PARENTS

Stop Stereotyping Boys And Girls!

10/04/2013 08:47 | Updated 22 May 2015
Stop stereotyping boys and girls!Alamy

Did you read Ursula Hirschkorn's recent Parentdish feature entitled Why I am Glad I Don't have Daughters? Well I did and I've done little since but fume and mutter under my breath.

You see, Hirschkorn explained that as the mother of four boys she is sick of being asked about having a girl, going on to outline why a female child would be her vision of hell. My problem is that her views read less like a preference for tractors and Ben 10 and more like a manifesto for the destruction of females.

She says things like, "I will never have to deal with that special brand of scorn reserved by teenage girls for their mothers", that her sons will "never look me up and down, their lips curling and declare that I can't possibly be considering going out looking like that" and "Girls can be petty, spiteful, cruel and unpredictable".

Look I have no doubt that Hirschkorn despises people commenting on her all-male offspring. I feel the same about anyone who asks me when I'll be having a second child. I also have a boundless amount of respect for anyone who raises four children. Yet does Hirschkorn have to display such a bitter disdain of her very own gender?

Hirschkorn has four boys, two of whom are twins. So that means that's she's spun the gender-tombola three times and each time has won a son. So what would she have done if she'd won a girl? Her view of little girls sounds so embittered that I genuinely wonder how she would have coped with becoming the mother of one.

In her article Hirschkorn talks about another writer 'whining' about the birth of a son. Yet judging from her own writing I have little doubt that Hirschkorn would have done the very same upon the birth of a daughter.

Andy Harris agrees: "The writer doesn't have anything positive to say about being a woman or having women in your life in any capacity. The sweeping generalisations about both sexes are staggering. Is the writer suggesting that boys can't have complex emotions or a sense of style? I really hope my son isn't condemned to a life of being 'blissfully straight forward' and so bereft of spark and individuality that he becomes predictably dull. I will be stunned if he doesn't encounter boys who are 'petty, spiteful and cruel' because I know I did."

To me it is the likes of Hirschkorn's wild generalisations about gender that have landed little girls and young women in the mess they are in today.

i

Girls are endlessly presented with ignorant stereotypes of bitchy, dress-loving, shoe-obsessed women who sob over men and calorie counts.

i

Ever seen a woman being told that her opinion is wrong because she's 'just being hormonal'? Well that's exactly what Hirschkorn is helping to perpetuate with her attitude towards daughters.

It makes me wonder how Hirschkorn copes with being a woman herself, when her opinion of her own gender is so perilously low, and how she relates to other women and their own daughters. Does she view them all as inferior because inexplicably, to her, they are more complicated than boys?

Which brings me to another of Hirschkorn's inaccurate generalisations. In her article she states that having only sons relieves her of "the agonising trials of buying a training bra" and that she "won't have to explain periods in anything but the vaguest of detail" going on to suggest that as the mother of sons she doesn't have to tackle such icky issues.

Really? So what about wet dreams, masturbation, drugs and drink? And does her lack of interest in explaining periods mean that we have her to thank for yet another generation of men who have little idea about how a woman's body works?

"So boys are all blissfully straightforward, eh?" says Sarah Pritchard. "Clearly Hirschkorn has never met any of my exes. And as for explaining periods, is it really that complicated? God forbid one of her sons comes home asking her to explain a Harold Pinter play or the Large Hadron Collider.

"I just find this view utterly depressing. There's enough gender stereotyping to deal with as adults. It's our duty to make sure we don't make our children deal with it too."

Which is exactly the problem I have with Hirschkorn's opinions of little girls. Her disgust of them appears to be so strong that this must surely come through in her parenting.

i

And so what does that teach her boys? That girls are silly, fussy, nasty, snide and unpredictable. That's hardly the basis of a lifelong respect for their opposite sex, is it?

i

"Hirschkorn is completely wrong in this respect," says Sally Harding. "I have a tremendously complex 14-year-old son with an eating disorder. You see, boys can be just as image-obsessed as girls, no matter how nicely they are brought up. They can give their loving parents just as many sleepless nights as their girlfriends can."

So the next time Hirschkorn wants to defend her role as the mother of four boys, and rightly so, I and large swathes of womankind would really appreciate it if she could curb the bitterness with which she speaks of her own gender.

Every child is different and that's regardless of whether they have a penis or a vagina. There are easy going girls and complicated boys and for that I am relieved. Otherwise Hirschkorn's laughable stereotypes would be true and that would be the saddest situation of all.

What do you think? Let us know

Adolescent Hormone Hijack

Suggest a correction