As an eight year old I coveted a cowboy costume at the local toy store. It was complete with fringed mock suede vest, chaps, gun and holster, hat and sheriff badge.
My Mum asked my brother and I what we wanted for Christmas and I put my order in for the cowboy outfit. I could see her confused expression quickly turn to panic. Though I didn’t understand then it’s now clear to me that my Mum thought the offending suit was not appropriate for little girls and I shouldn’t want . . . ahem . . . ‘boys’ things’. A Small town in the early 80s wasn’t the best place for cultivating little girl’s imaginations or role-playing outside the norm. Playing mummy, housewife, or even teacher or nurse were ok. Playing sheriff was not.
Last night Master 3 had wrapped a body pillow around himself proudly calling it a Santa sack full of presents. He went up to a female visitor and I overheard him telling her that he had a garbage truck as a present for her. She said that girls don’t drive garbage trucks and didn’t he have a dolly?
I nearly broke my neck in my hurry to get to the scene. I quickly explained that girls could do anything and in fact his Mama, this Mama, loved garbage trucks and could drive one. I went on to emphasise that there are no girls or boys toys – just toys.
How can I raise my boys to expect that women can do whatever they put their minds to when still some women can take us back so far? How can I tell them that women are as important as men when society often only pretends it’s always so? How can I do this when everywhere, including in my own home women unintentionally undermine women’s role in society? I will raise passionate, independent and responsible men who value independent and free-spirited women. I will raise men who support women yet have no interest in controlling them. They will know and appreciate what a strong woman is as best as I can teach them.
Girls can’t drive garbage trucks eh? Well no-one told me.