One of my best friends is a father of 2 kids. One of those kids is a girl, who is currently 8.
This friend and I have similar, but in some ways very different, political beliefs. He is appalled by police violence and abuse of power. But is NRA-sympathetic (at best) and has guns at home. Many if not most of his close friends are women. His wife is great, and is successful in her career, and he is proud of her success. He is a very active parent, and involved in his kids’ lives and activities.
But when we disagree, it’s...major. Perhaps the best example of this was one day when he, apropos of nothing, said, “Wasn’t it just better for everyone overall when men were the breadwinners, and had pensions, etc.?” No, sir. No, it was not. WTF. I responded basically in that manner, and pointed out that it was better when I was able to support myself without a husband and have a fucking credit card in my own name. I noted I did not prefer a system where I’m supposed to entrust my physical well-being to some guy. “You just need to find a good man.” WTF!!! NO. “Well you can be a nurse, or a teacher.” Ok, seriously, no! Admittedly, he sometimes says things just to get a rise out of people—but that too, is an annoying thing and imho is an attribute most commonly found in straight white cis men, of whom he is one.
Anyway this is prologue for something he said today that I’m having an extreme WTF reaction to, but couldn’t bring myself to completely address to him. So he is reading Harry Potter with his 8-year-old daughter, to practice reading. Neither have ever read them, so he doesn’t know what happens. They read it at night before bed. He mentioned that they have to talk about....
WHY YOU DON’T WANT TO BE LIKE HERMIONE. Why? Because “she is a know it all.”
WTF. He’s mentioned before his daughter can be “too bossy.” I have repeatedly noted that what people call leadership in boys is called bossiness in girls. He swears, no, it’s different, and that several girls in her class are bossy.
But this really bums me out. His daughter is high strung but why the fuck are parents still teaching girls that how others perceive them is more important than SHOWING THEY KNOW WHAT THE FUCK IS UP. I love Hermione. Hermione is the bomb. I didn’t read HP until college, and I dressed up as Hermione for Halloween multiple times. Hermione is super smart, a leader, brave, and maybe best of all, particularly for younger readers - Hermione is herself. She doesn’t contort herself to be pleasing to others.
Don’t even get me started on the food issues I feel like they have saddled this same daughter with already. (Both parents are always concerned with gaining weight and having been a kid who was a firstborn who quietly learned by observing what I “should” be doing, etc. I don’t think they are at all conscious enough with how they address weight and food issues.)
I don’t have kids. I would have liked to have kids but I don’t think it will happen for me. I don’t want to backseat parent. But I just don’t think he understands how much someone like his daughter, who is extremely driven by goals, praise, etc., takes to heart these types of admonitions. Maybe I’m just projecting, but I was WELL into adulthood when I was able to address some of those types of things—where I’d been carrying around what a parent thought was an offhanded comment. To kids, especially kids who yearn for adult approval, no comments are truly offhanded, at least not that young.
Telling his daughter not to be like Hermione is telling her not to be like herself.
Maybe I am also troubled because I feel like he is also telling me that I, too, am a problem person who he doesn’t want his daughter to be like. (Even if he himself doesn’t understand that this is the logical conclusion.)
And most of all, I am tired of people telling women, regardless of our ages, to be quiet or not be “know it alls.” Or in any other way, to ignore who we are in favor of who others prefer.