“Ponies” by Kij Johnson

The lovely Jodi Cleghorn posted a link on her blog today to a story titled Ponies. I read it and was too moved to not share it. I have two daughters and that story to me encapsulates the essence of growing up female in our increasingly gendered society. I remember when I was a kid (haha I sound a bit like an old fogey) there was much less distinction between “girl’s toys” and “boy’s toys” than there is now. Sure, there were Barbies and My Little Ponies and dolls and pink things, but the extent to which the lines have been drawn in recent years is quite ridiculous. Pink versions of gender neutral products adorn shelves in not only toy stores, but also garden shops (pink gardening tools? Really?), auto shops and more. Little girls are praised for their appearance, their conformity to the pink sparkly princess model. And girls, such social creatures, desperately want to be accepted by their peers. They cut off little pieces of themselves to fit in and be one of the group.

I was a bit of a social moron as a child and never figured out how to play the girly game, and when I had my first daughter I swore I would not force her into the mould society expects for our girls. Because as much as that story is a work of fiction, it is also very close to the tragic truth of female childhood. If you have children (and yes, even if you have sons) you should read the story.

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