So I found the PERFECT birthday card for my niece who just turned 8 years old. The perfect card isn't easy, especially kids' cards. See, I generally go for a good fart card or a monkey card, but Lindsey is just eight and I thought she needed a nice, normal kids' card. Generally they are terrible and generic and stupid, but I found one that was, as I said, perfect for Lindsey. Here it is, the inside isn't important, it's the outside that rocks.
This has Lindsey written all over it. See, it's a QUIZ! And it's a trick question. See, they ALL belong).
Lindsey loves school. She excels at school. She does math workbooks at home. For fun. She had bugs on her birthday cake because she loves bugs and science and biology and nature. She doesn't carry around a doll, she carries around a microscope. Not a magnifying glass, mind you, a microscope. She makes lists of things, like a miniature Linnaeus. Get the picture?
See that list? Brains, Charm, Talent, Skills. She has it all, in spades. She's smart as a whip and cute as a button. She sings in the church choir and takes dance lessons. She won a prize in the school science fair. That card, and Mickey's list, may as well have been made for HER.
And Mickey. She and her family recently went to Disney, so she is all about Mickey right now. But this isn't just any Mickey, it's Mickey with glasses. Lindsey just got glasses, not too far off from the ones cartoon Mickey is wearing. See?
Ok, so it's the perfect card, right? It even plays "The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades" when you open it. You'd think I'd be happy. Wal-Mart gets a "win" for having just the right thing, right? Wrong.
This is where the card sits on the shelf.
I'm sold on this card, but just for the heck of it I look in the "For Girl" section for something comparable. Nope. They are all "cute" and "adorable" and "special" and "sparkle". No brains, no talent, no skill. Sparkle.
I'm not one to see creeping sexism (or any other "ism" for that matter) around every corner, but this really burned me up. Why is the one card that perfectly describes my little niece in the "For Boy" section? Why is there no brains-are-good girl card? One more reason I'm thankful I don't have a daughter. I would be a basket-case constantly fighting back against this crap.
But I have nieces. And a wife. And a mother. And a sister. And some really damned spectacular female friends. And they have to live in this world with this silliness all around them. And it was worse yesterday than it is today, but we STILL throw "sparkle" at girls and "brains" and "talent" and "skills" at boys. The women in my life are still judged by how they look and how they present themselves. The doctor has to dress as conservative as she can to be taken seriously at work. The director is condescended to and figuratively patted on the head by men she could run intellectual and creative circles around. The reporter is underestimated. The office professional is taken for granted. It's ridiculous.
This isn't to say these women, and my nieces are following right behind, aren't attractive, cute, adorable or whatever. They are. I guess you could say they even have their own sparkle. But it is in their eyes. It's a reflection of the intelligence, the creativity, the discipline, the drive and the strength that it takes for a woman to overcome a society that puts THAT card in the "For Boy" section.The very things presented as boy traits are exactly what makes these women awesome.
Lindsey's future IS bright. She has it all and she will grow up learning to appreciate herself and use her talent and brains and skills to improve herself and enrich her community. Her parents and family will see to that.
I love that dancing, singing, microscope toting math geek with all my heart. I love that GIRL. Just the way she is.