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Gender neutral parenting? - Page 4

post #61 of 97
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Originally Posted by CatsCradle View Post
Feminism is not limiting, it is freeing, in my opinion. Of course people are going to disagree with me, but if you are doing what you want to do, then feminism has worked.


DS may have an interesting time of it when he starts school. DH is the SAHD, I'm a WOHM. So usually it's Dad doing the cooking, and the laundry, and watching him. Mom goes to work, brings home a paycheck. We try to clean house and work on the garden together. I'm usually the "fix-it" person, and I clean the bathrooms. DH mows the lawn.

As for the social construction that Hildare mentioned... it is not deterministic. You may be interested in a recent report on <a href=http://www.aauw.org/research/whysofew.cfm>Why so Few</a> women in science, technology, engineering, and math fields. One of the things that makes a difference for science and math is teaching people (especially girls, but it doesn't hurt boys) that intelligence is not fixed, but is a skill that can grow with practice/exercise.

There are some of us who stick with the STEM bug even when it turns school into a nightmare with few friends. Two years at a women's high school helped considerably. I work as an engineer.
post #62 of 97
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Originally Posted by micah_mae_ View Post
Yeah that's pretty much it.

What I find baffling is people not telling their kid what gender they are, not letting them wear "gender oriented" clothes, etc.
We don't tell DS what his gender is because we know that gender is not determined by biology. It is a regular idea confronted in our house as one of our children's honourary Uncles is sometimes an Aunt. It would just make things confusing that you are either a boy or a girl and your parts determine that, when they see at least once a week someone who doesn't fit into that social construct.

DS does wear some very gender oriented clothes though, like shirt he had on today. It was very much a "girl's shirt".
post #63 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsCradle View Post
Well, it appears to me that "feminism" was good thing for you. Why? Because you had the right and ability to make the choices that you did, whether it be PhD career person or SAHM.

<snip>

Of course people are going to disagree with me, but if you are doing what you want to do, then feminism has worked.
And, if you're not doing what you want to, then has feminism not worked?

Feminism is, like most things, a mixed bag. Pretending it's been all positive for women does everybody a disservice. I know that I had more than one woman try to push me into things I didn't want to do (university for science, pure maths or engineering being the big one - while engineering had some appeal, and I loved math, I had less than no interest in going to university), because I "owed it" to all the women before me who had fought for my right to do that. How giving up my right to decide what I want from my life, to pay a debt to women who fought for my right to decide what I want from my life makes any sense is something I never understood, personally.

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I was born in the sixties and came of age in the seventies - the raging days of feminist thought and theory. I was never told that I needed to act like a man. I was told that I had the freedom to be who I wanted to be. That is what I got out of the feminist movement. Quite different, in my opinion, than being told what you have to do in order to be successful or happy. Sure, there were fringe groups (as in any movement) who called for the radical alteration of how women viewed themselves (i.e. act more like a man; sacrifice family for career), but I think that the true spirit of feminism was to free oneself from predetermined roles and inequalities (inability to own property; unequal pay; discrimination against people who are pregnant or who may become pregnant; unequal access to education; etc.). Feminism is not limiting, it is freeing, in my opinion.
re: the bolded part. I'm glad the feminist movement worked for you. I didn't get that out of it at all. I got that I owed it to "the sisterhood" to be what they thought I should be. As a "brain", I had no right whatsoever to "waste" myself on marriage and children, when I could be out there making waves in sciences and technology and/or climbing the corporate ladder. In fact, I was "letting all women down" by doing what I wanted with my life. Awesome.

I'm probably a feminist according to some definitions, but it's a label I'll never wear, because I associate it with a particular kind of...misogyny, interestingly enough.
post #64 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicianDad View Post
We don't tell DS what his gender is because we know that gender is not determined by biology. It is a regular idea confronted in our house as one of our children's honourary Uncles is sometimes an Aunt. It would just make things confusing that you are either a boy or a girl and your parts determine that, when they see at least once a week someone who doesn't fit into that social construct.

