On Gender Roles, Equality and the #BoyMom Hashtag

I’m afraid I’m on another soapbox today.

This time it’s about gender roles and equality. And why, as the mom of four exceptional girls, I hate certain uses of the #boymom hashtag.

Here’s the thing: I firmly believe that gender differences are real, natural and good. But those differences are hard to define and have very little to do with the activities kids choose or their skills and talents.

With four daughters, there is a lot of the 3 Ps {pretty, pink and princess} in our home. This is not about denying our girls’ femininity or pretending they don’t have a need to feel beautiful.

But while we embrace and encourage their girly sides, I refuse to pigeonhole them because of their gender. (And I feel the same way now that we’re raising a son as well.) The problem with trying to define gender roles or characteristics in concrete terms is that it inevitably leaves someone feeling abnormal for their innate personality, passions or interests.

On Gender Roles, Equality and the #BoyMom Hashtag

For example, Sean and I often get frustrated with marriage books/classes/etc. because so many of the stereotypes don’t fit us. I work, manage the money and am more likely to fly off the handle. He’s a stay-at-home dad, chooses our home decor and puts up with my Italian temper, often giving me a hug when I’m in the middle of a snit, because he knows that’s what I really need.

But he also handles all house, yard and car maintenance while I plan the meals and the homeschool curriculum. And while I’m the one who works right now, I’m also the one who is more likely to be up with unhappy or sick babies, not because he won’t do it, but because I want to.

I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a feminist (I happen to like the idea of being married to a strong man who makes me feel safe) but I also know that girls are capable of pretty much anything boys are…and vice versa.

On Gender Roles, Equality and the #BoyMom Hashtag

Our girls are about frills and fashion, but they’re also rough and tumble. They like archery, climbing trees (often in dresses), building forts, playing in the mud, collecting bugs, etc. They’ve gone through pirate and dinosaur phases. They fight over our Black & Decker toy tool set. And they love to race Daddy on his mountain bike and jump from the top of the swingset.

So when I see one of these activities labeled with the #boymom hashtag — as if they’re things that only boys do — I get more than a little annoyed. I don’t think “boy moms” would appreciate me labeling pictures of my girls cooking or painting as girl activities, but the #boymom hashtag is used liberally for activities that plenty of girls enjoy.

I’m sure the differences between raising boys and girls will become more obvious as our little man grows, and I’m not talking about ignoring our children’s gender altogether.

What I am talking about is letting our kids discover their own interests and talents without gender bias. Let’s not limit our girls by making them feel like they should stick with princesses and babies while leaving the bugs and dirt and science experiments to the boys.