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Forcing gender roles on young children - Page 6

post #101 of 255
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Quote:
Do you disagree that boys and girls are different? Do you think they are the same? Am I lying about the little boy raised as a girl, programmed as a girl, whose boy personality prevailed? That story is true; he is a living example that boys and girls are different, that gender identity is programmed from birth. Go google it; the child eventually shot himself because the doctor kept proclaiming the experiment a success
His name is David Riemer, born Bruce, then raised as Brenda when his penis was destroyed by an electrocautery device during a circumcision at the age of eight months for "phimosis." He committed suicide after years of depression and suicide attempts after his twin brother was killed in a car accident.
post #102 of 255
Yep, that's him. He committed suicide after his brother's death by shooting himself in the head. However, in an earlier interview, he said something to this effect "What do I have to do to make hiim stop? What is it going to take? Do I have to shoot myself in the head?" in reference to the doctor. This man had severe emotional trauma because of what he went through as a child and that is probably what ultimately led to his suicide. Many people lose their loved ones, but not everyone commits suicide. He was depressed LONG before his brother died, even when he was a child because he didn't fit in. He wanted to be a boy; he was one...and they wanted him to be a girl, so he fit in nowhere. That is a problem; forcing gender roles on children is a problem, especially if we are encouraging them to fight who they are. I just disagree that buying boy toys for boys and girl toys for girls is doing that, unless you KNOW your little boy would rather be playing with Disney princesses and buy him the boy stuff instead to try and encourage him not to.

I agree that most boys aren't "totally boy" in terms of how our society thinks of boys, and the same is true of girls. I don't think, however, that buying a child cars because that's what he likes is the same as programming him to be a boy in terms of what our culture thinks of boys as being. Rather than buy gender neutral stuff, I buy my son whatever I see that I, in my knowledge of him, think he'll enjoy. That may be a fairy wand or a big red ball, a shiny tiara or a monster truck. There are differences betwen boys or girls, but no child is "all boy" or "all girl" in terms of expectations. Some girls love soccer, and some boys love dress up.

We can let them chose without pushing them away from something because it is seen as a cultural norm for feminine behavior. I'm not going to NOT buy my son trucks because it's cultures way of brainwashing him to be a big tough man. I'm not going to NOT let my daughter wear dresses for the same sort of reason. I'm going to let them wear and play with what they want, rather than take away 'gender specific' toys because I'm afraid it might influence their interests and behaviors. However, the point I'm trying to make is that toy companies probably don't care about gender roles. They make toys for specific genders because that's what those kids are most likely to like and the parents most likely to buy. Some parents I'm sure buy their kids big monster trucks so they'll be big tough men, but the toy companies manufacture them because that's what, in general, little boys like. There are girls who like to crash trucks, too, but there are probably a lot more boys out there like that. My brother had all kinds of boy toys and toy guns and so on, and while I used to play with them now and again for fun, I personally enjoyed my barbie and stuff animal soap operas a lot more. That's just me though.

For the record, I refrain from telling my son that "x" is for boys and "y" is for girls, and I don't allow others to do so either. There are some things I do see as 'forcing gender roles on young children,' and some things I don't. I really think it depends on the circumstances and your intent. If you're buying your barbie-loving little boy a bunch of tonka trucks, that's forcing gender roles on him. If you're buying your tonka truck-loving little boy a tonka truck, that's not. I just want everyone to think before they judge someone as 'forcing gender roles on young children' and understand that might not be their goal. Maybe their son just likes blue. Maybe he just likes cars. Like mine.

If we're going to assume that having them play with certain toys influences their interests, behavior, and gender identity, then I have to assume I am confusing the crap out of my son by letting hiim play with toys associated with both roles.
post #103 of 255
Isn't there a difference between cultural or marketing gender stereotypes and actual gender/sexuality?

