Tuesday, March 22, 2011

X is for Xanthippe (You can't take the Riot out of the Grrrrl)

Xanthippe was the wife of Socrates; it is suggested that he married her because she was smart and argumentative.

History has taken those traits and chosen to portray her as a raging, horrible shrew.

Because "smart' and "argumentative" are negative traits in a woman, right?


I was in Boston over the weekend with two fabulous women. One is a bit older than me. The other, a bit younger. We were walking past Victoria's Secret when a gaggle of 'tweens came out -- the oldest was probably 13. The youngest was probably 11. They were chatting excitedly and all clutching shopping bags emblazoned with the store's label.

My young friend said, "I hope to God those girls were in there buying lip gloss."

So did I, but somehow I doubted it.

Because it's important to be sexy, right? Even if you're eleven.

I was reading a blog the other day; the writer was getting major negative comments about the fact that she allowed her toddler to eat a chocolate chip pancake. Because obviously she'll get fat, right? And then she'll have body issues and OHMYGOD THE HORROR.

Because it's important for a two year old to have food issues dumped all over her, right? It's important to consider body image and the politics of beauty when you see a two year old eating a chocolate chip pancake ONE TIME.

I'm not a Mommy Blogger because, duh, I'm not a Mommy.

I keep hearing the term "Mommy Blogger" used in derisive ways. As though the fact that mothers all over the world are working to network with each other, as though their collective wisdom and experience, is laughable.

Because women don't have valid opinions, right? They don't KNOW anything. They couldn't have anything important to write about or say.

I want the smart girls of the world to unite and take over. When we talk, I want people to listen. When someone is dismissive of me because I have a uterus AND a brain, I want to be able to dress him (or her, for that matter -- there isn't always solidarity among gender lines) down without then being tagged a bitch -- I want to be able to stand up for myself without being thrown aside covered in labels like "strident" "ballbreaking" or "whiny".

I want our girl children not to know what the inside of a Victoria's Secret looks like. I want them to be concerned with so many more things than sexiness. I don't want to see ten year olds wearing eyeliner. I don't want them to be praised for looking twenty by men in their forties.

I want toddlers to be able to eat broccoli AND pancakes. I want there to be no judgement or shame directed at them or their parents when they do (I'd also like it if Dads were ALSO considered as part of the parenting team that makes choices, and if the finger pointing and nasty commenting was NOT always directed at Moms). I want little girls to know that it's more important to be healthy than it is to be skinny.

And I want the characteristics of a Xanthippe -- a smart woman who didn't rest meekly by while her philosopher husband considered the nature of the world, but who considered it with him -- sometimes loudly, sometimes in an argumentative way -- to be considered positives and not negatives, so that more women and girls will raise their voices.

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