Tuesday, October 1, 2013

I wear "The Pants," but everyone in my family wears pants (sometimes).

you know what really chaps my hide? stuff like this:

when i was pregnant with jack, at 12 weeks, we made the ultrasound tech take a guess as to the sex. she said girl. so we told everyone it was a girl. several people said, "oh, that's okay, i'm sure your next one will be a boy." i was like, um, i'm sorry, what? are you telling me "better luck next time"? is this china? do i have to throw the first one away since it doesn't have a penis? wtf?! turns out he did, in fact, have a penis. PHEW. i guess 9 10 months (< special pregnancy math) of morning ALL DAY sickness wasn't a complete waste of time and energy since i successfully produced a male heir to the throne in my royal kingdom???

it's 2013 (i think, but i could be wrong) and people say stuff like this, too:

"oh, you have two girls? is your husband sad? are you going to try for a third? who will he play catch with if you don't have a boy?" nothing incites my fury like the insinuation that a) you somehow failed at baby making if you didn't produce a boy, and b) that daddies can only play catch with their wiener-wielding man childs. GUESS WHAT?! MOTHERS can play catch with their SONS and FATHERS can play catch with their DAUGHTERS and... unfortunately, my math skills have languished since lawyerhood, so i don't know the exact permutations, but basically, IF YOU HAVE HANDS, YOU CAN PLAY CATCH.

"oh, you have two boys? are you so sad? are you going to try for a third? who will go shopping and get mani-pedis with mommy if you only have boys?" i hate shopping and my son loves having his toenails painted. so suck it.

"girls don't like football." this one does.

"boys don't like pink." not a true statement.

"you throw like a girl."

"stop crying like a girl."

oh, and when my daughter was born and they put her on my chest, i whispered to her, "hey buddy." the nurse, whose name was Chit, by the way, said, "Hey, you can't call her buddy. She's a girl." um, okay, a) i just pushed this baby out my lady bits so i can call her whatever i damn well please. i could call her Ernesto and you would need to shut your freakin' trap. and b) since when can't a girl be a buddy?!

what the eff, man? is this 1952? there are so many things wrong with the above statements, i don't even know where to start. first and perhaps foremost, using "like a girl" as a derogatory statement is just f*cked up. second, not all girls are crybabies dressed in pink, and some can throw a mean spiral. some boys DO like pink, get their hearts broken on a daily basis, and prefer drawing or collecting leaves or playing the ukulele to tackle football. third, having children is a total freaking crap shoot and you never know what you're going to get.

the other night, my daughter was body slamming my son and they were both laughing maniacally and making fart sounds each time they made impact with the floor. i looked over at my husband and i was like, "well, i guess i get to know what it's like to have two boys after all." (i had always thought, if i could choose, it would be fun to have two boys.) he replied, "not really. we still have one 'boy' (pointing to our rough-and-tumble girl) and one 'girl' (pointing to our delicate flower of a boy child)." i'm not gonna lie. i laughed quite heartily because per the prevailing cultural trappings, it's totally true. but then i felt bad because we are sexist jerks.

i understand that, generally speaking, there are a few essential differences between men and women, mostly physical. beyond that, i chalk most of it up to culture and socialization. the affectations of gender stereotypes are just that - acts - but they are so ingrained it's hard to even think about getting to a neutral place from which to analyze them. i mean, cavemen and cavewomen, or adam and eve, or whoever... they didn't care about pink vs. blue or shaving their legs or painting their nails or how best to showcase The Original Cleavage under leaves and mammoth pelts. (speaking of, eve must have been one of those lucky hairless women because, eef, me in just a fig leaf without access to a razor? avert your eyes.) anyway, the point is, they didn't have peewee football or barbies or superheros or princesses. these "preferences" and "tendencies" and hang-ups are things that we have created.

my personal experience has also belied the cultural norms, which i guess gives me a different perspective than many. my mom definitely "wore the pants" in two different marriages and was the master of the house, no two ways about it. she wasn't super girly. she didn't do much makeup and she sort of sucked at hair. she definitely rocked a mullet for a good little while there circa 1989-1992. she loved purses and heels but also went through a tennis shoe and fanny pack phase. she was a kick ass business woman, capitalizing on every opportunity and always working her way to the top. she was a whiz in the kitchen, a skill set she actually picked up primarily from her father. she also climbed mountains and drove fast cars. she never made me feel like there was anything i couldn't do because i was female. i remember for a while i dreamt of playing football at Notre Dame. like, i really thought this was my future, apparently still riding high on our resounding powder puff victory in 7th grade. she managed, for that year, or three, to encourage my dreams without rolling her eyes or laughing in my face. looking back, i realize how hard that must have been and it makes me love her even more.

