An Open Letter to Mothers of Girls

Would you give me a lift to the glass ceiling, please?
Would you give me a lift to the glass ceiling, please?

Dear Moms of Girls,

I always figured I would have daughters. I won’t go so far as to say I envisioned myself holding bundles of pink and sparkle, but in the back of my head I looked forward to raising kick-ass girls who would rock and roll; girls who would build on the momentum of a righteously feminist mother and hopefully one day, leave me sputtering in the dust.

Then I went and had boys. And I’m here to tell you I am THAT mom of boys.

You know the one I mean, right? (Don’t lie. I can see you rolling your eyes from my couch.)

I’m the boring mother who insists that if they’re talking about a female over the age of eighteen, they use the word woman, the one that jumps on any chance to point out how we use words differently when we talk about boys and girls–and yeah, I stretch it a bit far sometimes to make a point. Usually it snaps back and hits me in the ass, but there you go.

I’m the one who lectures them until I’m sick of the sound of my own voice about listening when people say “I don’t like that” or “Stop touching me.” Even though my youngest is only 8 and has no interest in girls. Or boys. Or animals for that matter. But over and over. Look at me when I’m talking to you, this is important. When someone says not to touch them, you must.stop.touching.them.right.away.

I’m that boring-ass mother who’s constantly bringing up the achievements of girls and women. The one who’s teaching my sons to hold the door open for everyone, not just girls because it’s not about being a gentlemen, it’s about not being an asshole.

I’m the one who’s constantly harping on about how even though boys and girls are different, men and women are different, one is not better than another. The one always reminding them you can’t tell if someone is a boy or a girl by the length of their hair or the color of their shirt, what they like or don’t like, what they do or don’t do.

I’m the over-the-top mom, the one continuously pointing out stereotypes.

Great, thanks. Now let's talk about wage equality
Great, thanks. Now let’s talk about wage equality

I’m the one who doesn’t let my kids play video games that objectify women. The one who made sure they knows what a period is, what tampons are for, where babies come from, what boobs are for. The one who taught them the word vagina. The one who, when they’re ready, will be explaining that yes, women like sex because it feels good.

I’m the over-zealous mom who sat down with her 2nd grade son when he started going to school dances about how to respect girls, and what to do if a girl asked him to dance and he didn’t want to. That is wasn’t ok to laugh or make fun or disrespect, even if he wasn’t interested. Or in his case, terrified at the thought.

I’m the one who has told them if I ever find out they’re making fun of a way a girl looks I’ll take them down. If I ever find out they’re demeaning a girl, I’ll take them down. If I find out they’re using sexually charged insults I’ll be over them like white on rice. I’m the one that sounds like a whining drill that when I keep saying things like “cry like a girl” it is insulting, unfair and untrue.

I’m that annoying mom who doesn’t excuse aggression just because my kids are boys.

I’m the slight nut-case who has endless dinner table conversations about how women are under represented, how history only tells the story from one point, the one who quizzes them on  history facts about women and voting rights. (Yes. I really am that mom)

I’m the one that will sit their asses down and give them talk after talk about sex and consent and how if they are ever unsure, the answer is no.

I’m the one who is boring them to tears with conversations about the roles women have played in history.

I’m the one who is passionately ranting about how to make things equal. How it is important to value people for who they are and not assume they’re better just because they are a boy or a girl.

I’m the one who’s not worried so much about raising my sons to be gentlemen. Your daughters don’t need gentlemen. They deserve boys and men who view them as equals.

Math, science, computers. You?
Math, science, computers. You?

I’m the pain in the ass, you-are-sick-of-hearing mom who is continually pointing out that not only can girls do anything boys can do, but boys can do anything girls can do–well, except for the birth thing.

Yes, I’m THAT mom.

I’m a pain in the ass. I go on and on. I am a record stuck in a groove. I’m THAT mom.

The one who is raising boys to view your daughters as equals, as partners, as people.  The one who’s doing her damnedest to raise men who don’t worry as much about holding open doors as they do about making the world a more equal–and thereby better–place for us all.

I’m willing to take the fall, be the patsy, ignore the rolling eyes and huffing sighs…if it works.

I’m THAT mom.


29 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Mothers of Girls

Add yours

  1. There is a reason Greater Nature Force granted you with boys and you have already found out that reason. 🙂 Congratulations.


    1. Lol, I know, right? Sometimes I wonder how I would have coped if I did have girls…who conformed to a more, shall we say stereotyped-version of femininity. I like to think I would rise to the occasion, but…probably better than the universe gave me boys in the long run 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this! It is good to know that there are others who believe that feminism and courtesy still need to be championed! PS It shines through in the boys, too.


    1. I’m grateful to know that it comes through in the boys (phew–what a fraud I’d be otherwise….). It took me a long time–too long, I think–to realize that the most feminist act I could undertake is to raise boys to look at girls and women as equals. I’m not perfect, they’re not perfect. But by God, I will hammer home Rosa Parks and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Katie Ledecky until the cows come home ;-).