You can have a girl that plays with all of the stereotypical toys that girls are supposed to want who can still not act like the girl gender stereotype. She could turn out to be a mathemtician lesbian who is not wilting and doesn't giggle madly when boys are around. I sort of feel that regardless of how I dress my dd or what toys I give her if she's a lesbian I can't stop that nor can I make her one by giving her certain toys or dressing her a certain way. Or even make her one by playing the Indigo Girls all of the time. (No, DH, really you can't)

I think the far greater danger as a parent is making sure you don't fall into stereotypes if you do have a dd who prefers to play with dolls and wear pink. Then you have to make sure she doesn't feel that she can't be good at math or she needs a boyfriend to be whole. Or a son that wants to play with trucks and wear dinosaur t-shirts. Then you have to make sure that it's ok if he's in touch with his emotions and wants to do ballet. Or whatever.

I've seen parents go to the extreme with gender neutral like giving their son a traditionally girls name and dressing him in dresses. Although technically I wouldn't call that gender neutral. But I don't see how that does anything but reinforce stereotypes. If you force your dd to not play with dolls or wear pink what are you really saying with that? Or if you force your ds to play with dolls and not play with trucks? It's really no better than forcing your ds to not like dolls or your dd to wear pink. To me, the goal should really be that all options are open.
post #104 of 255
Everyone I knew told me that I would "give up" my ideas about raising kids without excessive gender-role-pushing once I had kids. "Oh, I thought that too, and then I had my boy and he just loved cars, so I was proved wrong..." "I thought that too, and then I had my girl and she just went crazy for princesses and pink, so I knew there was truth to it..."

To which I say: have you no awareness of the power of marketing, television, and peers? Do you really believe that boys have a biological preference for blue and girls for pink? Where in the hell would that come from, evolutionarily? Yes, children identify themselves by gender and often tend to choose things that are marketed to their genders. This certainly does NOT mean that every "gendered" preference has a real biological basis. There's probably something to the sociobiological idea that men tend to be more aggressive and women tend to be more nurturing--but in no way does this translate to a "truth" that everything "boyish" or "girly" at this particular moment in 21st century American pop culture must be truly biologically "boyish" or "girly." To believe otherwise shows a lack of critical thinking skills.

Incidentally, my 3yo girl asked for cars and a doll for Christmas. Her favorite color is green. She doesn't give a damn about princesses because we haven't bothered to introduce her to them. Her interests are not gendered one way or the other--she likes lots of things on both sides of the divide. We don't allow TV, we don't talk up gender roles, we encourage all kinds of play and toys, and by happenstance her peer group does not includes kids who are really into the gendered stuff. I think adults play a huge role in gender-socializing their kids, especially the youngest ones, and I'm not surprised at all by where DD is on this now. Will it change as she gets older? Perhaps, but we've certainly made it this far without her "coincidentally" becoming obsessed with the girl toys and trappings that are pushed by corporations and pop culture.
post #105 of 255
Quote:
However, the point I'm trying to make is that toy companies probably don't care about gender roles.
I couldn't disagree more. When you can make two versions of everything and make it so boys can't use the girls' version and vice versa, you make more money.
post #106 of 255
I was just explaining this point to dd1 the other day. Ditto the character thing. If you get a Barbie fishing pole now, and a year from now you don't like Barbie anymore, then you want to get a new fishing pole with a better character on it.

I told her that their job is to get as much of her money as possible. Her job is to get the things she wants while keeping as much of her money as possible.
post #107 of 255
I started out not buying gender specific toys for either child. However, when they were around age two, I started letting them choose their own toys. Sometimes they choose gender specific things, sometimes not. My ds loves tractors, trucks, motorcycles and superheros. He also loves Barbies, stuffed animals, and wearing lip gloss and nail polish. (He's 2.5) Dd really likes the more "girly" stuff, but she also likes snakes, lizards and sports. I fully believe that when they're old enough to choose their own toys, they should be able to do just that. I can understand parents wanting to have a variety of toys including "boy" things and "girl" things.
post #108 of 255
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Originally Posted by KristiMetz View Post
People who already have bisexual tendencies may change their situations over time, but the important distinction here is that these people were already bisexual... their innate sexual orientation did not change.
... some of those people would like to change the fact that they are gay, they simply cannot.

Many people's sexuality already falls somewhere in the spectrum between being completely hetro and completely homo -sexual, yes, I agree. But as far as it actually changing, no, I do not believe that is true...
Exactly. Brain structure does not change, without trauma, or or chemical change... BUT, BEHAVIOR IS fluid.

