I’m the first one to criticise, well, everything, but having a little brother has made me realise how much I hate the default setting on the remote control of parenting. It’s rare that you get to witness a child being brought up- when they’re your own you’re often oblivious to the faults in your parenting or when it’s someone else’s child you don’t see them enough to establish what their parenting is like- so as sister with an age gap big enough to fit both Trump’s ego and hair, I feel like I’m in a pretty unique position. Here are some things I hate, from a feminist perspective, about modern parenting.
The Boys Wear Blue, Girls Wear Pink BS: My stepmum refused to dress her son in a purple jumper the other day because she didn’t want him to be mistaken for a girl. Like, seriously? Personally, I really hate the colour purple (I’m not a fan of the film either but I’ll take that out on Spielberg not you) so I don’t want to try too hard to defend it, but the fact you control what your child wears based on the fact they might be seen to be feminine just shows how fragile masculinity is. What’s so intrinsically important about the gender of your child that you place it above their comfort and freedom of choice? If bab wants to wear the purple jumper then let him look like a bar of Dairy Milk for the day.
And while we’re on the subject of clothing, would it not just be 13x easier for all babies to wear dresses, instead of having to unbutton the shirt, take off the trousers (I saw a mother with a baby wearing dungarees the other day and the impracticality burnt my eyes), undo the baby grow, etc. Stick ‘em in a dress, lift it up, change the nappy, done. Faff free. Until you realise you’ve left the Sudocrem at home. Again.
Presuming Your Child Is Heterosexual: Already my one year old brother has a girlfriend, according to his nursery. Now, I’m not being funny but, I’ve seen him interacting with this girl and I’m pretty sure he’s about as interested in her as he is in reading the original manuscript of Plato’s Republic. In fact, he’s pretty uninterested in anything except dinner and headbanging to the Firestarter by The Prodigy, but no- simply by sitting in the same room as a girl, she becomes his girlfriend. Logic? There is none.
The ‘I’ve Been At Work All Day So You Can Do Dinner’ BS: I heard my dad (luv u dad) use this line, or lines like this, a lot while my stepmum was on maternity leave, despite the fact you only had to spend a few hours with her to realise that looking after a tiny human is pretty much a full time job. In fact I’d much rather be sat at work all day because then at least you get a lunch break where you can just sit and watch golf or send photocopies of your bum to all your colleagues, without being interrupted by a baby screaming, mid-bum-scan. (M/P)aternity leave isn’t the get out of jail free card.
(So future husband note that I’ll be the one going to work bc I cba to put up with that crying all day, I will have done my 9 months so now it’s your turn)
The Mum Is Always Seen With The Daughter And The Dad Is Always Seen With The Son: This just confused me, especially in photos, unless you hate the other child then why do we always matchy-matchy people up based on gender? This is a family not a sock drawer.
Gendered Toys: Obviously, it’s not the parents fault that the Mothercare section for girls toys is like cooking set, dustpan and brush, magical ponies with wings that look like they’d probably strangle you in the night, plastic hoover, etc. meanwhile the boys section is full of pneumonic drills, racing cars, and farmyards and looks like it’s been sponsored by the British Army by the amount of khaki green, but the fact parents endorse these stereotypes makes them at fault. If we want to view women as more than homemakers then stop buying your daughters plastic domestic appliances- unless you’re buying them for your sons too. In which case your house is going to be the tidiest on the street so, ultimate deterrent, your neighbours might start asking if you can clean theirs too. Additionally, if your child wants a toy that isn’t in the section of their gender (like my friend who’s been basically wanking over Lightning Mcqueen since 2006) then let them have it. Breaking gender roles is beautiful.
Saying Things Like ‘Ugh You’re Such A Boy!’ everytime they throw a stick across the garden when, I hate to point this out to your Debra but, that’s just what children do. Or how about ‘Don’t Be Such A Girl!’ whenever your son cries, despite the fact that when your daughter cries you act as if the new season of OITNB has just been removed from Netflix before you’ve had time to watch it. Let kids be kids without psychoanalysing everything they do based on their gender pls.