Mark Frauenfelder and his wife, Carla Sinclair, are extremely dedicated and devoted parents to their two daughters. Raising girls comes with its own set of worries and obstacles, but Mark and Carla taught them to be fiercely independent and creative. So that's why the TSA debacle is completely maddening and nonsensical. Thankfully, Mark is speaking up and the public's embrace of righting this wrong is having a much bigger effect. This is a conversation that needs to be had.
For the Cliff's Notes version of the events, a TSA employee allegedly made a completely inappropriate comment to Mark and Clara's daughter about her clothing choice. Saying that the clothing was appropriate for a teenage girl is completely besides the point.
Girls are consistently being bombarded with confusing messages from the public. It wasn't that long ago that JC Penney was selling t-shirts with the slogan "I'm too pretty to do homework, so my brother has to do it for me." Liz Gumbinner, a blogger and mother, wrote:
As a mother of two girls, I find it something I have to battle every day. I have to work so so hard to make sure they know that the messages in the media are not always right. I have to explain away t-shirts that say things like "future gold digger." Soon, I will have to explain why song lyrics refer to women as bitches and hos.
This was written in 2011 and it seems that we haven't come very far in two years.
I asked Mark to offer advice to parents raising girls in this confusing time. How do we focus on the fact that NASA's graduating class of astronauts is, for the first time in history, comprised of an exactly equal number of men and women? That is surely astounding.
My advice for raising daughters is to spend time with them doing things you both enjoy. My 10-year-old daughter and I started a Dungeons and Dragons game with other parents and daughters that we go to twice a month at Meltdown Comics in LA. And my 15-year-old daughter and I frequently go to Little Tokyo to shop and eat at the conveyor belt sushi place. The trick is finding activities that your are both interested in doing, otherwise it will feel like work.
His advice is surprisingly non-gender, and that's the point. His 15-year-old likes to explore Little Tokyo and digs conveyor belt sushi. His 10-year-old is a D&D lover. We don't have to parent within specified boundaries dictated by people who are too afraid to think outside of the box. So, buy your daughter a space shuttle toy and gasp, make sure it's not pink. My favorite toy as a kid was my GI Joe. What about Barbies, you ask? Oh, I used to cut their hair and flush the heads down the toilet. But, it seems that I turned out OK. And you know what? So will Mark and Carla's daughters, I'm sure of it.