What I wish for my daughter

Little Girl Superhero
I’ve been totally absorbed in the “Everyday Sexism” project since it first began. It is a brilliant idea, addressing a very real and important issue; allowing the stories of women to be heard; showing everyone – male and female – that sexism occurs every day, everywhere.

And it’s no laughing matter.

I feel like, as a thirty-something, fairly ordinary-looking woman, outside of the workforce, I don’t bear the brunt of sexism as much as some others may. I’m kind of invisible, and I don’t actually mind that.

I make my voice heard when I need to.

But I do carry around with me, all day, every day, a small girl child. A small girl child who might love her fairy wings and tutus, but who is only just getting to grips with gender difference and what it means to be a girl child.

And sexism definitely is there, every day, for her.

At a recent festival, she’d decided she wanted a big, red balloon sword. She was offered a small, pink one.

At a cafe, she wanted a blue cupcake. The worker laughed and said, “No, you’ll have pink, won’t you?”

A lady at the bus stop said, “Won’t it be wonderful when her hair grows, so she looks like a girl?”

A lady in a shopping centre, when she was climbing on the couches, tutted and said, “Got yourself a real livewire, there, haven’t you? You’ll need to stamp that out pretty quickly.”

And so it goes on. Every. Day. I’m sure mothers of boys get it, too, but I can only see it from our perspective. Her perspective.

And yes, I buy her tutus. And yes, I buy her fairy wings. But we have dinosaur boots, too, and she plays with trucks and footballs and she loves construction sites. My girl is a complex little human being, whose ideas about herself should not be dictated by her reproductive organs. And I’m worried for her.

Everyday Sexism is doing an amazing job of calling out sexism in grown women. But what about our small girls?

I’d love to hear your stories. I’d love to hear how you reacted. And I’d love to hear your hopes for your own little ones.

Think of it as a kind of “Everyday Sexism” junior edition. Because the way it is isn’t the way it has to be.

One thought on “What I wish for my daughter

  1. I have a 13 (almost 14) year old daughter and two sons (almost 11 and almost 16). It has been very interesting to observe the different expectations and reactions the kids get. My MIL is still coming to terms with the fact that pink is not my daughter’s favourite colour. My older son attends an academically selective high school and I lost count of how many people asked me if my younger son would go to, completing bypassing whether my daughter would apply (she did, and was successful).

    I know there are bigger feminist issues to fight against on the world stage, but I really think we underestimate the impact of our casual, almost flippant sexist comments and word choices. I have been reading quite a lot recently about under-representation of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) occupations and the need to expose girls to these subjects and career options at a young age, because by high school they have often taken on the perspective that STEM careers are for smart boys. 😦

    Take heart that your influence – your attitude, your own behaviour and interests, and the information and opportunities you make available for your daughter – will balance out most of the societal limitations. My daughter is developing into an awesomely confident young woman who is happy to be arty and interested in fashion, but equally comfortable wearing a batman shirt with matching cape out to the local shopping centre (much to her older brother’s horror).

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