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Raising Daughters | Why Are We Taking the Feminine Out of Feminism?

I’ve never associated with the label “feminism.” Sure, I’m a strong, independent woman, but for some reason I just never considered that a label for me. I was raised by a southern family where I watched women take the more “traditional” roles. However, as a child I was never a very “girly girl,” preferring instead to mostly play with my brother and his trucks in the dusty driveway instead of dolls in the house. Yet, I had them both–trucks and dolls–and played with them both. I wore dresses … and my brother’s old t-shirts. There was never a question whether or not I was a female.

Later, I grew more “girly” and less “tom-boyish.” There was a time where I would spend an hour or so getting ready before school and then work–primping, polishing, pouring over outfits. None of this hindered my progress through school, college and into the workplace. I ended up being the youngest manager in the history of an East coast hospital and rapidly progressed through the ranks only to become a medical consultant at a very young age. And I did all of this wearing make-up and nail polish and dresses–probably pink. (Gasp!) And it never felt like a constraint to me. If people had issues with my femininity in the workplace, that was their problem and not mine.

Today, I wouldn’t say that I rank high on the “girly” scale–I wear little makeup and jewelry. Gone are the days of spending hours on hair (hahahahaa!) and dresses are mainly a thing of the past. However, I’m still a woman, a woman who, on occasion likes to be “girly.” Does that make me any more (or less) of a strong woman? That’s why it confuses me that we are raising our kids to be “gender neutral” today. What does that even mean, anyway?

According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, gender is defined as “the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex.”

Conversely, “feminine” is defined as “characteristic of or appropriate or unique to women.”

(Guess what? By the sheer fact that I have a vagina, that makes me feminine–at least according to this definition.)

A few months ago I saw a comment on a mommy forum where one woman was angry that she saw pink Lincoln Logs at the toy store. (PINK! How dare they?) I had to laugh because we have those pink Lincoln Logs … and they’re super cool. So what? Does this mean that I’m demeaning or oppressing my daughter?

We have raised two daughters and are currently raising one more in this house — all who fall at varying spots in the spectrum of feminine–one is über feminine, one is not feminine at all and the 3-year-old is a mix of both–and that’s fine with me. They are choosing who and how they want to be. I certainly don’t think that one is going to be more (or less) successful and adjusted because she is less feminine than the other.

At Halloween, we passed little girl after little girl dressed in beautiful princess and fairy costumes. My 3-year-old daughter was dressed as a pirate … because that’s what she chose. This was also the same daughter who came home that evening and put a pink and purple tulle tutu on over her pirate costume. And guess what? I was proud of both of her choices. I’m excited that she’s exercising her creativity and identity. She’s a girl — a girl who likes pretty things and girl who likes to play with cars and bugs. I’m certainly not going to fret over those kinds of things … especially when she picks toys like pink Lincoln Logs.


[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image]

[author_info]About the Author

Jacqueline Wilson is a prime parent, wife, published author and freelance writer who doesn’t understand why everything has to be so difficult these days.  She writes here, on Prime Parents’ Club, and on her observational parenting humor blog, Writer Ramblings on Parenting Imperfectly. Follow her on Twitter as @WritRams and on her Facebook page.[/author_info]


Along with being a contributor to, Jacqueline Wilson is: Appalachia Advocate~Supporter of Women~Writer~Accidental Pit Bull Advocate.


  1. Kimberly

    May 14, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    I am still laughing at the pirate with the tutu! When my kiddo was 4, he asked for a Barbie for Christmas. I thought his father’s head was going to explode. I shrugged and bought him a Barbie (we compromised on the one from Toy Story). He loved it and drove her around in GI Joe’s jeep. When I asked him why he wanted a Barbie, he said that all his army men needed a Mommy. *GRIN* Leave the kiddos be … expression is what is important!

  2. Genie

    January 4, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with pink Lincoln logs by themselves, but I do think it’s ridiculous that everything that was formerly for boys or “gender neutral” just has to be reproduced, but in pink, and now it’s for girls!! Girls can’t play with brown Lincoln logs? What would a boy’s friends say if he were to play with the pink ones? There’s nothing wrong with girls being feminine, and feminism is certainly not incompatible with femininity. I have a problem with the commercial aspects of “girlhood” in our society, with the huge push of pink princesses.

  3. Jeanne

    January 3, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    I totally agree with you. All four of my children were exposed to both “boy” and “girl” toys, simultaneoulsy. They all played with both. But it was interesting how they inevitably gravitated toward their “gender specific” toys with never, ever any probing or prodding – perhaps in an attemmpt to mimmic their mommy or daddy? I really don’t know, but I do know…and I truly believe- that if we just let them “be” they willl find their own way and they will eventually learn to soar.

    I must add that being an Indiana native and a bonefied, die hard John “Cougar” Mellencamp fan……I would have traded my little brother for a set of Lincoln Logs that I could have built a city full of “Little Pink Houses” out of. Our kids get ALL the cool stuff!

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