“Good Girl,” Bad Word 

I don’t know what I’m doing, as a mother. Every day is a new set of challenges, discoveries. Last week, we tried time out and this week I’m just waiting it out. There’s a lot of winging it.

One thing I do know is that I don’t want to raise a “good” girl. Yet, I catch myself using this phrase with Mae, and it makes me cringe. I want to put myself in timeout every time this phrase slips from my lips. Mae picked up her toys today and I said “good girl.” I wanted to catch the words and shove them back inside me.

I’ve written about feeling like as a female teacher, I’m seen as either a mother figure or sexual object (the good girl or the bad girl) by male students. Most women, rather they realize it or not, have been limited by the societal expectations that we should be sweet and good. I know I have.

I’ve been a feminist since I took a Literary Theory course in undergrad, so for about 12 years. I’ve thought about gender norms for over a decade, yet I can’t stop myself from slipping into those comfortable expectations at times.

It’s so much more than “good girl.” It’s not owning a toy airplane or dump truck; it’s calling her “cute” much too often when it comes to clothing. It’s the way I’m teaching her to examine herself in the mirror because she watches me. All. The. Time.

I’m not a perfect feminist, no one is, but I want to do better, to improve.

So I’m going to try to  rid “good girl” from my vocabulary. I will say good listening, smart girl, or just give her a freakin high five. 

Mae and I, we’re both a work in progress. You want to join us? 


2 thoughts on ““Good Girl,” Bad Word 

  1. I think all parents are winging it; well I know I am! I had never thought about that expression (good girl), but I agree with you that some things we do/say by force of habit are kinda giving the wrong message. But it’s soooo hard to get rid of all that! Like in the 1rst year of my daughter’s life, I would feel really bad the rare times I dressed my daughter in pink, like I was committing some feminist crime or something. Nowadays, I’ve completely let go of my aversion to pink… I’ve decided to pick my battles, and this one is not in my priorities. I think that the battle of words is way more important, though. Like how we always put so much attention on the physical appearance of girls, as you mentioned. Lately, my daughter has started asking to wear dresses, and when she has one on, she’s asked a couple of times if she was pretty, like the dress MADE her pretty in some way. For now, all I could come up for an answer was “But you’re always beautiful”, but I’d like to find something better to say at some point… I hope I can. And I wanted to tell you that ” high fives” are always really appreciated in our home 🙂

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