Courtesy of Ambrosia Brody

Joking That We’ll Have to 'Keep The Boys Away' Is Everything Wrong With The Patriarchy

By
Share
Ad failed to load

People say a lot of dumb things when you have a kid. I'm used to mindless small talk like "what a cute boy!" (when your baby is dressed in blue) and "they have your face!" (on a newborn), but nothing annoys me more than the joke I'll hear after someone meets our daughters: “You better buy a gun.” Or even worse, "You’ll have to keep the boys away!” delivered with a creepy wink. The more I think about it, this joke is everything wrong with our ideas about gender roles in society.

Before becoming parents, I suppose I just ignored these throwback comments. But then we had two amazing little girls and found that we are feminist parents who are definitely not laughing. What even is the joke — that my daughters are under threat? That my husband needs to protect his property? That... guns haha something something?

As a feminist and mom, I'm hyperaware of every sexist remark thrown at my daughters on a daily basis, and I do not want gender roles to be pushed on them. The expectations that the media and society place on girls have long-lasting effects on children. I want something better for my family.

Ad failed to load
Courtesy of Ambrosia Brody

Surprising, these comments are usually made by fellow millennial fathers with young daughters. Maybe they simply see it as a joke and a fun way to compliment my girls (thanks?), but it’s really not funny. That this sexist joke is often made in front of my daughters only annoys me more. You’re telling my daughters that being pretty is what makes boys like them — not their humor, or creativity or ability to talk their way out of any situation.

You're telling them that they need to be protected when these hypothetical boys come around.

Ad failed to load

Worse, you're teaching boys to believe that they aren't responsible for their actions.

From a young age, my girls have been (and continue to be) taught consent and how to protect themselves. We teach them to think for themselves and listen to their gut in certain situations, even if that means pushing a little boy away when he comes in for a hug. This joke goes against everything I teach my kids.

Courtesy of Ambrosia Brody
Ad failed to load

Having girls has made me aware of how many subtly sexist comments are thrown my daughters’ way, from compliments on their looks to being told how to dress. They are praised for being “cute,” “pretty,” and “adorable,” and for how they dress. Girls face sexism everyday. From being catcalled to being labeled tomboys or girly girls, I can’t keep track of how many people have assured me that it’s okay our daughter doesn’t like soccer because, you know, she’s “all girl.” What does that even mean?

And ingraining these stereotypes in our boys is just as harmful. Excusing disrespectful behavior as “boys being boys” removes responsibility for their actions and tells girls that guys have a right to act a certain way. Joking that dads need to “keep the boys away” not only tells our girls that they need protection but also that boys are incapable of controlling themselves and need a man to put them in their place. This mindset filters all the way up through our society.

Ad failed to load

Telling little girls that they need to be protected by their fathers teaches them that society expects them to ignore their own judgment and let their fathers handle situations with boys for them. Nope nope nope.

I want my girls to learn from their father that their voice matters and that they have every right to tell a boy "yes" or "no." Crucially, they should learn that these statements need to be respected. The stereotype of the little girl needing to be saved by her strong, protective father does little to help build our girls' confidence to standup for themselves in uncomfortable situations.

Our daughters are being raised with the understanding that girls can do anything boys can do (except pee standing up without making a huge mess) and vice versa. The lessons that they do not have to conform to societal expectations of  stereotypical “girl” behavior is something we try to discuss, demonstrate or teach our daughters every day. Together with my feminist husband, we are trying to do better by our girls by fighting for equality, and challenging annoying and sexist jokes no matter how harmless or funny they may appear to be.

Ad failed to load

Watch Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Check out the entire Romper's Doula Diaries series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

21 Moms Share The Most Surprising Part About Having A C-Section

Honestly, I don't think we, as a culture, talk about C-sections nearly enough, especially considering so many mothers experience them. And because of a number of factors, the little we do talk about it always seems to be a familiar narrative: "It's n…
By Jamie Kenney

13 Yummy Instant Pot Recipes To Make Under 30 Minutes

A Instant Pot seems to be the must-have appliance in every kitchen these days. If you are anything like me and never knew the beauty of a Instant Pot, you are about to have your life changed. Basically, you put some ingredients into a pot, set the te…
By Kristin Manna

9 Things The First Six Months Of Motherhood Will Teach You About Your Baby

Personally, the first six months of motherhood was a mixed bag. I learned some harsh lessons about myself that made taking care of my baby seem overwhelming. For example, I was clueless, and no amount of research could help me feel like anything but …
By Steph Montgomery

These Photos Of North West Then & Now Will Take You On A Sweet Trip Down Memory Lane

When Kim Kardashian welcomed her first daughter, North West, with her husband, Kanye West, in 2013, her whole life was changed. The social media and reality TV star became a mom for the first time and her Instagram presence took a very adorable turn.…
By Casey Suglia

11 Photos You *Must* Take During The Last Days Of Your Pregnancy

During my first pregnancy, I took a photo each week to document my growing belly. I stopped around 36 weeks, though. I hated how I looked in those pictures, and didn't think I'd want to relive those moments. I was wrong. My second pregnancy was a dum…
By Steph Montgomery

This Is What It Means If Your Pregnancy Test Changes Overnight

The time between when a woman suspects she might be pregnant and when it is confirmed for sure is the longest of her life. Regardless of whether you are hoping for a positive or a negative result, the odds are good that you are sweating bullets when …
By Shannon Evans

6 Red Flags To Definitely Look Out For After Your Baby Falls

The first time my infant son tried to take a few steps, he tumbled and bumped his head on the coffee table. My blood turned to ice in my veins and I froze. There truly isn't anything quite like the feeling a parent gets when their little one gets hur…
By Sarah Bunton

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

This Woman Thought She Had An Eyelash Stuck In Her Eye. Then It Moved.

I'm not a person who is easily icked out. As a kid, I collected bugs and thought I was going to be an entomologist and asked Santa Claus for ant farms and nets to catch bees. I'm still super curious about anything that flies and crawls, which might s…
By Karen Fratti

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

8 "Mistakes" I'm Glad I Made During My First Pregnancy

As an adult, I've learned you never really stop hating being told what to do. When I was pregnant I was getting instructions at every turn, from doctors, relatives, and complete strangers on the subway. I would nod and smile but then go about making …
By Liza Wyles

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack