"Let us not be ashamed to speak what we shame not to think."
-Michel de Montaigne

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

OF: Raising Girls

A few weeks ago, in the advent of my daughter's fifth birthday, I wandered the aisles of Target trying to decide which pink plastic trinket or other to buy her when hit me like a Mack truck of college-educated, post-women's-lib, feminist guilt: should I be buying my daughter this crap?

By "crap" I mean dolls. Specifically, the princess-y type. Specifically, Disney princess-y stuff that represents, in part, the archetypal garbage I chaff against: doe-eyed, pure-hearted beauties with dead mothers and evil step-hags. Princesses which must be rescued, or married, or made wretched/humiliated/subservient to the cruel world before they can have any scrap of deserved happiness.

Somewhere a Disney marketer is saying MWUHAHAHA.
I felt sick thinking about all the stuff she already had. Things I had either purchased myself or passively allowed others to buy for her. Princess bedspreads. Princess pajamas. Princess movies. Princess books. Princess dolls. Princess puzzles. Princess panties. Princess sippy-cups. It's a pink nightmare I tell you. Where was that parent I swore I would be when Ava was in utero?

I worry about how invested my daughter is in the whole princess thing--and also weddings. Already! At age 5! She came home from school the other day and proclaimed, "Mommy, I've already chosen my husband. I married Casey at school today." Oh dear Lord. OH LORD. I responded by saying jokingly, "We discussed that you can't get married until 40, remember?" The next day, on the way to school, she mentioned something about one day leaving her family to be married and how that would change her life forever and ever. And if she chooses that, it will absolutely change her life...I just...I just don't want her to fall into the idea (consciously or more pervasively--unconsciously adhering to the idea) that being married is the end-all, be-all of a woman's life/identity/existence. I know what a fatal trap that line of thinking is; I often feel completely torn between my sometimes twee ideals of romance and love versus reality/the landscape of human relationships.

I don't have any answers. I have worry. I have (at times) poor execution of my ideals. I want to be a thoughtful, wise, and intentional parent.

I try to make it a point to talk to her about other things that are equally valuable in life: graduating from college, being independent, caring for herself and others, living a life that honors who she is and what she wants. It's not the obsession with pink or princesses that bothers me, it's the long-term baggage that is sometimes attached with the idolatry of that way of being as a woman.

God, I hope this is a phase.

God, I hope I'm doing right by her.

God, I hope Ava is one pink-tiara-wearing, ass-kicking feminist and wife (if she chooses) one day.

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