Raising a Girl – Gender Stereotyping

A couple of days ago, I read an article about raising girls “9 Things I Wish I’d Known About Raising  a Girl“.  I was interested in reading it, wondering if I would find any of the surprises I’ve found in raising a daughter that has been different to raising my sons. I didn’t. Instead, I found a list of things that I don’t recognise in my daughter, or myself.

Is having a daughter a bit like having a dress up doll? Image courtesy of Sicha Pongjivanich / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Is having a daughter a bit like having a dress up doll?
Image courtesy of Sicha Pongjivanich / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Things like “You’ll buy her stuff she doesn’t need”. I don’t do that – and certainly not the things listed in the article – socks that look like ballet shoes, pillbox purses and tons of accessories. Nope. I don’t like lots of pointless stuff, and nor does she. She has actual ballet shoes, from attending a weekly ballet class for the past year. She has a couple of tiny fabric satchels which she uses to carry her most precious belongings (ribbons and stones mainly). But that’s it. She has some hair bands and slides, but she doesn’t like to wear them often, so we don’t buy them.

Things like “She’ll strike a sexy pose”. No. She won’t. She’s three and although I know there are many three year old girls who do strike a “sexy” pose, Plum is not one of them. Children that age copy what they see. Plum does not see people being inappropriately provocative so she doesn’t copy it. The article talks of a mother whose young daughter was seen twerking at a party. Again, children copy what they see, so if you don’t want them to do something, try not exposing them to it…

The only thing that rings a bells on the list is the reaching milestones earlier than her brothers. But I don’t know if that’s because she’s a girl or because she’s her. Her male cousin also hit milestones earlier than my sons, so I’m not convinced she was walking and talking early because she’s a girl.

Things I wasn’t prepared for in raising my daughter

  • how similar we are in personality – she can be incredibly stubborn and from about 15 months to 36 months, she could tantrum for England. She really was a master at it and for a good while in that time frame she was very difficult to parent, and I didn’t enjoy it. I wasn’t prepared for that. Bean was very placid and mostly good natured at the same age, and tantrums were rare, so it was a shock to the system when Plum was so different. PK looks to be heading for some middle ground between the two. Happily, Plum is pretty much through that phase and I thoroughly enjoy my daughter again.


  • How difficult it would be to provide gender neutral toys – we have no problem with her playing with dolls, or tools or anything else – but I wish toy manufacturers would get over themselves and stop making everything they think girls should play with in only pink. There’s a whole spectrum of colour out there, why are toys limited to variations of pink and blue?  Don;t even get me started on Lego for girls. Plum and PK play together well, and they’ll be found playing with pirate ships, musical instruments, dolls, teapots and anything else that takes their fancy.


  • How difficult it would be to dress a girl toddler in a suitable way for a girl toddler – ie, clothes that practical and comfortable. Plum doesn’t particularly like girls’ pants; she much prefers boys’ trunks. I can’t understand why they don’t make them for young girls as well, but she’s quite happy with her bright coloured shorts, pirate themed shorts, circus themed shorts. I know though, that she would also like to have butterfly shorts but those aren’t available. Another issue I have is that clothes designers seem to think that two and three year old girls sit primly in a chair all day and so design “everyday” clothes that are fragile looking, and not suitable for girls who want to run around, jump in puddles, roll around on the grass and do all the things that boy toddlers do (and have clothes for!).  And my final problem with clothes for young girls is that often they are just smaller versions of clothes for older girls. I want my toddler to dress like a toddler, not a 12 year old or a 16 year old. I’m sure that’s not an unusual request!

Are there are anything that surprised you about bringing up girls? What do you think of the article I linked to?

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6 comments on “Raising a Girl – Gender Stereotyping

  1. I totally agree with you! My older girls are 8 & 9 and I get sick of the fact that my boy can wear shorts that are just above his knee yet girls’ shorts barely cover their bottoms! I could go on all day! Very annoying!

  2. I have to say, having 4 younger sisters, who have a lot of energy, how people cope with more than one child ever, I have no idea!

  3. Great post! I really enjoyed reading it. I don’t have any children, but pretty sure if I do I want a boy!

  4. Yes to all of this! I only have one daughter so can’t compare the experience of raising her to raising a boy, but I find it so frustrating how girls (and boys) are pigeonholed so early. I don’t buy her stuff she doesn’t need (well, no more than I would for a boy) and she certainly doesn’t strike sexy poses – probably because she’s unlikely to have seen a sexy pose in endless episodes of ‘Wibbly Pig’ and ‘Charlie and Lola’ and she definitely hasn’t seen one from her mum!! She too is a very fiery toddler (so your comment that this phase passes is music to my ears!) but I’ve seen boys have massive tantrums so I think that’s just because she’s her, not because she’s a girl.

    The thing that has surprised me most about raising a girl is the effect it’s had on me – I am so much more conscious now of the way girls and women are labelled and commodified and it’s something I am becoming increasingly passionate (read: irate) about. The older my daughter gets, the more I want to resist her becoming stereotyped.

  5. Pingback:Raising a Boy – Gender Stereotyping | Barefoot Mahala

  6. Man, I don’t recognise anything in that article – I can’t relate to any of it. I have 4 kids, a boy and 3 girls.

    One of my girls does hoard (but so do her parents a little bit) and I really hated that section of the article. She hoards because of her evolutionary gatherer roots???? WTF???? In fact WTF to the whole thing – “things I wish I’d know about raising a girl”? Why? Would you have bought more stuff she didn’t need?

    And as for the – yay, now I get to read books and snuggle thing – why is that gender specific? And the sexy pose? Ewwww.


    Anyway, loved YOUR post.

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