Friday, October 30, 2009

He's All Baby! הוא כזה תינוק

I heard it again today. The twenty-something mom saying about her six-week-old infant: hu kazeh ben! Translation: “He’s all boy”. Tip: If you want to see me go ballistic, this is the perfect way to do it. Since I wasn’t part of the conversation, I managed to control myself and make do with an eyeroll and a sigh, but what my shadow was doing was tapping her on the shoulder and saying:

“Excuse me. This is 2009. How is it that you’re twenty-eight years old and you sound like my grandmother? Have we gone backwards? Are we devolving? Was feminism just a blip?"

That's right: Despite what you choose to believe, feminism is too about combating gender stereotypes; if we perpetuate stereotypes, how can we honestly say that our children have choices? Sorry, Millennials: Despite what you may believe, feminism is not “the choice to dress my girl in girly-garb if I want; I’m secure in my feminism. I’m liberated.” Mom, you may feel liberated, but your job is far from done.

Let’s take a minute and break this down: You say your son is “all boy”. Even if I chose to buy into stereotypes, this doesn’t parse. What is he doing at age six weeks that’s typically masculine? Is he smoking cigars? Watching a prize fight on ESPN? Saying “hubba hubba” as a blond bombshell passes by? Fast-forward 16 years. If he were doing any of the above, would you be saying glowingly of him, “He’s all boy!”?

I’m thinking you’ll say no. I’m thinking you probably want your son to have more substance than a cartoon version of “boy” or “man”. If you do, then how come you’re starting now — at age six weeks — to push a cartoon agenda, if only in your own mind? At what point does it stop being in your own mind and begin to be absorbed by him? When he starts to understand language? Age two? Three? At that point, will you jump up and “insert the Human Being disk into your son’s CD drive” and quit referring to him as “all boy” / relating to him as a stereotype?

Mom, wouldn’t it be simpler to insert the Human Being disk now, rather than have to uninstall the cartoon program later on? Consider substituting for “He’s all boy!” > “He’s exquisite. I’ve never seen anything quite like him. I’m crazy about him!” There. Didn’t that feel wonderful?

7 comments:

  1. hahaha ok then joe

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  2. Miriam, once again you stop me in my tracks and make me think. This blog should be included in every parent's hand book to raising well rounded kids when they leave the hospital with their newborns. Keep it up. Anita

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  3. Your best blog yet.

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  4. This was good! And very true!

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  5. Rabbi Susan SilvermanNovember 5, 2009 at 1:26 PM

    Right on!!!

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  6. הנה עוד משהו מזעזע שנתקלתי בו: לפני כמה ימים אני יוצאת עם הילדים שלי מהגן ואני רואה בחוץ ילד (בערך בן שנתיים) בוכה. אמא שלו צועקת עליו "מה אתה ילד קטן? מה אתה בחורה?"
    הבן שלי הלך, הביא לו חיבוק ואמר לו שזה ממש בסדר לבכות.

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  7. דנה, כמה עצוב, אבל כמה יפה מצד בנך.

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