“Mamma, can I paint my nails?” was not a question I expected my two-year old would ask me. Not that I have anything against nail polish, but since I never paint my nails I wondered where The Munch had been exposed to this practice. But then I remembered how her sexy babysitter has red toes, and then realized of course The Munch wants her feet to look sassy like hers.
The Munch is often around women. She observes how they behave, and identifies herself as a female like them. When I spend time with my friends and Munch, she sees herself as one of the girls. You know, a couple of gals hanging out, just one happens to be slightly bossier than the rest and infinitely more dramatic considering The Munch is ready to cry without any shame under any circumstance. Actually, come to think of it she fits right in.
Munch is beginning to notice elements of femininity and wanting to apply them to her own being. But part of her fitting into this world of feminine culture means that she is enacting behavior that is way beyond her years. For example since a few of my friends are pregnant, The Munch looks at that as an experience she should be having too.
Munch: “Mamma, I have a baby in my tummy.”
Toni: “You do?”
Munch: “Yeah, it’s a teeny tiny baby. Do you want to feel it?”
Munch: “In my tummy, my baby has her paci, and her bottle, and her toys, and her teddy bear, and a lollipop in case she gets hungry. Can you feel the toys in there?”
Toni: “I sure can Munch.”
Simone De Beauvoir talked about how we are born male or female, which determines our biology, but masculine and feminine traits are purely a socialized phenomenon. She believed there was nothing inherently different about baby boys or baby girls, and that gender is enforced through conditioning.
I love Simone De Beauvoir and even named my dog Mona after her, but now that I have a daughter I feel conflicted by her hypothesis.
I don’t see myself as intentionally conditioning my daughter to have feminine traits. I am not even sure I consider myself to be all that feminine. It is not like I go around wearing pink talking about my period all day. I just sometimes where pink and talk about my period on the days it’s happening. Is my womaness a genuine part of my personality, or just something I picked up as a child from other chicks who picked it up from other broads who picked it up from other skirts?
Is this something that I should be stopping? There is nothing overt I am doing to make Munch interested girly shit. These are decisions she is making on her own volition. I never pushed baby dolls in her face and demanded she play with them. Those were the toys that she naturally gravitated towards. Maybe that is because she sees me mothering her, and in turn wants some to mother- because I am her example.
How can I break this cycle of conditioning femininity when much of this influence is a consequence of my simply existing, and allowing her to observe other women? Femininity isn’t something you find under a rock, but discover through being around other females you adore. The young emulate adults the admire, and even if I am the biggest “tom boy” in the world, there will still be traits she picks up from other broads she respects.
Kind of like The Munch being really excited that her “poe nails” are painted red just like her babysitter’s.