Just Like A Woman: Celebrating Gender

I am slightly flummoxed as to where my daughter found her femininity.

In the battle of nature versus nurture her natural girlishness is already starting to dominate.

She has certainly not been raised Gender Neutral, but we have made an effort not to expose her to gender bias.

I don’t feel I can be held responsible for her love of frills and flowers.

She witnesses me slap on some dried-out mascara and tie my hair back out of my face in a hurry most mornings. Her fascination with prinking and preening surely can’t come from watching my grooming regime. She is in awe of manicured nails. I never have them.

I see her gazing enviously at girls with long hair, twisted and plaited and held in place with sparkling bows. She stares in wonder and admiration at glittering shoes and swishing tulle skirts.

As I spent the first year of her life dressed in leggings and striped nursing T-shirts, I can’t help wondering where she got the idea that dressing glamorously is something to aspire to.

Her wardrobe is not devoid of pastels and florals. But I am averse to cotton candy cuteness and so her clothes are predominantly blue and red, green, navy and mustard, and pinks have to pack a punch to pass Mummy’s veto… while I still have one.

Child in buggy wearing adult sunglasses
A unique sense of style (Nursery Whines)

Dressing her too daintily would be unwise anyway. She is adventurous and her clothes need to be practical.

She likes to run around in the mud and jump in puddles. She has no qualms about plunging her hands into dirt and splashing black and brown paint all over herself.

Climbing and riding tricycles are also popular pastimes. And she’s not one to hang back shyly and wait her turn. She will push and shove to get where she wants to go.
Among her thuggish tendencies, I have noticed a maternal instinct in her.

We have no dolls in the house. And yet when we go out to play she has become drawn to them. She feeds them, dresses them and tucks them up in blankets.

One of her favourite games is to lay her beloved bunny in the pushchair, tuck him in and ‘Shhhhhhh’, him to sleep. Now for this particular behaviour pattern I can definitely claim to be her role model.

Kitchens also hold a magic spell over her. She plays at cooking and takes pride in serving up her creations. But she is also just as interested in twiddling knobs and banging doors.

She is perplexed by the toy iron in Home Corner. Thanks to me, she has no idea what it might be for.

What she really, really adores is hair. She likes to play with other peoples, try to plait it and twist it or comb it. She is always brushing her own hair and checking how she looks in the mirror.

This vanity does not have to be pigeon-holed by gender, I know. But as someone who considers themselves pretty low maintenance, I am just interested in where it came from.

Child on a swing
The sky’s the limit (Nursery Whines)

My daughter plays with cars and balls and hammers and bricks. She loves to ‘read’ magazines and newspapers. She enjoys playing with computer keyboards. And she is always drawing and colouring.

If she grows up to be a world leader who wants to wear bejewelled slippers and tutus, then so be it. If she becomes a small-town librarian (please let there still be libraries for her to help save) and wears puss ybow blouses and elegant chignons, that’s her choice.

At a friend’s house this week my daughter donned a pair of fairy wings before playing with a ball. And at that moment it became clear to me.

She is not doing any of these things because she is conforming to gender stereotype, she is doing them because she wants to, and she has the freedom to do so.
And that is all that matters.

This International Women’s Day post is late because I am a woman and I multitask.

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