not a raped woman should be required to bear the subsequent child, I would feel I wasn't doing my job. (I'm giving out big props to all you mothers of daughters out there who are trying to pull this kind of job off as we speak).

Here are a few other things that bug me:

1)A man takes his hat off when the American flag passes by in a parade, but women aren't required to.
2) Older men frequently don't offer to shake my hand in public unless I stick mine out first. When they DO shake my hand, they only grab my fingers...not the whole hand. Painful! Painful and insulting. Despite the very traditional views my father had, a firm handshake was non-negotiable. It was the hallmark of a strong person.
3) I still get birthday cards from my relatives that have Mrs. Bob Smith (not my real name) on it. Even on my own birthday...geez...and my name isn't even on the card. I complain all the time, but to no avail.
4) Even though it's one of the most syndicated shows on Planet Earth, no one, at the time, thought it was strange that Lucy was spanked by her husband on the "I Love Lucy" show.
5) Guys often still claim that cooking is really for girls, but the best chefs are men. That ballet and dance is for sissies, but the best dancers are really men.

Okay...I could say more, but I won't. I'll let you do that. Mind you, I'm not bashing men . I LOVES THE MENS! But a girl's got a right to speak out.


Blogger Dan said...

I think I like you. you are intelligent and reasonable. Can't wait to read more.

Tell you what I'll trade you or weather in NY for your hot TX weather just for one day. How about it?


11:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

OOPS! That should have been 'our' not or!

11:02 AM  
Blogger john boy said...

I didn't see this as bashing men at all. I don't believe double standards should have a place just because they are tradition. Each individual has their strengths and weakenesses that have nothing to do with gender. I enjoyed your post.

11:43 AM  
Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

I'm am so there with you. How many times did people tell me to "keep trying for that girl" like my three boys were some kind mistake? It is definately one of my hot button issues. I love being a boy mom and definately what I am good at. Though they can drive me crazy every now and then...

1:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wordgirl, Dad did too have a whistle. It was not silver, but GOD you could here it all over the neighborhood. And like summoned dogs, we would go running!

3:47 PM  
Blogger Plain Jane said...


5:27 PM  
Blogger Nilbo said...

Hehe. My situation in reverse. I cannot tell you how many people - even my sisters, for God's sake - who would say to me "Come on ... you'd really like to have a son, wouldn't you?"

Um, no. I have two beautiful young women, and I've never once felt the need for any other brand.

I wouldn't have traded the hours spent at dance class for hours on a snowbank watching hockey games. I don't see the real distinction, except that I was always warm and my sisters got frostbite.

I, too, raised my kids as if there were no differences between the sexes. My older daughter recently graduated with a degree in Music - she's a classical pianist - and also has a black belt in karate.

I didn't need to have a son to end up with a kid who could kick my ass.

7:40 PM  
Blogger Xanx said...

I come from a female-dominated family too. And I find it interesting how much easily you've taken to the drastic change :D. I've really enjoyed this post and am hoping to read more of your writing! ;)

7:54 PM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

In many ways I'm sure it's worse for men who produced an exclusively female
set of offspring.

Think about it. Many people still act as though there's some magnetic force out there preventing a woman from inheriting the last name of her father. This culture automatically limits itself based on subjective and antiquated traditions in many ways.

Nilbo--you are a rare and wonderful bird. Your daughters are most fortunate.

8:31 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Whatever their label is, alot of people really do not really think for themselves, they really cannot see beyong expected behavior and beliefs.

6:19 AM  
Blogger mrtl said...

You had me at the Bush countdown.

Expecting equal respect doesn't equate to male bashing as I see it. Your arguments are absolutely legitimate.

There was a woman at my company whose handshake was a litmus test for new employees. It was an extremely firm handshake; she sorted out the candy asses who didn't belong there.

8:25 PM  

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