As a Jewish woman who considers herself an ardent feminist, I never know if my (spoken or unspoken) messages to my daughter have registered. And as a mother and grandmother, I try to follow the advice of a friend who has told me the importance of keeping my lips zipped whenever I can contain myself. After all, she says, my grandchildren aren’t my children. But there have been some very nice surprises, as the following suggests.
Prologue: some years ago while shopping for nonsexist toys for my grandkids, now ages 4 (a little boy) and 7 (granddaughter), I noticed a huge display of Barbies at the checkout. Since the young woman taking my money was not my daughter, I felt free to say, “I wish your store wouldn’t sell those.” She replied, “But everyone likes them.” I said, “But no one looks like them! Nobody has bodies like theirs. These dolls are totally false and don’t do anything positive for little girls’ self-images.” Needless to say, no action was taken.
Flash forward: At my granddaughter’s fourth birthday, I noted that she,Tamara, had received three Barbie dolls. If I had been asked, I would have said that they should be returned to the stores where they were purchased.
However, later the same day, I heard my daughter Claire telling Tamara that the reason Barbie was dressed up was that she was on her way to pick up her Nobel Prize in Medicine.
The moral of the story: Our daughters may be listening to us even when we think they aren’t!
–Julia Wolf Mazow, writer and Lilith regular