Today, during a soccer game, a kid on the opposing team made fun of my four year old daughter’s ‘boy’ shoes. I am so sick of this shit I could scream. It is crazy to me that people actually say, actually believe it’s “natural” for girls “want” pink stuff. My God, I’m honestly surprised my daughter has stuck with her Star Wars shoes for this long. As I’ve blogged, she isn’t even a big Star Wars fan, fighting for her passion with these shoes. She just bought a pair of shoes. I really feel like she could go either way, or one of many ways, pink and sparkly or action hero or something else, but everything out there is telling her which limited “choice” to make.
So after my daughter leaves the field, crying, which, by the way, I was totally bummed about. We’d rehearsed other responses, “I like my shoes” “There is no such thing as boy shoes,” so many times, but still, of course, I comforted her. I said I would talk to the girl. Her father, a nice guy, happened to be sitting right next to me. First, he called another kid over, asking her if she’d made fun of my daughter’s shoes. Both that kid and my daughter denied she was the one. Then the guy calls over his daughter who admits it was her, and my daughter seconds that. “I’m so sorry,” he said to me, after making his kid apologize. “I don’t know where she gets it.” I told him preschool, probably. And then he looks at his daughter and tells her: “Star Wars is cool. Star Wars has Princess Leia and she’s beautiful!”
Is that a bummer of a response or what? Here is a dad trying but totally missing the point. So I said, “And Leia is smart and brave and powerful, too.”
“Yeah,” says the dad.
How many times, do you think, in one day– from people telling them how pretty their dresses are or their hair or their shoes, to TV shows and books and movies and toys— little girls are shown that what they look like is the most important thing of all? What do you think they are learning to value most, their actions or their appearance? Where do you think they are learning to focus their efforts, concerns, and ambitions?
Here’s the video of my daughter talking about being bullied for ‘boy shoes made a couple months ago. Please share your stories so parents start to understand the epidemic that gender bullying has become, in preschool and beyond.