boys will be boys and girls will be…

I have long been interested in girlhood, or what it means to be a girl in the 21st century. I remember my girlhood vividly. I remember the pieces of it, the quilt from my grandmother, the pink barrettes I wore in the first grade, the patent leather shoes I wore in third grade.

I remember.

I remember my TV crushes, crash diets, Vogue magazines, and push-up bras. I remember high school years as a young woman who desperately wanted to be cool. I remember Talbots turtlenecks and triangle leg jeans and books, lots of books. As a girl and as a young woman, I didn’t do a lot of the things my peers did because I didn’t believe, I wasn’t taught to believe that a girl could behave “badly” and “get away with it.”

Yes, boys will be boys. Boys will be dirty and ruthless and ambitious and rude and gross and mean and bullies, but girls will be… polite and forgiving and well-behaved and good.

I hate that line of thinking. I hated it as a girl and I hate it now as a woman, a mom to two girls. “Oh, he’s just being a boy.” Statements like this really don’t hold up. And they’re unfair to girls and boys alike. They limiting, restricting, and short-sighted.

Boys will be boys and girls will be… What? What will girls be? Seriously. I want to know. What will girls be?

My oldest girl is not like “most girls.” And most girls are not like most girls.

While she is sweet at times and well behaved at others, but she is not afraid of dirt of bugs. And she’s aggressive, fiercely independent, and bold.

She’s a girl.

Boys will be boys and girls will be girls. They will quiet, loud, good, bad, loving, mean, sweet, bitter. They will be…


I think the issue of perceptions of what girls should be bothers me a bit more becomes I pay attention to it as a mom of girls. I get that boys and girls are different, but I don’t get the need to call certain behaviors in boys “boy behaviors.” What are your thoughts?

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2 Responses to boys will be boys and girls will be…

  1. Team Oyeniyi says:

    Definitely do not think we should encourage the idea of “boy” or “girl” behaviours. I try to make very sure I don’t do any such thing and have been doing that for well over 30 years.

    In the other hand – we need to recognise that Equality does not mean Sameness, as I also frequently say. In fact I wrote about it just after I wrote about bullying – one lead to the other in a strange way.

    Finding the balance is the hard part! We shouldn’t force people to be the same, neither should we pre-define them as different.

    • Jessica says:

      Great point! And I agree! Equality does not mean sameness. I think the two being conflated often is the hang up that many people have when talking about gender and children. I’m off to check out your post now! Thank you for sharing!

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