The other day I was sitting with my daughter Alex, watching High School Musical 3 which just came out on DVD. Troy Bolton once again finds himself wondering what he really wants to do when he graduates from high school. Will be in the theater, or will he play basketball?
In the middle of all of this Alex turned to me and said:
"I am so glad I am a girl because girls can do so much more than boys can."
The comment caught me off guard. When I was her age I really wanted to be a boy. Like Jo March in little women I saw that boys always got to do more, be more than girls did. In stories, boys were always the heroes and girls were always the whinny ones who followed them around telling them how dangerous everything was or how much trouble they were going to be in. Boys could do whatever they wanted when ever they wanted and they never had to worry about how they looked. I was proud that my daughter didn't see this stigma. She has the confidence that girls are better than boys. Its not just a slogan.
So I replied to her statement with: "Of course, you are right. Girls can be anything they want."
"Yes," she agreed. "Boys can only be things like policemen or sport stars or pirates, but girls can be those things and be princesses and fairies. Girls can be super heroes but boys CAN NOT be fairies or mermaids."
And she is right. In the world of make believe a girl can be whatever she wants, but boys still have to stick to their masculine gender roles. Yes, there are merman's in the world, but it would take a very secure father to let his son dress up as a merman for Halloween. I kind of fell sorry for boys now. They miss out on at least half of the fun.
This same thing came up not to long ago when I was talking with friends about Disney World. There are more dress up/make believe things geared towards girls than there are boys. And the sad thing is, there is a reason for that. By the time a boy is 8 or 9 they are "too manly" for that kind of thing. Good luck getting a 10 year old boy to want to dress up as Peter Pan, but try telling a 60 year old women she can't have her make-up done at the Bibity Bopity Boo Boutique.