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New York Times blogger doesn't want her daughter to be nice

August 2, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
Should girls be raised to be nice?

The New York Times Motherlode blog had an entry this week from blogger Catherine Newman, who wrote that she doesn't want her 10-year-old daughter to be nice.

Her main argument seems to be that women are socialized to be "pleasers" and she wants her daughter to grow up to be strong-minded and independent and never give the time of day to "lame men" who might want to date rape her. She doesn't want her daughter to engage with the man at the hardware store who tells her how pretty she is. I imagine most mothers want similar things for their daughters and wouldn't want their girls to feel obliged to be "nice" to people who might take advantage of them or abuse them.

I also chuckled a bit at Newman's description of the outspoken girl, clearly a budding feminist, in a Target toy aisle, surrounded by pink for girls and blue for boys, saying "This is so stupid! Why don't they just put a penis or a vagina on every toy so you can be completely sure you're getting the right one?" The kid sounds feisty. She also has a very good point.

What I found a bit problematic was how proud Newman seems to be that the girl refuses to smile and has a "whatever" attitude when she meets strangers, apparently including the ones who just want to be friendly. She looks away from them, scowling. While I was probably guilty of being similarly rude on occasion to my mother's friends at the same age, both she and I considered it behavior to be corrected, not admired. I don't think the girl will get very far in job interviews or in personal relationships if she doesn't learn to hold her tongue on occasion and to smile, shake hands and make small talk with a new acquaintance.

Even more problematic, Newman apparently actively encourages "people pleaser" behavior in her 13-year-old son. "But, if I can speak frankly here, you really don't worry about boys being too nice, do you? He still has the power and privilege of masculinity on his side, so, as far as I'm concerned, the nicer the better," she writes. If she wants her son to be nice to people, I don't see why the girl shouldn't be similarly encouraged to do so. Good manners and social skills are important for both boys and girls.

The blog can be found at (—r=0#more-46434)

What do you think?


Article Comments



Aug-05-13 11:33 AM

To paraphrase Madeleine Albright, anyone who thinks the world would be better if only women were in charge has forgotten high school and mean girl cliques. Women can do as much damage as men, just in different ways. The world is better off when both men and women have a part in running things and balance each other out.

Plus, I don't associate the "b" word with a "compassionate women's world." If any Democrat truly holds that view, it's a throwback to the rather nauseating Victorian view of the "Angel of the House."


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