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Originally Posted by Flor View Post
I totally agree with you there. Children often know at a very young age, from experience with family.

What was I watching, some 20/20 or Barbara Walters or something that spoke of that article about sexual orientation being determined en utero and the interviewed parents of the LBTG folks all knew their kids were not hetero at a VERY young age. Some said 18 months.
This 20/20 set used some of the study-data that I referred to earlier.

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Originally Posted by Robert Goodman View Post
So sexual orientation is unlike orientation regarding anything other than sex? (Because orientation concerning other things can surely change over the course of one's life.) And the evidence for that is just the failure of some cockamamie camps to deliberately change anyone's sex preference?

Regarding other tastes, do you know of any other successes deliberately changing someone's preferences in them? Not just overlaying an aversion or suppressing action, but actually changing what someone likes to a different, deliberately chosen pattern? And not just persuading someone with facts about something? (I mean you can persuade someone to choose A over B by presenting facts that A is better than B. But I'm referring here to matters of taste, not fact-based preferences.)

Was there ever anything you liked a lot, but got tired of thru repeated exposure? And then switched to something else? Could you not imagine someone going thru that process with sexuality?

Robert
Robert, yes, one can change their MIND... but not their BRAIN. Lets' try looking at this in a really rudimentary way. I suspect you may have a man's plumbing. In utero, your plumbing was defined, and developed around the 4th and 5th month, and your brain architecture, and chemical signature was also developing right about then, assigning you your sexuality. Do you thnk at some point you might "change your mind" about having a man's plumbing? And then, thru changing your mind, that said plumbing will just metamorphose on its own into a woman's plumbing? Some amphibians can do this, through the drive to procreate and when there are limited mates, but humans, unfortunately, cannot.

In the same respect, we cannot elect to change our sexuality. We CAN change our behavior, often to reflect social norms, conditioning, pressure, etc. But it has nothing to do with the actual wiring. Just like my hair color was defined in the womb, to orient on the darker end of the spectrum, so then is my sexuality oriented on the straighter end of the spectrum... I can chose to dye my hair, but I'm still a brunette. I can chose to kiss girls (and like to sometimes) but I'm still hetero.

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Originally Posted by wemoon View Post
Kristi, I am a perfect example of sexuality (complete with mindset) changing. It actually goes back to what I originally said, that sexuality is a social construct....

...I do know of others with experiences very similar or of the exact opposite. This is one big reason why I say that sexuality is fluid. You are not set for life in one role and it is OK to come out later in life after having a completely heterosexual life thus far and it is also OK to start having heterosexual relationships after only being in homosexual ones your whole life. The key is, is that this is each person's own desire.
wemoon you are a perfect example of the fluidity of BEHAVIOR. Your sexual assignment, in neurological terms, might likely fall smack in the middle of the sexual-assignment-spectrum. But your personal preferences, as defined by your personal experiences, allow you the adaptability to adjust your own behavior to fit your desires. Your wiring, inside, however, remains a constant, regardless of behavior.
post #109 of 255
The toy thing is complicated. We don't watch much television, and while my daughter's preferred toys are (mostly) gender neutral, my son vastly prefers "boy toys." He's been asking for a toy gun for the past six months at least (shudder). Now, that doesn't change the fact that his favorite color is pink, and that given the choice he would wear nothing but pink day in and day out. I was chatting this morning with a school staff member and another parent and I mentioned that BeanBean seemed ridiculously masculine for a child dressed all in pink. The staff member nodded and said, "He is, and it's very interesting." The kid likes pink because it's pretty, not because he thinks he's a girl or wants to be a girl. He enjoys being a boy, he just thinks that boys generally get a raw deal when it comes to clothing and hair. I'm inclined to agree in terms of color and style, but when it comes to value boys have it better. Girl's clothing doesn't seem to be designed to stand up to the play of a very rugged little boy. :
post #110 of 255
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Isn't there a difference between cultural or marketing gender stereotypes and actual gender/sexuality?
Yes! Exactly. You are born with your gender imprinted into your DNA. We can't reprogram people to be a certain gender or sexuality; however, we can teach them to supress their true identity by how we treat them and even little things we say. I'm not going to encourage my son to play only with cars. On the other hand, I won't be encouraging him to play with barbies either. If he wants them, I'll buy them. I'm not going to tell him he can't have a toy because it's too boyish and is a "tool used by our oppressionist society to program you into their ideal man." The stereotypes are marketed not because they were created, however, to make boys boyish and girls girly, but because that's what each gender is more apt to like. We've come to associate things with boys or girls because of observing their differences. No one just suddenly one day said "Boys should like cars, and girls like dolls. Let's make it so!" It's not just about gender either, but also about personality types. Your personality has as much to do with your toy preferences as your gender, if not more.

