Gender reassignment

9 April 2016

9:00 AM

9 April 2016

9:00 AM

In Competition No. 2942 you were invited to submit a rhyme incorporating the lines ‘What are little girls made of?’ and ‘What are little boys made of?’ This challenge was a potential minefield, given how high feelings run nowadays when it comes to the thorny issue of gender identity. Still, those brave souls that took the plunge produced a witty and well judged entry. I especially admired Carolyn Thomas-Coxhead’s nifty Tom Lehrer-inspired submission; Nicholas Stone, Martin Parker and George Simmers also shone. The winners earn £25, except W.J. Webster, who nabs £30.

What are little girls made of
Is a question that’s better not put:
Answer only if you’re not afraid of
Finding your mouth full of foot.
Don’t offer parts pretty or gentle
Or tender, protective and caring:
They’re judged to imply ornamental
Or being confined to child-bearing.
What are little boys made of
Is equally parlous to hazard;
The traits there’s a usual parade of
Will have you fall flat on your mazzard.
There can’t be a typical boy
As there can’t be a typical girl.
We need other terms to deploy
When faced with this chromosome whirl.
W.J. Webster
What are little girls made of?
Your daughter
Is fifty per cent water.
What are little boys made of?
Your son’s H20
Is not quite so low:
His water content
Is sixty per cent.
Less adipose tissue —
That is the issue.
(But being wetter
Does not make him better.)
John Priestland
What are little girls made of, you may ask,
why are they always ready for the task?
They’re made of earth and grit for wheeler dealings
and concrete heads for breaking through glass ceilings.
Six arms for juggling cooking, work and kids
while keeping up with current market bids,
cross-country training, classes for Pilates,
with tampon tax and a hectic round of parties.
What are little boys made of? What’s in store?
Testosterone’s not valued any more;
they once considered housework infra dig,
now fear the label ‘chauvinistic pig’.
For soon the plan’s to make them with a womb;
they’ll cope with stretch marks and post-natal gloom
and morning sickness — glad to make the swap
to free up all the women at the top.
Sylvia Fairley
We’d eaten all our planet, fled the rubble
In search of food to fill our famished chops.
We conquered Earth with very little trouble,
And taught the humans how to grow our crops.
Like us, our leader earnestly believes
In keeping to a vegetarian diet,
But sometimes, bored with roots and shoots and leaves,
If something new turns up, he’s keen to try it.
He asked us ‘What are little girls made of?’
We told him ‘Bone and skin and blood and flesh.’
‘I see. And what are little boys made of?’
‘They’re pretty much the same when young and fresh.’
‘Mmm … sounds quite tasty, with a bit of crunch —
Run out and get a couple for my lunch.’
Brian Allgar
‘What are little girls made of?’ were the words
I googled neatly. Wiki offered me
Episode Seven of Star Trek (and the cast
from ’66), a detailed summary,
production notes, the chance to watch again,
a forum for the fans, discussions, threads.
Then, further down, some nursery rhyme-based links.
This was for lively brains and clever heads.
Then, for equality, I googled chaps:
‘What are little boys made of?’ Spell-checked, found
websites for nursery rhymes and nothing more.
It seems that boys stay dumb, numb, pre-school bound,
much as expected; not much going on,
like slugs and snails, end-bits of manky pups.
No brain-work, stretched imaginations, here;
nothing to show potential as grown-ups.
D.A. Prince

What are little girls made of?
That’s not something you can ask today,
When gender neutrality rules, OK,
And there’s all that transgender stuff anyway
So it would actually be hard to say
Unless you’re only talking DNA,
In which case it just means
That little girls probably have superior genes.
What are little boys made of?
Now here the feminist lobby might
Feel that the nursery-rhyme sheds a light,
And that snails and dogs’ rear-ends seem about right
For the masculine make-up which leads men to fight,
Become rapists, oppressors, and beasts of the night,
Which can all be traced home
To that Y-chromosome.
Brian Murdoch


No. 2945: Exit strategy

You are invited to suggest remarks (as many as you like but totalling not more than 150 words) guaranteed to get rid of a guest who is outstaying his or her welcome. Please email entries to by midday on 20 April.

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