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Like a Girl, revisited

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I got really upset the other day at church.  A good friend of mine just gave birth to her tenth child.  This friend and her husband never find out the gender via ultrasound prior to the birth, and since the couple already had seven girls and two boys, there was much anticipation among those who knew them regarding this child’s gender.

And it was… a GIRL!

Did you read that last sentence with disappointment?  Because when a group of people at my church asked me if my friend had had the baby yet and I said yes and announced that it was a girl, almost all of them said, “Aww” — and not “aww, that’s sweet,” but “aww shucks, that’s too bad.”  Almost every person in that group, men and women alike, had disappointment on their faces.

Yes, I understand that the family is estrogen-heavy.  Yes, I think it would have been great for a little boy to have been born into that family.  But I also think it’s pretty fantastic for a little girl to come into the world as well.

A friend of mine posted a link to this article on Facebook today: How to Talk to Little Girls by Lisa Bloom.  If you have time, please read it.  If you don’t have time right now, please come back to it when you do.  The general idea, though, is that our culture tends to value females more for their appearances than for their minds.

As I posted last year, I’ve been joining the revolution of valuing girls by refusing to make comments like “you throw like / act like / cry like a girl” because it seems to imply that being a girl is not as good as being a boy.  But these comments, and the valuing of girls for their looks over their personhood, are so ingrained into our American culture that it is HARD to break away.

And, while it might not be as blatant as it is in some countries like China and India, there seems to be a feeling in America that boys are better than girls.  I bet very few people would admit to thinking that way, but our conversations show it.  “You’re such a girl,” is never a compliment.

Females are not here just to look pretty but be pitied because they aren’t smart or can’t play sports or get emotional or talk too much.  Women add value to our society.  Yes, women tend to be more cautious than men, more emotional than men, more language-based than men.  That isn’t a bad thing.  If there were no need for women aside from procreation, I think God would have made reproduction possible without women.  Women add balance to the force, if I may steal a notion from Star Wars.  We soften our husbands’ rough edges.  We remind men of the emotional factors in a situation rather than just the logical side they often see best.  We add heart to houses and turn them into homes.  We bring compassion to the workplace or the community.

I hope I never express disappointment when a baby girl is born.  I hope I never again utter the words “like a girl” as an insult.  I hope I never value a girl’s pretty face over her brilliant mind or charming personality.

I hope you will join me in this little revolution.


About Karen Koch

I like the old-fashioned lifestyle. All this new-fangled stuff baffles me sometimes. I cherish living out in the country, raising chickens and rabbits, planting fruit trees, and enjoying a slow life filled with beautiful words and ideas. I don't always achieve a slow life. I teach middle school English and manage a little burgeoning farm with my husband, and somewhere in the midst of that, I try to find time for writing, running, knitting, reading, and playing the ukulele. And sometimes, I actually succeed.

2 responses »

  1. Good stuff. Thanks for this!

  2. more on the “scientific” side – Mythbusters did an episode on “you throw like a girl” and when your remove the bias of boys being taught to throw and girls typically not (by making both genders throw with their left hands) boys and girls have the same basic technique. So boys throw like girls and girls throw like girls. it should be just the dads and sons going out to toss the ball – girls can throw the same if taught. It was also interesting to see that boys throw faster but girls throw more accurately with their dominate arms. A little science to add 🙂


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