As a young girl, I was reprimanded by older women for drawing or talking about imaginary monsters.

I received a magnetic fishing game from a male relative as a present. My sister and I used mini fishing rods to fish out the magnetic fish.

“The fish are dead now,” I said to my sister looking at the caught toy “fish”: “But look, they are zombie fish now coming back for revenge! Raaargh!”

Just then my mother opened the door and was horrified.

“Why are you playing such an awful game?” she asked: “Why can’t you play something nice?”

“Because we caught the fish, so the fish are now dead. The fish aren’t happy that we caught them because they drank some pollution in the lake, then they mutated into monsters, so now they’re angry zombie fish,” I said matter of factly: “Haven’t you ever heard of zombie fish Mum?

In the kids cartoon shows I used to watch, dead zombie fish plagued polluted waterways in America and were very annoying for anglers. An interesting eco-environmental social commentary.

My mother was not impressed. My mother said my name in a severe tone, escorted my sister out, then said that I should stay in my room and not have any tea because I had been “bad”.

When I saw my younger male cousin, he was allowed to shoot zombie people in video games and would even give me a running death count. Nobody batted an eyelid. Nobody ever told him off for shooting fictional zombies. My mother just told me to bring him lemonade and chocolate biscuits while he was “having fun”.

He thanked me for the refreshments. It was very important to keep his strength up during the zombie apocalypse, so that he could aim accurately at those undead people that kept popping up like ugly rotting jack-in-the-boxes. The biscuits must have helped because he managed to kill all the zombies in the game and he seemed quite proud of himself. I congratulated him on his achievement. We had a cheery lemonade toast while dying virtual zombies groaned in the background.

“For he’s a jolly good fellow for getting rid of all the zombies!” I cheered.

My younger male cousin said that shooting zombies was tiring work and that he felt a bit peckish, so I brought him more chocolate biscuits.

My mother wouldn’t have dared let me or my sister shoot fictional zombies. She wouldn’t even let us talk about them because they “weren’t nice”.

My Mum asked me once if I was drawing a “nice” picture. I said it was a picture of vampire bats and monsters with fangs. My mother looked terrified and told me off. This made me very upset because I had put a lot of artistic effort and feeling into those drawings. I was upset because I hadn’t meant to horrify my Mum, I just wanted to express my creativity.

How come boys are allowed to be interested monsters and zombies, while girls are told (especially by older women) to like “nice things” instead? When I was a young girl, I was encouraged to like baking cakes and sewing, not monsters or zombies. Female teachers at school said that little girls were made of “sugar and spice and all things nice”.

Why are boys encouraged to be aware of dangerous animals, death and pollution while girls aren’t?

Why do people (especially women) feel the need to protect girls’ “fragile, dainty” minds from “horrible things”?