Quote:
Do you really believe that boys have a biological preference for blue and girls for pink?
I sure don't, but at the same time, I don't believe in putting boys in blue or girls in pink because you as the parent think they look cute in them, or to help strangers tell them apart, or whatever reason, is going to make them prefer one over the other. Associating a color with something doesn't mean you're going to make a child favor that color or associate that color with ALL people of one gender. Blue is also associated with calmness. Maybe we associate boys with blue because they're rowdy and need to calm down? Mine sure does

Quote:
"in no way does this translate to a "truth" that everything "boyish" or "girly" at this particular moment in 21st century American pop culture must be truly biologically "boyish" or "girly.""
I totally agree. No boy or girl displays every quality that society overall seems to associate with specific genders. I've said repeatedly that my son's favorite thing is his cars...but he also loves to stomp around in my heels! He's definitely biologically a boy, but he certainly could care a less about being the 'perfect boy.'

I do agree that society does have expectations for boys and girls and that this is dangerous and unfortunate. I'm not going to encourage my son to rebel against 'normal boyness' for the sake of it anymore than I'm going to parade him around town in frilly dresses. I'll expose him to everything I can that is not inappropriate and let him decide who he is. It would be a shame if I never introduced monster trucks because they were too 'boyish,' and it turns out those would be like his favorite thing in the world but we never know, and he never gets to learn that or learns it too late. Know what I mean?

Quote:
" When you can make two versions of everything and make it so boys can't use the girls' version and vice versa, you make more money."
What toys out there for girls CAN'T be used by boys and vice versa? Boys can play with just about everything girls can and vice versa, unless you're thinking of training bras.

The two different versions are made to appeal to two different tastes. Not all little girls are going to want a pink frilly thing, and not all little boys are going to want something all red and blue. Usually, what is created for girls is done so because girls tend to favor that item and vice versa for boys. However, making TWO versions of something means that they double their profits, yes. Not because they care about gender roles but because they care about appealing to two different personality types, and that's not necessarily even to do with gender. Some boys will turn their noses up at certain 'boy toys' and liking the 'girl version' better. I just don't think EVERYTHING is a conspiracy. What could toy companies care about gender roles? They care about MONEY.

Quote:
"you are a perfect example of the fluidity of BEHAVIOR. Your sexual assignment, in neurological terms, might likely fall smack in the middle of the sexual-assignment-spectrum. But your personal preferences, as defined by your personal experiences, allow you the adaptability to adjust your own behavior to fit your desires. Your wiring, inside, however, remains a constant, regardless of behavior."
For one, I think it is presumptious to tell another person about herself. Secondly, personal preference isn't always a matter of experience. We are wired to like chocolate or vanilla and just don't know it until we experience it, for example. I think this is a contradiction. Either you are born with certain preferences and desires, or you're not. Your DNA is constant, but the way your brain functions can indeed change over time...and I think that has as much to do with sexuality as your DNA does. I go back and forth between like men more, women more, and liking them equally, always have. It really just depends on my way of thinking at the time. IF one can change their way of thinking, which is neurological, then obviously the sexual-assignment-spectrum, at least the part of it associated with our neurons, is fluid, too.
post #111 of 255
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Originally Posted by green betty View Post
The OP asked what we do to counteract this cultural conditioning. One of my answers has been to change my language to include gender only when it is relevant to the context. Which it hardly ever is. I find myself saying "Look at that... person! riding the bike!" and stuff like that. If it doesn't matter what age or sex or gender or perceived race, etc that person is, I just say "person". The reason I'm pointing them out is because of the bike--dc, 2, is bananas about bikes--so that's the emphasis in my statement. It felt awkward when I started doing it but has now become comfortable and habitual.

