Last year, I read an essay on the Huffington Post by Lisa Bloom called “How to Talk to Little Girls”. The essay itself is sort of lovely as Bloom describes a dinner party at which she talked with the hosts’ daughter, stubbornly avoiding the topics of clothing or anything else stereotypically girlie. Yes, that is good. And I appreciate Brown pointing out how people tend to assume little girls just want to hear their dresses are pretty, etc.
But, as Tina Fey would say, it feels like Bloom just wants “to be beautiful at [us]” (Bossypants). I’m not sure I’m prepared to congratulate someone just for reading a book with a child and not calling her pretty. That shouldn’t be an accomplishment (sort of Bloom’s point).
Talking to little girls about something other than prettiness and clothes should not be this hard. Period. I know that our culture perpetuates the myth that girls are only interested in being princesses, but Bloom’s article also emphasizes that she is supposed to be a wonderful role model. Oh, you’re interested in books? ME TOO. That’s so good!
Why not just talk to girls without it having to be a moment in which we model what appropriately intelligent and feminist femininity is? Why not just be yourself? Why not give girls more credit for being cool on their own? And what if the girl is the next Anna Wintour?
So, I loved Liz Lemon’s playdate with Cat (pictured above) on this week’s “Murphy Brown Lied to Us” episode of 30 Rock. Yes, the episode explicitly takes up another women’s issue: working motherhood, especially after 40. But the conversation between Cat and Liz is so great because Liz–who often thinks she is the model feminist (Read Feminism, Post Feminism, Liz Lemonism for more)–doesn’t try to prove anything to Cat. She’s being herself without pretense and letting the kid be herself too. And that self is adorable and funny and sma-art. And other people liked her as well (EW).
My favorite parts:
Cat: “It’s take your daughter to work day, which I object to on feminist grounds.”
Liz: “So what have you learned today?”
Cat: “That people who talk the most in meetings often know the least.”
Kevin: “She sat in on two meetings with me. I crushed it.”
On Kevin’s rope bracelet: “People assume I gave it to him, but I’m like ‘you’re not pinning that on me.'”
(The “knowing child” is a whole other trope, but Cat might be too sweet to qualify.)