Sunday, April 19, 2009


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!


Julia said...

That's what I was looking for...something to make me laugh out loud SEVERAL times.

Lemon drops are way too girly, can we do vodka shots, neat?

Julie said...

What is it with those "I get along better with guys women?"
I love this quote (found on the brilliant Give All to Love blog):
From Madeleine Albright: There's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women.

We will all talk more about this over drinks in our LA compound soon.

Christine said...

I'm glad you wrote something because I enjoy what you say and the way you write it. Yes, totally agree about that whole thing. A girlfriend of mine today told me that her husband was grumbling about how important her friends are to her. (Okay, I had had a beer or two when I said....) Yeah, well wake up and realize you married a GIRL. Hellooooo....


P.S. Talk about a blast from the past, did you say Lee Press-On Nails? OMG, you are killing me.

Bridget said...

Um, can I just say HEAR! HEAR! And I think we ALL need to go out for some vodka shots...or hell....I don't CARE what. You the writer, and You the commenters are some amzazing as hell, strong, wise, and wonderful women...and I'm proud to be in blogosphere with ALL of you. I just wish we could squeeze the U.S. closer sometimes...

coffeemom said...

Yup. Yes. Yes, ma'am! You are spot on w/ this and clearly are totally ready to parent sweet Ava. The other stuff: pack-n-plays, shoes, whatever, it all comes along w/ it, don't even worry about all've got the important stuff,the stuff she's really gonna need, down. Lucky little one, lucky mom.

Alex said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex said...

Great post, Mama dog!

Funny thing, I never have been very good at being friends with men. I've had boyfriends, and now a husband, but I just never really got the whole "guy friend" thing. My loss, I am sure, but I've always gotten so very much from my women friends. And I've never trusted those women with all the guy friends. I am totally with you, I don't like that woman one bit!!

And you are going to raise one awesome girl!!!

filoli said...

Hee hee hee...okay, so regarding your list I am wondering if the following were inner voice conversations: 1, maybe 3, and 1/2 of 4. For my comment to your post, I refer you to the entire book, Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, by Susan Faludi (which I am sure you have already read). Anytime a male or female is complaining to me or pontificating regarding gender and other such issues, I kindly refer them to this material. I figure until they have 600 pages on this issue I do not have to engage in such a discussion.

I have a few alpha [fe]males in my life (what I like to call the "friends with dudes" dudettes)that talk about how grateful they are for boys, bitch about Barbies, clothing and the frustration of "girly" things. As though some of these things are not the building blocks of strenth for strong secure women. Assuming that feminity undercuts authority and power reveals not only a faulty grasp of history but a sad and obscured view into understanding oneself as a woman of power, beauty and force.

Finally (because I type too fast and allow every damn thought to be transcribed), you are not about "to raise a little girl," you are about to raise a woman. A magnanimous woman of character, strength, profound identity,deep compassion, quick wit and more than likely (like her mother) razor tongue. You are raising a woman who will have one blissful wonderful passage of little girl with curls and bows and trucks and band aids before emerging into her noble outlined soul as woman. A woman no doubt others will find as sisterly.

Oh and to end this post with dancing to Womanizer - sweet wonderful all powerful Mama Dog - you are the man!


Jill said...

you crack me up and you write so well!

Kerry said...

I am a fan of your blog (lurker does not fairly describe how happy I am when I see you have posted something new.) I am researching Ethiopian Adoption and found you that way. So, you don't have a clue who I am and now I am going to come out of the closet as a woman who used to say that I got along better with boys than girls. This is something I have thought about many times in the past two decades as I evolved from having more male friends to having more female friends. I can not speak for other women but I can say that I identified with and had better friendships with men when I was younger because we had more common interests and they seemed to understand friendship and loyalty better. I translated that in a naive (and probably what I thought was cute and cheeky) manner to "I get along better with guys."
As I think about this I realize that I had some very nasty, manipulative female friends in elementary school and junior high, which certainly influenced my later feelings.
Of course, once I had my heartbroken by men a few times I switched allegiance and began to understand better how a great girlfriend can be just as loyal and often better at discussing emotionally charged issues. I know that at an early age I understood “sisterhood” and just needed to surround myself with the right women.
How does this translate to parenting? As the mother of an 11-month-old female, this is a real issue for me. While I hope that she never becomes infatuated with Disney Princesses, I guess it will be okay, as long as she has at least one good friend who really understands “sisterhood.” I hope she has a girl friend who says “Hey, if you are Sleeping Beauty you won’t have to wait for a prince because I will kill the witch and come save your ass.”
As for the entire point of your post , (which I think was probably more about sexism than about my childhood) you are so, so, so right and you have given me lots to think about. As for the woman who was out with you on “Girls Night”- what she probably needs is a strong female friend – but I am not volunteering for the job!

Lori said...

That Madeleine Albright quote is incredible. As is this post. I've had amazing friends through my life, both male and female (in our wedding, my bridesmaids included two "bridesmen"), but I've always felt conflicted about large gatherings of women. I've felt awkward at these gatherings but never was sure why. I'm wondering if it's not something connected to what you wrote about parents raising their girls to be princesses--have always felt uncomfortable with that whole "princess" thing. My parents never treated me or my sister like this, so I wonder if the womens' gatherings that make me feel awkward aren't just full of grown-up princesses? I don't know.
I don't think I'm making much sense here. Maybe a result of trying to write this after a day of chasing after a little boy who is really into trucks, dirt, twinkle twinkle little star, and squeezing out poots in the grocery aisle, just like his daddy.
ps: I also really dig the lee press-on nail reference and love the image of calamari sauce spewing from your mouth

Emily said...

Love this post! As a mother of a son and soon to be two sons, I despise the phrase, "boys will be boys!" What, no, boys ARE boys...they WILL be men, husbands, fathers, so let's raise them as such and then parents could let their daughters start dating at a younger age or maybe even leave their rifle in the closet when the boyfriend comes to visit:)