Girl children: Crap, basically, experts claim

I recently overheard the following conversation at a children’s birthday party:

Mum 1 [to heavily pregnant Mum 2]: It’s so great that you’re having another boy. Boys are so much easier than girls.

Mum 2: Yes, I know. Girls are such hard work!

At this point my gender-bullshit detector was beeping loudly, but I decided to say nothing. After all, I only have boy children. What do I know? Mind you, both of the women speaking only had boy children, too. So what the fuck did they know either?

We’ve all heard this conversation a million times before. Boys are so much easier, so easy-going, so calm. Girls are so fussy, so moody, so spiteful. Girl babies cry too much. Girls in the playground bitch about each other. Boys might kick the shit out of each other, but hey, that’s just them being boisterous. Basically, compared to boys, girls are crap.

Maybe it’s true. I mean, I have boys and I think they’re pretty ace. Perhaps if I’d had girls I’d be kicking myself for not having that abortion when I’d had the chance. But to be honest, I have no idea. Because I only have two children and there are billions of people in the world. How can I possibly use my two to make sweeping statements about what “girls” and “boys” are like? I know everyone else seems to, but I don’t want to join in.

My children are quite different from each other. The eldest is serious, studious, good at maths. The youngest is sociable, pretty, good at making friends. Or, to put it another way, the eldest is gentle, caring, good at looking after others. The youngest is boisterous, aggressive, good at winning fights. Do you see what I did there? It’s piss-easy to do this with any boy-boy, girl-girl or boy-girl pairing. The stereotypes will do whatever you want them to.

When it comes to sex and gender, it’s amazing the extent to which people will use a tiny sample to make massive generalizations. In Simon Baron-Cohen’s The Essential Difference, a whole chapter – called “Boy meets girl” – is devoted to allowing a mother to describe her one son and her one daughter. Because that’s what serious scientific research is all about, splitting a chapter up into two headings (Alex: cars, football, music and computers, then Hannah (Alex’s sister): dolls, cuddlies, animals and people), and allowing a mother to give various opinions on her own children who are not the whole world. It’s complete bollocks (okay, I’m not a scientist. But I have a scientist friend who says it’s complete bollocks and he has a dick, so that’s gotta be good enough for me).

I’m particularly pissed off about the degree to which gender stereotypes about children work against girls. This makes me feel a bit of a traitor as a mother. After all, I have boys. Shouldn’t I be fighting their corner? But then I’d like to feel in some way I am. I want them to grow up in a fairer world. I don’t want other people twisting what they say and do just because of the gender identity they have (and may not choose to have in future).

Anyhow, if I were to work from my own experience alone, this is how it would be:

  • Boys are ace
  • Girls are ace
  • My boys are the most ace, but they are also the hardest to look after, which suggests that I’m the best mum, too

Got that, everyone? Next time I’m at a party, that’s what I’m going to say.

5 thoughts on “Girl children: Crap, basically, experts claim

  1. Well, I have one daughter and one son, and this very small statistical sample leads me to make two points:

    1) I like to play with both of my children in the park, encourage them both to climb trees, and take them both to sporting events (I should add that both of my children enjoy all these things – I don’t force it upon them!). This has made the overall experience of having a boy slightly easier, because I can do all of this without people constantly saying ‘oh, you should encourage her to take more care of herself’, or ‘don’t be silly, she won’t want to do that’, or ‘are you sure she wouldn’t like to have this make-up for her birthday? I’d feel silly buying her football boots’. I always feel like I have to fight to be able to do these fun things with my daughter in a way which I do not have to do with my son. Not to mention trying to find clothes which are practical enough to cope with the wear and tear.
    2) NONE OF THIS IS ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE GENDER OF MY CHILDREN. It’s all about how other people think they ‘ought’ to behave, think, and feel.

    Of course, anyone with sons who are interested in ballet, make-up etc will experience this the other way around.

    I agree with your comments on that ludicrous chapter in Baron-Cohen’s book. This is a generalisation, but try it yourself by asking people who have two children whether they are alike or different. Those with two of the same gender will generally give you a run-down of the ways in which their children are unique individuals who have different feelings, likes and dislikes; those with one of each will often just say ‘oh yes, boys and girls are so different!’

  2. Actually I’m surprised by that as I only hear and see that girls are easier than boys (until teenage years when all hell breaks lose. There are even anagrams- SMOGs and DMOB’s- (Smug mother of girls and Depressed mother of boys or something). I keep trying to encourage my toddler to be more rough and tumble and beat all the boys at playgroup up but she won’t. Pesky Girl Toddlers.

    1. Maybe people adjust their sexism depending on what “flavour” kids you have. I’d never considered that before. Well, anyhow, I am not a DMOB, I am a SMOAP – Smug Mother of Ace People – will try to think of a better acronym than that but right now I need a wee! (God, since I started this blogging lark I really do just tell people everything…)

  3. I have a girl and a boy and they’re both a bloody nightmare.

    OK, so they’re both ace, too. I’ll admit it.

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