You know what? I hated that anti pink aisle don’t put your girls in a girl box “girls” commercial — but let me tell you why…
When people ask me about my childhood, where I fit in on the family tree among siblings, I almost always say–much to the chagrin of my father and my husband who do not find it as funny or ironic as I do–“I was my father’s firstborn son.” The fact that I am female with absolutely no Chaz Bono tendencies is what makes this statement funny to me.
My dad was known in the city I grew up as “the Coach.” Maybe other people’s dad’s were known that way too, but I didn’t have many other coaches and certainly none who coached their own kids on the team. My dad loved baseball. Being LDS, he claimed there were two temples in LA: The Los Angeles Temple and Dodger Stadium. I have to say I grew up a little more fond of the later than the former. There is nothing in Houston like the Freeway Series (Angels Vs Dodgers), and locally the Astros are known as the DisAstros. Houston never had Tommy Lasorda, Rick Monday or Steve Garvey, and it’s clear they still suffer from the lack of enduring figures.
Baseball was just the most important sport in my families life growing up. My dad was always involved in Little League and so was my mom. My dad was “the Coach” and my mom ran the snack bar. That made us a sort of local baseball royalty in a way. My dad even called me “Princess.” Our royal cuisine made us privy to leftover hotdogs, burritos, cotton candy and even nachos on a regular basis. I knew how to make snow cones and collect foul ball tickets like nobodies business.
Being a baseball princess didn’t save me from playing baseball, though I had wanted to play other sports at various times: gymnastics, tennis and even roller derby. I didn’t really want to be a tomboy, but I was–a real tomboy: one that played baseball and actually matched skills with most of the boys on the field. I loved frilly pink things, unicorns and romantic comedies.
My tomboy ambitions were never to play for the Dodgers, not really. My ambition was as untomboyish as you can get. I wanted to be a mom. Not a mom like my mom, managing the snack bar every night, working during the day, making everyone eat health foods, preventing us from eating sugar cereal (the horror!) and leading Jazzercise–I wanted to be a mom like all the chubby happy women I saw at church every Sunday. I wanted to be a mom like my young women’s counselors, the women who made cookies and knew how to make crafts before Martha Stewart ever dreamed of cashing in on it.
To me, the soft, round women at church were what I wanted to be. They were the Venus De Milo: Beautiful, fantastic and ideal. My mom was a Frida Kahlo. Practical, hard and far too realistic.
It’s not as funny or ironic anymore to say I was my father’s firstborn son. People now wonder if I had a sex change or if my parents were progressives that tried to steer me away from the dreaded ‘pink aisle’ and sexist stereotypes. People think I’m making some sort of statement about equality of the sexes. When I say I was a tomboy, it isn’t because I think there was some sort of eternal principal in playing like a boy. I learned in playing with the boys that there is value in being a girl. I learned that when boys said they were intimidated by me, it was not a tool that helped me get to the goals I wanted to accomplish.
The value that is currently being lost as we shove our girls into yet another box we think is so much more progressive, modern and valuable labeled: TOMBOY, is a classic truth. It’s not something you can quote or quantify because it doesn’t make sense to modern ears: It’s okay to be a girl that likes barbies, unicorns and gentlemen that hold the door open for you. This isn’t to say that being a tomboy is wrong, or even to be discouraged if that is the way the girl wants to go. It is saying that it’s wrong to try and drag her away from the ‘pink aisle’ if that is where she wants to be.
Don’t let the media and the educated elite convince you that girls are just like boys. They aren’t. And why would you want them to be?
When I say I am a surveyors daughter, they think I somehow advocate trying to install more women in engineering. They can’t imagine I don’t even remotely want to be one.
People can’t imagine that growing up feeling like a firstborn son in a daughters body made me see there is value in a separation of sex roles. They can’t imagine that it made me actually appreciate the stereotypes and wish that we could just let girls be girls and boys be boys without trying to engineer what has already been very well engineered. They can’t imagine I’m the type of feminist who has no problem with men and women having their own special places. They can’t imagine growing up like a boy made me want my daughter to grow up like a girl.