  3. I relate to every word of this. With boys as well, I am also that mom so it’s nice to know I’m not alone. Here in the deep southern US, I often feel like the lone wolf-ette having these conversations with my boys. (And their friends who we have overly regularly.) Keep it up and I’ll do the same. Great post.


    1. You are most definitely not alone. Sometimes I feel like a broken record. Sometimes I feel like I am being silly. But this is important. This–in the home–is where it begins. We are the molders and shapers of the future. Screw banking and pharma and CEOs of Fortune 500 Companies. The real power? It’s us.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope so too. I have this whole spiel about raising human beings (well, that’s a nicer way of putting it. Mostly I say raising people who aren’t assholes) as a goal. Unfortunately I have a horrible feeling that we’re going to have to go through some nastiness before we get there–death rattle stuff, last stand Alamo style. But eventually it will happen (she says with her fingers crossed).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You go on being “that mom” and sharing that message with as many as will listen and become “that mom” too. I plan to send your blog to my two sons in college just in case I forgot to mention any of these items. Great job.


  5. LOVE this! I was raised by parents who believed in equality of men and women. (W-A-Y ahead of their time) (and my dad was born in 1909) I was always told I could do whatever I wanted to do. My parents told me I should be independent- not rely on anyone else to make me whole…Be the best that I could be. I so enjoy what you write.


    1. Thank you, Linda! I have this conversation A LOT. Why did I turn out this way? How come I have the views I do. And you’re right–it all comes down to parents letting you discover and formulate your own opinions. To me, equality is a no-brainer. It seems unfathomable to me that it’s even a thing, that there are so many people who are viewed as ‘lesser’. But you know, I’m pretty loud when I want to be ;-).


  6. “I’m the one who’s not worried so much about raising my sons to be gentlemen.”

    Well, we do need gentlemen. We need lots and lots of gentlemen. That’s what most of this stuff really boils down to, good manners, gentle men.


    1. In the truest sense of the word, yes. We need gentler men who are not trying, directly or indirectly, to kill us. And we need manners and courtesy and respect and common sense. But not at the price of equality. A gentleman always holds the door open for a lady is what I remember learning–why doesn’t a gentleman hold the door open for a man as well? I think if we all held more doors open for the folks coming after us the world would be a much gentler place by default–and by opening doors, I’m speaking both literally and figuratively!


  7. Thank you!! As the mom of two daughters, it’s comforting to know there are women like you raising great sons!


  8. I don’t know…I appreciate the sentiment behind this but…okay. So I have one of each and was just watching American Ninja Warrior (a very arduous obstacle course competition on TV here if you don’t know.) Anyway, obviously there are more men than women who compete not to mention complete the course, and there were 4 women in the last episode and they took the women and literally put them on these kind of pedestals and kept featuring them and I noticed they were all wearing kind of sexy pink and black gym clothing.
    Anyway, I turned to my son and said “Don’t you think that’s kind of sexist?”
    And he told me that he heard Morgan Freeman being asked about racism and how to stop it and Freeman said we should stop talking about it. We should stop making it so apparent that people are different. We should stop doing Black History Months and just making American History Months. So, that’s how I know that, unless I see my son being disrespectful to women, which, by the way I never have, he’s going to be okay.


    1. I guess I think that people are different–and that’s good and we should celebrate it-It’s natural for humans to notice differences and make judgments about those differences. Kids in particular will pick up on any difference, but more so that they can group themselves. For instance, they want to group themselves in small units of ‘sameness’ but that ‘sameness’ could be the color of their shoelaces or liking pizza–it doesn’t have to have the weight we as adults prescribe. The problem as I see it is that for a lot of people not talking about it works because it keeps things at the level we’re at, which is fine if you’re at the top of the food chain–not so much if you are somewhere below. With boys I worry a lot about what they pick up from the culture at large more so than at home. (Things have obviously changed in recent generations in terms of how much time fathers spend at home and being a role model, but historically from sociological standpoints, boys learn to be ‘men’ not necessarily from a father figure–who is not physically present enough for modeling purposes–but from male culture at large–take it for what you will, that was sociological thinking when I was studying it in the 90s 😉 ). It’s the culture at large that worries me–the one where the line between acceptable and rape seems to be blurred, and the deep-rooted sexism that is bubbling to the surface. It’s always been there, but it’s more noticeable this year b/c of the election. For me it’s always better to shine a light on it to get past it. Otherwise, I don’t have enough faith in humanity that it will go away on its own.


  9. As the mama of a girl, I thank you. I am also fighting that battle of consent: “See? When you said stop, Mommy stopped tickling you. When someone says stop or don’t touch me, you must stop touching and leave them alone.”

    Thank you for fighting so hard for your boys and for our girls. ❤



  10. Yes! I am also that mum of boys. I’ve often felt glad I won’t have to help a girl negotiate the world, but at the same time, the challenge of raising boys in the way you describe is just as great and just as important.


    1. I think you’re right. Both are hard (and exhausting!) in their own way. It’s a role I happily take on…most of the time. The other times? It’s like beating myself over the head. 😉


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