I see the hashtag #BoyMom, so often. I see articles about being a #BoyMom and all of the supposedly unique experiences moms of boys have. Every time I read the articles, memes and comments, I get so annoyed. (Probably overly so.) Why? I am a mom of a girl. I hate the stereotyping that starts at such a young age. I’m probably more sensitive to it than a mom of boys would be, because girls are gender-typed and it actually impacts their life choices. I’m very aware of that and have goals to expose my daughter to it all.
The reality is that moms stereotype their children from the moment they learn the sex of their baby, and it is doing nothing but feeding our society’s learned gender roles. It sets back our girls yet again, and teaches them what they aren’t, what they should be, what they can’t do or how they are different.
It is so frustrating.
If you are a mom with a boy who dresses him in blue, and finds cute tractor onesies, you are stereotyping whether you mean to or not. If you are a mom of a girl who dresses her in pink dresses and bows, you are contributing as well. If you are a mom that gives your boy Legos and trucks, but has never thought to buy him a doll, you are stereotyping. If you are mom of a girl that gives her dolls, but never trucks, you are stereotyping. Granted, our stores don’t give us many options. There are boy and girl sections, and there are boy and girl clothes. Boy clothes don’t tend to have pictures of fairies, and girl clothes don’t tend to have pictures of dinosaurs. I get it. It’s easy to fall into the stereotypes. Let’s just not pretend that girls don’t have an interest in the stereotypical boy items- if we let them. Let’s not pretend that boys don’t have an interest in the stereotypical girl items– if we let them.
The #BoyMom hashtag is used quite liberally in today’s culture to describe activities and behaviors that girls enjoy and engage in all the time. So let’s take a look at the #BoyMom topics that are so often talked about:
1. Being obsessed with their penis and peeing everywhere. OK I’ll give this one to all the #boymoms. I don’t have to deal with my daughter pulling at a penis, peeing everywhere, etc. Feel free to use the hashtag on this topic whenever you please!
As for the rest of this list, it’s just a #kidthing and a #mom experience:
2. Fart jokes
3. Potty humor
4. Endless energy
5. Rough and tumble play
6. Expensive grocery bills
7. Fort building
8. Wanting to be naked
9. Playing in the dirt, and with sticks and bugs
10. Fascination with planes, trains, and automobiles
11. Frequent injuries
12. Taking apart everything
This list can go on and on. These are just the most common uses of #boymom. I’m sure that this list describes tons of boys. But guess what? It also describes just as many girls. Children find farting funny. Children find poop to be a great conversation topic. Children laugh at these topics. Children have tons of energy. They jump and run and leap and spin and don’t stop! They eat an insane amount. Children love building forts, and most prefer to be naked if given the opportunity. Playing in the dirt has no connection to boy or girl, unless you let it. The fascination with planes, trains, and automobiles is a kid thing, not a boy thing. These things move and they are everywhere. It’s fascinating. Kids get injured. They will fall, They will climb and jump. All kids. And taking things apart and learning how things work is not just a boy thing. It’s a label.
The same list could be written for #girlmom topics. Cooking, cleaning, dolls, crafts, pretend play, etc. Boys like those things as well. They key is letting our children experience everything and not gender-typing them from the get go. Maybe we can think before we type #boymom or #girlmom and realize that it’s only contributing to our society’s gender typing.
Moms also tend to use #boymom as a type of excuse. Boys don’t have to potty train later than girls. They are just as capable of doing it at an early age, just as some girls take longer. It depends on the child, not their sex. My daughter doesn’t know her letters already because she is a girl, she knows them because she took an interest. Interest is the key word with everything discussed.
Maybe your boy has been introduced to it all- including dolls, and he just gravitates towards tools and tractors. Maybe your girl has been introduced to it all, including getting dirty and playing with cars, yet she still gravitates towards dolls and princesses. That’s fine! Let’s just make sure we introduce our children to everything, and not hinder their natural tendencies and interests. Let’s stop labeling things. We don’t want our children to grow up with labels and boundaries, so let’s not superimpose these labels at birth! My daughter plays in the dirt, is interested in bugs, likes dinosaurs, and has her fair share of poop talk and fart jokes. The fact that I’ve heard the word poop 100 times by breakfast, makes me a #mom.