DS does wear some very gender oriented clothes though, like shirt he had on today. It was very much a "girl's shirt".
I assume you're talking about being transgender?
post #65 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Landover View Post
Why on earth would you want to parent you child in a gender neutral way... you child is *not* gender neutral? This to me is akin to the whole... "We aren't racist because we don't see color... well, not seeing someone's color, embracing it, and loving it is racist."

My kiddos are stamped as either male or female and I want to celebrate the differences between the two based on that. Afterall, we are NOT the same.
Agreed. I think people are thinking too hard about this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Landover View Post
My point is that the gender someone chooses to identify with is not socially constructed. It is hardwired (just as sex is). That is my sole point. Yes, gender roles are socially constructed... not gender identification. If you want to argue that you can parent or influence a person into being one gender or another then go right ahead.

I personally think that is a very slippery slope. That slope leads to the type of intolerant thinking where people believe that two homosexual men who adopt a little boy are going to turn him into a gay man...
Agreed again.
post #66 of 97
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And, if you're not doing what you want to, then has feminism not worked?
Straw man argument? I'm sorry, but you're trying to turn my statements into something that clearly they were not.

If you're not doing what you want to do, then you should look at why you're not doing it...don't blame the feminist movement (qualifier: "you" means the general reader and not specific individuals"). Blame the individuals who told you that happiness and success can only be achieved in one way or that you were wasting your life by not following through on certain pursuits.

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Pretending it's been all positive for women does everybody a disservice. I know that I had more than one woman try to push me into things I didn't want to do (university for science, pure maths or engineering being the big one - while engineering had some appeal, and I loved math, I had less than no interest in going to university), because I "owed it" to all the women before me who had fought for my right to do that. How giving up my right to decide what I want from my life, to pay a debt to women who fought for my right to decide what I want from my life makes any sense is something I never understood, personally.
Point is, your right to decide was in place and you exercised that right. There is a huge difference between being told or encouraged to undertake certain pursuits and being forced to take on a pre-determined role. No one is telling you: "No, you are not permitted to decide for yourself because you are female or that is not your given role in society." I have had zealots of varying ilk tell me that I'm going to hell or that if I really love my country I would do "xyz." I take them for what they are: zealots. They're a pain to deal with but ultimately I'm responsible for my own choices.

People tend to focus on whole "sacrifice family in the name of career" mantra instead of where we are now as opposed to where we were 25, 50 or 100 years ago. Point is, feminism (as a general, long-term movement dating back to voting rights days) elevated women from second-class status to individuals with full rights. There was a time in our very recent history when women couldn't vote, women couldn't sign contracts, women were made to leave places of work when they were married or became pregnant, women were paid substantially less than men for the same work (still an issue in some places), lack of flex-time in the workplace (if one had to work), absence of the right to initiate divorce, the lack of right to seek redress for domestic violence, and the list goes on and on. There was a time when women couldn't run in marathons in the US (as late as the 1970s) - not because they were physically incapable - but because they were women.

That is why I say now: feminism has allowed me to do what I want to do. I'm not talking about financial obligations or what not that may force you to do something you don't want to do. I'm talking about the freedom to make your own decisions with respect to how you manage your life. I'm not disputing that the feminist movement over the years has been fractured and diverse, but to call out one aspect of it and then criticize the entire movement is a bit much. Without it, most of us would not have the choice to make life decisions on our own. That's why when I hear people say something to the effect that "feminism did more harm than good," I have to ask, in what way? Because it has caused us to feel insecure in our choices or that we're ridiculed for our choices? I'll take the freedom of self-determination any day over fear of what other people might think of me and my choices. We are all benefiting from feminism whether we want to admit it or not, especially in terms of civil rights, which I think is at the real heart of feminism.

