This mom is the reason why I always raise an eyebrow when I see expectant mothers go on about how much they want a daughter instead of a son.
In a live chat with Washington Post advice columnist Carolyn Hax, one mom wrote about her wish to have girls-only time at the local playground. As she explained, she has a daughter, as do some of her friends. And together, the group has enjoyed getting together regularly at a nearby playground.
But their girls-only play date was disrupted by the presence of a Y chromosome:
Recently a mom of a boy brought her son to the playground at the same time we were there. I asked her (nicely, I thought) if she would mind leaving because we had wanted it to be a girls-only time. She refused and seemed angry at me.
The mom wrote in to ask Hax if there was a “better way” to phrase her request that the mom and son leave the playground. And she had a lot of sociocultural justifications to back up her desire to exile them:
This has been such a sweet time for moms and daughters and having a boy there is naturally going to change things. We live in a world where boys get everything and girls are left with the crumbs, and I would think this mom would realize that, but she seems to think her son is entitled to crash this girls-only time.
The mom conceded that she can’t legally prevent the mom and boy from going to a public park but wonders if there’s a way to “appeal to her better nature.”
“Goddess help us all,” Hax responded, quickly pointing out that the mom was in the wrong for trying to evict the boy from the playground: “Shooing off the mom and her boy was terrible. And justifying it as a cosmic correction? Wow.”
Hax criticized the mom for failing to remember that the boy “is a human being — not with privileged little man feelings, either, but with feelings, period.”
Not to mention the cruelty displayed toward the boy’s mom:
And the adult you shooed off is a mom, possessor of the same crumbs you’ve been fed, no? So don’t you think she would have just liked to hang with some fellow moms in the park while she was out with her child?
The advice Hax gave was that exclusive gatherings should be held on private property, and “if you’re going to accuse anyone of being ‘entitled,’ then ask yourself who was claiming possession of public space for her own purposes.”
The commenters agreed with Hax. The excluded mom, in particular, received a lot of sympathy from those who believed she’d been treated especially poorly by her fellow mothers.
One commenter wrote:
[P]arenting can sometimes be really hard and really lonely. This woman doesn’t know the boy’s mom or her situation. She may have needed that public playground playtime for her son to keep her sanity, she may have needed the company of other moms. Unfortunately those moms were mean girls. Unfortunately those moms will likely teach that to their daughters.
Nor were many persuaded by the argument that the girls “needed” the exclusive playground time and that the boy deserved to be excluded. As another commenter stated:
Punishing a boy for the sins of humankind is not feminism, it’s reverse discrimination. Even if it weren’t a public park which anyone should feel welcome to use, anytime, it’s just mean to exclude a child who doesn’t happen to fit the mold. Wouldn’t you be ashamed if the excluded kid were of a different skin color? Disabled? Different economic class? Among the advantages we can give our daughters, how about the gift of platonic friendships with boys? Some day they’ll be colleagues, bosses, subordinates, mates. Why not invite interaction while you still have some say about the terms of play?
Personally, I wonder if the political justification wasn’t just a way to cover up something a lot less sympathetic.
I was a boy mom for years until the birth of my youngest child (and only daughter). And I’ll admit that there’s a special connection between moms and daughters. I saw it in my own home growing up, and I see it now in my own house. That’s why I’m really glad I had my daughter last, when I could guard against its more problematic manifestations.
To put it bluntly, moms of boys can have their own issues, but they are less likely to fall into the cult of femininity I see with some moms who only have daughters. Most of the time, this kind of thing is benign. Even when it creeps into irritating, it generally results in nothing more harmful than a predilection for matching outfits and a certain cutesy-ness about “us girls.”
But there can come a point where it starts to get toxic. When men are framed as an irredeemable “other” and women as inherent possessors of virtue.
I’ve seen families start to separate along gender lines, and not because of the men. It’s the moms who separate themselves and their daughters to a point that it becomes exclusive. In doing so, they present a warped view of gender equality to that of the most stereotypical male chauvinist.
Boy moms rarely make it a point to have special “mom and sons only” time. And maybe we should do that more. But trying to rationalize your “no boys allowed” party with a lot of political justifications is harmful nonsense. It doesn’t help boys or girls learn to play together. It’s just cliquish, mean girl behavior held together by a feminist scrunchy.