Slate.com just published a great article, written by a high-school junior, about her campaign to de-gender McDonald’s toys. I’m impressed by the article, and the initiative of the girl who wrote it. I wish I had been that committed to change at her age. Heck, I wish I were that committed NOW.
I’m hopeful that the promise she’s been given by McDonald’s chief diversity officer, Patricia Harris, will bear fruit and that they actually are changing their policy. I’m appreciative that though this letter was written in December and it is now late April, that McDonald’s is a very large organization, and that it takes time for such dictates to make their way through to individual franchises.
But I’m not going to get excited until I see it actually happen in my neck of the woods.
My daughter K is mildly obsessed with superheroes. And while I take full responsibility for having planted the initial seed (and watering it daily with encouragement and the occasional new superhero-themed book or shirt), she’s taken the idea and just run with it.
“K, what do you want to wear today?”
“A superhero shirt, superhero underwear and pants that tie…if we have them, please.”
When we first introduced K to superheroes – your typical Batman, Superman-type fodder – she expressed an interest in them, but it didn’t become a daily undercurrent. And in fact, her enthusiasm was dampened for a bit last fall when a classmate told her that his daddy said, “Girls can’t be superheroes.”
Interludes from K this week:
1) K sees someone on the street and says, “I think that person is a witch” (woman is wearing all black with a black hoodie that’s up, kind of like the point of a hat).
We pass the woman, K glances back and says, “no she’s not a witch.” I say “what does a witch look like?”
This post is nearly a week late, but I couldn’t finish the week without acknowledging my munchkin’s third birthday.
On Monday, whenever someone asked K about the crown she was wearing or what was special about the day, she would explain, “It’s Happy Birthday to Me!!” When one of her teachers said to her, “Oh it’s your birthday? Could it be my birthday too?” K replied: “Well, it could be your birthday, but it’s not because it’s my birthday, but it would make you sad if I told you it wasn’t your birthday, so we can pretend it’s your birthday if you want even though it’s actually my birthday.” The teacher said she’s never been told “no” quite so politely in her life.
But this is K. She’s smart and articulate, crazy and hilarious. Her thought process is fascinating to watch and her individual sense of self and style is something I hope devoutly that she keeps in the face of peer pressure as the years go on.
There are some moments where you can see a flash of the person you hope your child is becoming. It’s hard to know during those moments how much of it is brainwashing (admittedly by me), desire to please you, their own personality or good upbringing (:-)). But they sure do make you feel good inside.
K’s teachers are constantly telling me that she speaks her mind (loudly). One of her teachers calls her “fresh.” Which is probably more accurate than my preferred word of “sassy” since it communicates her tendency to defy authority from time to time.
At any rate – judge for yourself yesterday’s scenario:
Why does this exist?
Most of you know my rather strong feelings about gender stereotypes and expectations. I don’t have a problem with girls being exposed to “girly” things, but I do have a problem because it seems that everything a girl is exposed to is “girly.” Why are there entire aisles awash in pink? Why must everything be Barbie-this or Princess-that? And why do I always have to go to the boys’ section to find red, grey or black gloves or shoes that are neither pink nor have hearts or princesses all over them?