Sorry to get off-topic. I'm sorry, Stormbride, that you were surrounded by people who wanted to make you feel inferior for your choices. I count myself lucky to have not been subject to such ridicule. As someone who has considered herself a feminist for a long time, I would never dream of undermining another woman's decisions based what I think is best. I think a lot of my peers are on the same page.
post #67 of 97
The feminism discussion is a whole 'nother bag of worms, and I find it very interesting. I think that all me (and possibly StormBride, but I don't want to speak for her) are saying is that there are downsides to all things - even the ones that generally society sees as good. Do I think that the movement should not have happened, nope. Do I think that the pendulum swung too far in an extreme direction, sometimes yes. That is the only point. I was using it as an example of how things can be taken too far.

Quote:
We don't tell DS what his gender is because we know that gender is not determined by biology. It is a regular idea confronted in our house as one of our children's honourary Uncles is sometimes an Aunt. It would just make things confusing that you are either a boy or a girl and your parts determine that, when they see at least once a week someone who doesn't fit into that social construct.
Here is what I honestly don't understand... I see it being said that you are going to secret away the concept of your son's gender from him because you don't want to influence or confuse him. That argument is steeped in the idea that you CAN change or influence a person's gender identification (as you said it is not biological).

By indicating that your words (and for heaven's sake a shirt) can so easily influence a person into gender identification, you are making the argument for all of the crazies who try to influence their kiddos into *not* being a certain gender. By this logic, if my DS tells me later in life that he feels more feminine than male, all I need to do is change his wardrobe and buy him some football pads? Do you think that all of the dinosaur shirts or references to being a "man's man" could have made your DS's uncle into a man's man? My guess is no... so why do you think that simply calling your son a boy, dressing him in clothes that are generally for boys, and allowing him to follow his interests will turn him into anything other then what he is going to be?

I am not at all trying to be obtuse, but it seems to me you are throwing yourself into the camp of folks saying that we can change (or influence) a person's gender based on what we do... afterall, you continue to indicate that gender is not based on a biological entity.

I truly believe that the sex we are, and the gender we are, are stamped onto us and nothing we can do will change that. We can accept who our children are when they give us clear indications that there may be something that is not "matching up" but being purposefully ambiguous seems to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Lastly, and I am not trying to offend, but your sole purpose seems to be to prevent confusion or feelings of oddity. I have just got to say that I think that not openly talking to your kiddo about the fact that he is a boy, instead choosing to be vague and ambiguous, has got to be way more confusing. If your son lived with you in a bubble, maybe not. But he does not, he lives in a society with cultural norms and expectations. Instead, I have chosen to fully disclose to my son that he is male (gasp). I dress him in shirts that don such terrible things has 'homerun hitter' and 'tough as nails' all the while not paying much attention to it all. If he comes to me one day and says he doesn't feel at home in his body then I will support him and love him.

I just don't think that much of anything I do will change how he feels in his own body. People are who they are and I plan to let me son be just that. But I do not think that I need to be ambiguous, secretive, or confusing in order for him to discover who he is.
post #68 of 97
Quote:
The feminism discussion is a whole 'nother bag of worms, and I find it very interesting. I think that all me (and possibly StormBride, but I don't want to speak for her) are saying is that there are downsides to all things - even the ones that generally society sees as good. Do I think that the movement should not have happened, nope. Do I think that the pendulum swung too far in an extreme direction, sometimes yes. That is the only point. I was using it as an example of how things can be taken too far.
Thanks for the clarification. I don't disagree with either you or Stormbride that there are negatives (I recognize that), but there is a lot of chatter out there that feminism supposedly destroyed the "family" or was a detriment to women, when there are so many positive aspects of it that we take for granted. It just makes me bristle because I think it is a convenient scapegoat for more complex problems and issues in our society.

Okay, I won't say anymore. The whole "gender" discussion seems intertwined with this but I'm sorry I got off topic.
post #69 of 97
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We don't tell DS what his gender is because we know that gender is not determined by biology.
I have known two people who are transgendered (both went from male to female through surgery). Both women knew from a very young age that there was something "wrong" with how they felt and what equipment they had. So I do get your point here.

For these two individulas their gender clearly was different from their physical appearance.

