Mom Kicks Boy Off Playground for 'Girl Time' & Doesn't Understand Why She's Wrong


boy playing on the playground

Playground rivalries are usually conflicts between two little kids who can't decide on the rules for freeze tag. But in a recent playground spat mentioned in the Washington Post, it's two moms -- not their kids -- who can't seem to find a jungle gym that's big enough for the both of them. A disgruntled mom recently wrote in to Carolyn Hax's advice column to ask why a boy mom is mad at her for kicking little boys off of a public playground because she wanted her daughter and her friends to have "girl time."

  • The mom wrote that she and some other girl moms have started having regular girls-only playdates at a local park every week.

    But during their most recent meet-up, a mom showed up with her little boy. The mom claims she asked the other mother "nicely (I thought)" if she and her son would leave so as not to disturb the sacred girls-only playtime ritual. Needless to say, the other mom got pissed, and now the advice-seeker wants to know how she can better kick strangers off the playground in the future.

    "This has been such a sweet time for moms and daughters and having a boy there is naturally going to change things," she wrote. "We live in a world where boys get everything and girls are left with the crumbs, and I would think this mom would realize that, but she seems to think her son is entitled to crash this girls-only time. I know I can't legally keep her from a public park, but can I appeal to her better nature?"

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  • As the mom of a boy and a girl, I'm all for some mom and daughter outings, but I almost spit out my coffee when I read this mom's clueless letter.

    Essentially, this mom wants to hang up a "no boys allowed" sign on a public park. And not only that, but she's decided that if her and her friend's daughters don't have sole access to the park during this time, that's somehow totally the same thing as the "crumbs" that grown women are left with out in the real world. Move over, wage gap; the real crisis here is this 3-year-old boy who wants to play on the public slide I claimed for my daughter.

    Give me a break.

  • Carolyn Hax seemed to see it the same way. "Can I appeal to -your- better nature?" she wrote. "Goddess help us all."

    Hax told the mom that shooing a little boy off the playground is "terrible," and that she can't use gender inequality at large to justify her decision to squash a little boy's play time. 

    "That kid is a human being -- not with privileged little man feelings, either, but with feelings, period," she wrote. "And the adult you shooed off is a mom, possessor of the same crumbs you've been fed, no? So don't you think she would have just liked to hang with some fellow moms in the park while she was out with her child? ... If you're going to have an exclusive gathering, then host it on private property. And if you're going to accuse anyone of being 'entitled,' then ask yourself who was claiming possession of public space for her own purposes."

  • The letter brought out feelings of rage among "boy moms" and "girl moms" alike.

  • Many pointed out that this mom's behavior is not feminism, it's mean girl drama.

  • Feminism is about wanting equality between the sexes in every way -- carving out space for girls and boys to ascend to the top of the ladder in any career, to have freedom of expression and the right to show their emotions, to not be beholden to rigid gender stereotypes. 

    As a woman, I understand why this mom might be pissed off and want to defend her daughter's place in the world. We all collectively just got done watching Christine Blasey Ford be publicly mocked for coming forward with sexual assault allegations. We're still struggling to get things such as equal pay or paid maternity leave, and our access to birth control and safe reproductive healthcare is constantly under attack. It is still very much a man's world. But you know what? That isn't my 4-year-old son's fault, and it's not the fault of any other little boy either.

  • We will not change the world by shutting boys out of it.

    It is not wrong for this mom to want some quality time with her daughter to bond, lift her up, and help her feel empowered. But it is wrong to plant an imaginary girls-only flag in the middle of a public park and tell a little kid he's not allowed to play there. It's wrong to stereotype a little boy and say he'll "change things" at playtime just because he happens to be male. It's wrong to exclude a mom and her son from playtime because they aren't just like you.

    As a feminist mom, the best thing I can do for my daughter and for all girls is to raise my son to value girls and women. And he learns to do that through witnessing and interacting with the girls and women in his life, and through seeing that they are no different than he is -- human beings who are complex and interesting, capable of all things, and deserving of respect. He has been best friends with a girl -- his sister -- since the first day of his life, and he has grown up believing that dolls have as much value as trucks, that Wonder Woman is as kickass as Batman, that his maleness in no way has any more value than someone's femaleness.

    I know my son has innate privileges that others do not, and that it's my job as his mother to check those privileges and to educate him and help him to become a voice for equality on all fronts. But a rogue mom banning boys from public playtime isn't fighting the patriarchy, protecting her daughter, or educating anyone. She's just drawing a literal line in the sand between boys and girls.