Kate's Blog

Follow me if you will as I try to navigate through the ups and downs of my world.

I'm writing this blog to help me make sense of all that has happened - from my diagnosis with non-Hodgkins lymphoma while pregnant with my third child in May 2008
, through to my reflections on chaotic family life as I try to pick up the pieces of my life again.

The kids are so small, and I'm working hard to keep us all safe and to stay in remission.

Stay with me - it won't be all doom and gloom I promise!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

My Latest Rant!! Distraction if Nothing Else

‘It’s Pirates or Princesses, Mummy’, my four year old daughter informs me importantly as she hands me a letter from the school explaining that the children can dress up for ‘Children in Need Day’.

My six year old son Ed hands me the same letter, ‘I’m going to be a pirate – I need a sword!’

I ask Martha if she wants to be a pirate too. Ed looks at me as if I’m crazy. ‘She’s got to be a princess. It says on the letter.’ I explain that it doesn’t say that on the letter, it says that they can choose what they want to be and that Martha might choose to be a pirate.

‘I want to be a pirate!’ Martha announces and I privately exult until she comes back the day before the big day. ‘None of the other girls are being pirates, I want to be a princess!’

And princess she is, down to the hastily acquired tiara and pinkest dress she can find in her drawer.

Bloody school, bloody Geordies who love their pink, princess girls, bloody crazy country. Why should a school which seems sensible in all other ways, which has just received an ‘outstanding’ in its last Ofsted Inspection and which appears to think deeply about equality of opportunity for all, assume that the most exciting thing a girl can dress up as is a bloody princess.

This pink, glittery, princess thing is so imbued in our culture. My contention – being a Southerner at heart - is that it is especially alive and kicking up here in the North-East. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this disease at the heart of our society is endemic everywhere. I don’t believe that anyone at the school even considered the message they constantly send girls and boys about what their gender might signify both now and in the future. And parents collude from the earliest they can – princess duvets, fairy wallpaper, pink, pink, pink. What the hell is a princess these days? How can you become one? Who would want to become one? Do we want our daughters to lisp prettily as they shake out their pink skirts. Is this what we want to teach our girls about what it means to be female? We may as well encourage our daughters to dress up as supermodels – that’s a noble, attainable and interesting career. Or a celebrity – how about that? Is this the ultimate fantasy of femininity? If you are reading this as a woman, do you recognise this as a useful and workable definition of your life and self?

It’s a scary thing being a mother of daughters these days. I want my daughters to grow up strong: proud of their gender, proud of their femininity and with a powerful self esteem. I want them to be able to believe that they can achieve the same that their brother can. I don’t want them obsessed with their bodies and their pretty faces, beautiful as they are. I want them to work hard and set themselves ambitions which they can strive for and maybe achieve. You think I’m missing the point and it’s all just a bit of fun? Well, that’s up to you. I don’t believe that it’s healthy or funny for my daughters to want to be a bloody princess or for my son to expect them to be, and I’m constantly amazed that sensible, seemingly intelligent women continue to collude with this rubbish.


Anita said...

Unfortunately, we're still in a world where the physical beauty of a women is highly valued. Even if we try to teach your daughters differently, the media and other brainwashed people will still send daily messages to them that puts much emphasis on their bodies and hair.
Like you, I want my daughters to appreciate their feminity too, but I want them to know that it comes in many different packages, including a pirate's outfit.

Anita said...

Oops, I meant "our daughters" :)

diney said...

My daughter went through the pink bit too, then she became a tom boy who despised dresses for about 10 months, which was almost as bad to be honest!! Now she likes dresses again, but definitely not pink, so they do grow out of it. I think it's a pink right of passage when they younger, and it is definitely not just a Geordie thing!!! (no tights and micro mini on a Baltic night down the Bigg market, now that's a Georgie girl!!)x Bet you feel better for your rant, though!!

Anonymous said...

I think daughters must be so much more fraught than sons, from a parent's perspective.

Does Lenny Henry still get his bi-annual wheel-out at Children In Need? I'd pay money to prevent that AND princess days!

Sorry it's been a while since I was last here. Summer's approaching and I've not been online as much as I am when it's cooler!

Jen said...

I always taught my daughter that the only thing she can't do is pee standing up. She got over the princess faze when she turned 7.

ButterPie said...

We have this battle with our daughter, and she is only two. Disney Princess is banned from our house, but the whole princess thing has still somehow got to her. It doesn't help that people keep buying her pink tat.