in my own relationships, i have unintentionally sought, or been found by, thoughtful, sensitive, loving, romantic, moody, dramatic and/or intense men, so i know, even though many men try to hide it behind their tough/manly/sporty spice exterior, they can be just as emotional, irrational, and insane as we are, or are purported to be. it kind of reminds me of something my gay and lesbian couple friends complain about - the "So who's the 'man' and who's the 'woman' in the relationship?" question. why does someone have to be The Boss? why does there have to be a Stronger Sex? how are we defining/measuring strength and power here? and WHY are we measuring it? why can't we just BE. why does there have to be this dichotomy and why do we have to choose sides? what purpose does this serve?

look. i am FAR from innocent here. i gender the SH*T out of my kids, particularly their closets. my daughter's wardrobe consists of 93% pink glitter, and i put big flower headbands in her hair from the day she was born until the day she called the kibosh on that business. my son has a lot of blue and grey featuring emergency vehicles, sanitation vehicles, construction vehicles, and/or carnivorous prehistoric animals. i gender the sh*t out of myself too. half my wardrobe is pink or orange. i have had my toenails consistently painted for the past 20 years. i have spent thousands of dollars and hours on hair removal and other cosmetic ... ahem... augmentations. i am willing to spend obscene amounts of money on a good pair of jeans. i love dresses and high heels and things that are sparkly. my diamond IS my (second) best friend. seriously. i lurve her.

but that just underlines my point. i consider myself a fairly well-educated, progressive-minded person. i minored in Critical Gender Studies, for heaven's sake. and yet i still subconsciously - or even consciously - fall prey to this strict "pink OR blue" mentality and i just want to know why?!

maybe i'll never know the "why," but at least i can continue to be aware and to fight the inevitable gendered pigeon-holing that we as a society perpetuate (myself included, see reference to pink glitter, above).

here are some things i intend to teach my son AND my daughter:

how to throw a ball and a punch. (seriously. in case you can't tell. this is a pet peeve of mine. teach your daughter how to throw and hit. your son too. unless your children have no arms (in which case i am very sorry), teach them how to throw, and catch, a ball, and how to throw a right cross and a left hook punch someone in the neck. wait. f that. even if they don't have arms. teach 'em to use their feet. they'll be even more badass. also how to throw a well-placed knee to the groin.)
how to change a tire.
how to do their own laundry, including emptying the f*cking lint trap.
how to pee in the toilet, or at least clean up after yourself if you are physically unable to do so.
how to iron a shirt.
how to sit through a pedicure, even the terrible part where they're sawing the dead skin bark off your heels.
how to check a book out of the library.
how to pay your bills.
how to write a will. (PLEASE, i beg you. if you have children, write a will.)
how to bake a cake, some basic edible meals, and a couple of potluck pleasers.
how to keep house in a manner that will not instantly put off potential friends, suitors, or mothers-in-law.
how to alleviate discomfort from mosquito bites, bee stings, and the flu.
how to start a fire.
how to jump a car.
the etiquette of "the courtesy wave"!
how to write a thank you card.
how to say sorry.
how to shake hands (no limp fish, ew!)
how to look someone in the eye.
how to set 'smile' as your default setting.
how to be kind.
how to love.
how to say "Yes."
how to say "No."
how to tell the truth.
when to tell a white lie.
how to help others, and yourself.

i guess this list could go on forever, but mainly, i just want to teach my kids how to survive in this crazy world. i want them to be good, honest, loving, and kindthese traits are gender neutral. i think the most important lessons in life apply regardless of what shape your bits and pieces take.

** If you like this post, you'll love my essay in I Still Just Want To Pee Alone! **
Click HERE to buy!

source:  mae martin - http://imgur.com/gallery/jkNljuC

love ellen. 


  1. This just made me laugh, and therefor, I did not kill my husband for getting the baby up to feed him in the middle of the night during our second night of "cry it out" sleep training.

  2. Yes! This blog has prevented homicide. My mission is complete ;)