matt, liz and madeline

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short hair.

last week, maddy made the

decision to cut off

most of her hair.


#alttext#i wanted to make sure

that she was ready for all

that would come with

what should be a benign

choice, knowing that

many people would assign

all sorts of assumptions

and meanings to

the length of her hair, and that

those assumptions may

someday impact her

sense of self.

“you know that people are going to assume you’re a boy, right?”

“yeah. i know. i don’t care. i want my hair short.”

i didn’t ask why.

i already knew.

there were a thousand reasons…

the super heroes she

reads about all have

short hair behind their masks.

(she doesn’t give a shit about thor).

the kids she gravitates

to on the playground

(the boys)

have short hair.

i have short hair.

her auntie deb has short hair.

the mid-length hair

she’s had for the past

year or was a constant

annoyance, because it was

too short to pull back

in a ponytail, and the bangs

were always hanging

in her eyes

(she would never allow me to put a clip in to hold it back).

many of the people in her

life assign gender

to the things they see,

and most tell her that

the things that she’s in to

are “boy” things.

swinging swords
(instead of waving magic wands).

shooting arrows with a bow
(instead of blowing bubbles).

(instead of batgirl).

teenage mutant ninja turtles
(instead of my little pony).

finn and jake
(instead of princess bubblegum and marceline).

(instead of cheerleading).

throwing rocks
(instead of picking flowers).


building stuff
(instead of playing house).

breaking stuff
(instead of singing).

princes, kings and knights
(instead of princesses, queens and damsels).

black, green and blue
(instead of pink, pink and pink).

comic books
(instead of fancy nancy)

rollie pollies
(instead of ladybugs)

g.i. joes
(instead of barbies).

husker du and the misfits
(instead of madonna and beyonce).

(instead of koalas).

(instead of sea stars)

(instead of skirts)

plain t-shirts
(instead of anything with cats or sparkles).

short hair
(instead of long hair).

this list could go

on and on forever, but i think

you get the idea.

the people in her

life are not trying to

hurt her feelings,

nor are they trying to

get her to be more “girly.”

they’re simply and unintentionally

reinforcing gender stereotypes that

most of them grew up with.

so of course she wants

to fit the gender

stereotypes placed on her

by everyone else,

and she does this

by trying to

look like a “boy.”

because if she doesn’t,

she’s afraid that the

the rift that’s growing daily

between the boys and girls

on the playground is going

to open up so widely

that she’ll never find her

way to either side.

(she’s put it to me in nearly that exact manner, minus the metaphor).

see, here’s the thing.

in spite of my awareness

of the politics of gender

i once assumed

all sorts of things

about my child’s future behavior

and likes and dislikes based

on the fact that she

was born a girl.

i even got sucked into

dressing her

in “girl clothes.”

i bought her “girl” toys.

i read her “girl” books.

we watched “girl” shows.

part of that was because

i wanted to make sure

that madeline had some of

her mom’s female influence

in her life

(which is also kinda fucked up, because having a mother around does not ensure femininity or whatever).

the other part of that

is because i am an idiot who

who assumed that she’d

be like so many of the

girls/women i’d encountered

in my lifetime.

but eventually she started

articulating her likes/dislikes

and began making

her own decisions

about what she wanted to

wear and what she

wanted to play with

and what she wanted

to read and what she

wanted to watch.

and through that,

she helped me

to see the error

of my ways.

as always,

her happiness is my

only concern.

i’ve done everything i

can to accept that

she gravitates toward

“boy things” but not because

i care that she doesn’t

fit into the gender stereotypes

people lay upon her, but

because i want her

to know that

these stereotypes are

utter bullshit, and that

women can do anything

that men can do.

i point to all of the

strong female role models

in her life

(her mom was a brilliant businesswoman, and her auntie is lawyer),

telling her how they’ve

been able to succeed

in worlds that have long

been dominated by men.

i don’t want her growing up

with the idea that women

are somehow inferior.

so fuck anyone

who thinks that

“boys should look like boys and girls should look like girls.”
(as was suggested on my facebook post showing maddy’s before and after haircut pics).

or that boys should act like boys and girls should act like girls.

or whatever.

and thanks to my kid

for being the

kind of kid who

challenges perceptions

and makes people

think twice about

simply repeating the same

outdated gender norm bullshit

without caring what

anyone thinks.

we could all learn

something from madeline.

i know i have.

Posted by on 5/22/2014.

Categories: madeline

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About matt, liz and madeline

first, a warning my blog deals with adult themes like, sadness, loss and death. some of my blog entries actually contain bad words. sometimes lots of bad words. if you don’t like bad words, please turn away. seriously. if you don’t like bad words and you still feel compelled to read, well, please don’t complain […]more →