Where you lose me is the idea that had their parents been ambiguous about their gender they would somehow have been less confused. Not the case at all. Both men could have grown up wearing nothing but jock straps and muscle tees and they would still have been women waiting to get out. Biologically they were born women. Physically they weren't.

So maybe you mean that the equipment we have doesn't always determine our gender.
post #70 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by betsyj View Post
I have known two people who are transgendered (both went from male to female through surgery). Both women knew from a very young age that there was something "wrong" with how they felt and what equipment they had. So I do get your point here.

For these two individulas their gender clearly was different from their physical appearance.

Where you lose me is the idea that had their parents been ambiguous about their gender they would somehow have been less confused. Not the case at all. Both men could have grown up wearing nothing but jock straps and muscle tees and they would still have been women waiting to get out. Biologically they were born women. Physically they weren't.

So maybe you mean that the equipment we have doesn't always determine our gender.
Exactly, if someone is transgendered, they're going to be that way regardless of how they were parented.
But I guess if other parents find this to be important enough to worry about, to each their own.
post #71 of 97
Never mind...this is one area where I'm either truly out of step with almost everybody, or simply totally unable to express myself clearly.
post #72 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by micah_mae_ View Post
Exactly, if someone is transgendered, they're going to be that way regardless of how they were parented.
But I guess if other parents find this to be important enough to worry about, to each their own.
That's why we don't label DS based on his equipment. It has nothing to do with preventing or propagating it. It has to do with him learning early on that how he feels is more important then what society tells him he is. That dressing like a girl doesn't make you a girl and having a penis doesn't make you a boy.

I would say that knowing why there is a discomfort with one's physical self and knowing that it is normal to be that way is emotionally more helpful than growing up being told you're a boy when you don't feel like a boy.

DS is probably not transgendered, but if he is he deserves the right to know that at least with in his family he has the final say in what gender he is.
post #73 of 97
Anyone read Why Gender Matters by Leonard Sax?

The guy lost me about 2/3 the way through when he proposed scheduling bf babies and advocating corporal punishment (even going so far as to say it was necessary to effectively parent a boy).

It makes me question his credibility because of those sentiments, but up until that point I thought he really made tons of sense. It would allow for the notion that equipment doesn't make gender (even though it never comes out to say that).

Very interesting read. Just thought I'd throw that out there.
post #74 of 97
So I think the crux of the issue is, is gender merely a societal construct or is it biological?
post #75 of 97
What makes a gender is a social construct. What tells us our gender is a psychological/emotional/cognitive identification. Sex is biological.
post #76 of 97
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What makes a gender is a social construct.
Sure. But it isn't 100% a social construct. There are real differences that exist.
post #77 of 97
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Originally Posted by betsyj View Post
Sure. But it isn't 100% a social construct. There are real differences that exist.
Are there? Are there things that are only present in one gender and never in the other? Or are they just things you are more likely to see in one gender over the other because it's encouraged?
post #78 of 97
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Originally Posted by MusicianDad View Post
Are there? Are there things that are only present in one gender and never in the other? Or are they just things you are more likely to see in one gender over the other because it's encouraged?
I do believe so that there are differences between the genders, and that sex and gender are fundamentally linked. I'm having a hard time finding the words to explain how I understand it though in purely logical terms without getting into theology somewhat...so I hope others can jump in. In the meantime, I'm doing some research.
post #79 of 97
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Originally Posted by betsyj View Post
Both men could have grown up wearing nothing but jock straps and muscle tees and they would still have been women waiting to get out. Biologically they were born women. Physically they weren't.
Yes, but by not sending the message the muscle tees and trucks are appropriate (and dresses and dolls are not), we may be able to spare a lot of anguish. If you aren't telling your child, just because he has a penis- "You are a boy! This is what boys do!", that child will hopefully be a least a little bit less distressed if it so happens that 'he' is really "she".
post #80 of 97
I have two boys and two girls. I try to treat them the same in that I try to meet their individual needs and not base my response on their gender.
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