Warning: If TMI isn’t your thing, read a different blog post…
Girls are slightly different from boys. After 23 years of parenting, this is the most eloquent and insightful conclusion I can draw. My hope going into this whole parenting thing was that the secrets of human behavior would be revealed to me, not unlike a sociologist immersed in a decades-long observational study. I’d experience first hand the concept of Nature vs. Nurture, Fate vs. Free Will, and how the mighty, mighty hammer of testosterone wields its ungodly power.
Why only testosterone? Because as it turns out, I am the fourth generation of all-male progeny down my line of the family. Of course I’d have a son. Of course. And I did, and he’s amazing, and as I hoped, through him I gained tremendous insight as to why we behave like we do. In my Mail-Order-Scientist-Diploma opinion, it’s mostly because of genetics. Seriously, we’re like 90% genetically pre-determined. I love the arts and I think farting is funny. So does my son. Boom. It’s obviously in our DNA.
When I decided, shortly before plunging into Ill-Fated Marriage #2, that I wanted more kids, I prayed for girls. My friends with teenage girls told me this was like praying to be sent to the 4th Circle of Hell, but I wanted it anyway. Badly. Imagine gaining insight to the machinations of the female psyche? How amazing would that be?
My first thought was that the experience would probably be completely different than raising boys. Specifically, there’d be no way girls would think farting is funny, because women simply don’t think that way. I have not had a wife/girlfriend/horrifying date who thought it was amusing in the least when I sounded the Butt Trumpet. That had to be a man-gene thing, and I would need to monitor this behavior around my sweet, precious, non-toxic girls.
Or…was I looking at this all wrong? What if I was being passively sexist right out of the gate? Is there really much of a stretch between the gender archetype of, “Girls like to play with dolls” and, “Girls don’t think farts are funny?” Was I projecting an ugly stereotype? Limiting my daughters’ feminine self-determination?
There was only one way to find out.
From the earliest days of girl-raising, the rule around the Taylor house became, “Say ‘excuse me’ after you fart, otherwise just let ‘er rip.” As the girls got older, a caveat was added to the rule: “Do this outside the house at your own risk.” With this as the only guideline, my girls now believe farting is hilarious. The younger one, just seven now, has a 120-decibel ass cannon that exudes a gas so noxious it disintegrates all living matter in a ten-yard radius and would have been outlawed by The League of Nations following World War I. She belly-laughs every single time she pulls the trigger. The older one, nine now, is starting to practice being cool, so it’s funny when she does it, but not when I do it.
I also made the conscious decision to avail my children to the full lexicon of bathroom language: deal a deuce, plop a Johnny, Peeking Moose and brown-pavement landing strip are all part of their vocabulary. But we try not to swear. Kinda weird, all things considered, but it’s true.
At first, I wasn’t sure if this girl-boy parallel supported the Nature over Nurture argument. It could be that my daughters simply took cues from me, and since dad thinks it’s funny, it must be funny. But then I wondered if it’s sexist to conclude that boys think farting is funny because boys will be boys (Nature), but girls think it’s funny because a man taught them that it’s funny? (gender-biased Nurture). And if that’s the case, how much of this stereotyping am I still doing unconsciously?
When congress passed the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote, it created a defining line: “That is sexism/This is not.” By including women in the democratic process, the amendment changed people’s actions and behaviors, but not necessarily their attitudes and beliefs: “Alright, ladies, you can leave the kitchen long enough to go vote.” Changing a person’s beliefs requires generational-caliber paradigm shifting. Beliefs are taught. Attitudes are learned.
I’m not saying that Rose McGowan needs to show up on my doorstep with a box of Twinkies and a Thank You Note because I created a space for self-determination vis a vis farting. In fact, the next knock on my door will probably be from Child Protective Services. None the less, I hold out hope for a future where my daughter, then a 41-year-old CEO at MegaCorp, busts into the Board Room and shouts, “Which one of you Neanderthals left a Wrinkle-Neck Brown Trout floating in the Executive Washroom?”
That would be parenting success.
Admittedly, I felt sheepish reviewing a wine in the “farting post.” There’s probably not a winery in the world that wants that particular distinction. So let me try to spin this the best way I can. Changing Attitudes About Gender Stereotypes Pairs With: The 2016 Girard “GSM” Red Wine Blend, Napa Valley.
GSM blends – grenache, syrah and mourvèdre – are native to the southern Rhone region of France, where dozens of wineries cast their creative magic by blending these three varietals. Girard is one of the few wineries in Napa that does the same thing using exclusively Napa Valley fruit, which has a reputation for being much more powerful than its Rhone-based sisters. Add to this the fact that The grenache and mourvèdre were sourced from the Juliana Vineyard on the backside of Howell Mountain, and you’re looking at potentially an entirely different style of GSM.
And though the style may be different, the substance is all there, from the barnyard funk of the syrah to the luscious berry fruit of the grenache to the bright acidity of the mourvèdre. I would say that this wine will integrate even further in about three years, but it’s absolutely drinkable now, and though not quite priced for everyday drinking at $40, I’ve had more expensive Chateauneuf Du Pape that weren’t nearly as delicious.