I was invited out on a girls' night this weekend. My neighbor—who I adore, and who never gets impatient with me asking her questions like "You said that 1-year-olds did or didn't wear shoes?" or "Do 1-year-olds give you a hand signal when they're thirsty?" or, pointing at a rocking horse, "Is this what people mean when they talk about pack-n-plays?"—set the evening up. She promised tapas, stiff drinks, and then dancing at a club with pretty, shiny, exceedingly well-groomed young men. Sold! Anyways, my neighbor invited along a friend I had never met to join the group. And I think I'm okay with that being our one interaction in this lifetime. See, she said that dreaded thing that sets my spine on fire. She said that she rarely goes out with women because all her friends are guys. She just doesn't really get along with women. Never has. They bug her. Gah!
What does that even mean? Why do I feel like I've heard this from too many women, and that they almost always sound like they're bragging a little? I can hang with the dudes, man, but broads? They get to talking about their feelings and somebody gets hurt or gets bitchy or gets catty and inevitably somebody winds up with a Lee press-on nail stabbed in their back. I feel like I've heard other people say recently how difficult girls are to raise, and how manipulative they can be, and how they fight so dirty with their friends, and blah blah blah. Boys are simple! They just push their trucks around and scrape their knees! (Excuse me while I pause and go add a truck and a box of band-aids to my baby registry for the Magnificent Miss Ava.) One friend, who I might add is raising up a terrifically dear baby boy, told me that sometimes she's grateful to have had a son. The only real worry she has about him as a teenager is drunk driving. Girls can just get into so much more trouble.
Back to girls' night: The conversation at the table moved on, to how men are just naturally born with a wandering eye, and at this point I probably started hallucinating and imagining a conversation that really was meant to be light and benign and it's a shame I have to take everything so seriously. (I'm such a girl!) I just really can't stand it when people talk about girls as if they are dopes who need to knock their knees together and protect their chastity at all costs. I hate it when guys make those easy jokes about how they're never going to let their daughters date until they're 30 or they're going to meet their daughter's first boyfriend at the door with a rifle. Do we really not trust that the 17-year-old girls who we've raised maybe have enough self-respect to make choices that protect and honor their well-being? Do we not trust the girls who we've raised to invite boys into their lives who treat them with the dignity and grace they deserve? And, while understanding that teenagers go bonkers with hormones, and cannot and should not always be expected to make the wisest decisions, shouldn't we be as demanding with our sons as we are our daughters when it comes to matters of friendship and sex. Shouldn't we have the same conversations with each? It can't just be that our sons need to be careful on prom night but our daughters need to be good, right?
People, I'm getting ready to raise a little girl [edit, per the wise and supremely wonderful Filoli: I'm getting ready to parent a little girl but raise a woman]. I don't know a thing about what I'm in for. But here are some things I believe. Or, at least, here are some things I professed at great volume, with calamari batter shooting out of my mouth, or muttered to myself like a crazy woman in the ladies' room, at girls' night.
1) If you as a female don't like women as a gender, it might simply be that you fear it's you who are unlikable.
2) If we as mothers raise our little girls to be princesses, and teach them to crave compliments about their appearances above all else, it shouldn't come as a surprise when these little girls grow into women who are frustrated or unkind when there's another beautiful woman in the room.
3) If we raise our sons to love and respect women, maybe we could then worry less about our daughters.
4) My best friend, and Ava's godmother, once told me that the greatest compliment she ever got paid in her life was when someone called her sisterly. Now this girl is a stunner, an actress no less, but the praise that she holds closest to her breast is that she is good to her fellow women. Lucky Mama Dog. Lucky Pup.
5) I am a total buzzkill and so let's all go dancing and I will buy everyone a round of lemon drop shots.
And off we went to Oilcan Harry's where I danced awkwardly to a techno version of Britney Spears' Womanizer. Gah!