PS My above use of the word "them" is, imho, a necessary evil. Sloppy, but both widely understood and gender neutral and therefore extremely useful.

PPS I had to come back and edit this to change "ds" to "dc", which I've been trying to do for the same reasons. Still a work in progress!
My biggest pet peeve about the english language. There is no single person gender neutral pronoun.
post #112 of 255
Quote:
My biggest pet peeve about the english language. There is no single person gender neutral pronoun
That's a good point. We need one of those. We can't use 'them' because that's for multiple persons, and using 'it' isn't exactly respectful or accurate either. We should create one and start using it
post #113 of 255
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Originally Posted by moonfirefaery View Post

For one, I think it is presumptious to tell another person about herself. Secondly, personal preference isn't always a matter of experience. We are wired to like chocolate or vanilla and just don't know it until we experience it, for example. I think this is a contradiction. Either you are born with certain preferences and desires, or you're not. Your DNA is constant, but the way your brain functions can indeed change over time...and I think that has as much to do with sexuality as your DNA does. I go back and forth between like men more, women more, and liking them equally, always have. It really just depends on my way of thinking at the time. IF one can change their way of thinking, which is neurological, then obviously the sexual-assignment-spectrum, at least the part of it associated with our neurons, is fluid, too.
moonfirefaery, I never presumed to tell her about herself, what so ever... but rather, expaned on her own comment about herself, that she finds herself to be an example of the way sexuality can change, merely pointing out that, speaking purely of brain architecture, no, sexuality does NOT CHANGE, but that sexual BEHAVIOR can change, which, if I'm not mistaken,. actually supports your own statements.... so we all agree.
post #114 of 255
I think our brain is continually changing, especially considering supposedly simplying breathing in ozone results in our brain cells dying. Regardless of whether architecture changes, the way we use our brains can change, and that can have an effect on not just our behavior but our desires and preferences as well. The way we think does change. The paths the neurons take can change. Moreover, look at sexuality throughout history. It is apparent that it is not completely dependant on the way our brains are constructed. Yes, sexual behavior does change, but I also believe sexuality is fluid as well. What is sexuality but what it is we desire in our physical relationships and partners?
post #115 of 255
I will agree with the comment about the behavior being fluid. Definitely that is true. But I'm still going to go with sexuality being fluid as well. To say that it is all wired in you at birth is to assume that sexuality is just not the whole picture. I do panels on campus about LGBT folk and when we get the question about if we are "born with it" or is it a "choice" there is people on both ends. Some feel they were absolutely born with this sexuality and others who feel it was a choice. It is a little scarey to even put it out there as it is absolutely something in the DNA that you are born with, because that gives science in an "in" to find the "gay gene" and then "help" parents make sure their kid isn't gay. I won't deny that there is some sort of "born with it" something but I don't want to back myself or anyone else into a corner either. I think there has to be an element of choice, and thus fluidity.
post #116 of 255
I'm with wemoon.

As for 'choice' vs 'born with it,' I tend to think it is a little of both, depending on the individual person. I think there are many factors, and I think that as those factors change, so does sexuality. While your wiring inside does not change, factors influencing your behavior and desires do. What we find attractive and desirable is based on more than just our DNA and our brain architecture. Sexuality is more than just what gender a person identifies with; it also involves what sort of sexual activity a person pursues, what their sexual interests are, etc. While our genders certainly do not change, not on their own anyway, the other side of our sexuality can and does.

In high school I was equally attracted to men and women. That is not a behavior. If my interest and desires, which are a part of sexuality, can change, then that is in and of itself my sexuality, at least one part of it, changing. I think we are influenced by our brain architecture, the balance of chemicals, society, even our connections with other people. I know a lot of same-sex couples that, before having met, never would have considered a relationship with the same sex. Does that mean their sexual orientation is straight, or that they were lesbians all along without having known? I think it means that their sexuality is fluid, based upon more than brain structure.

You can be attracted to someone for so many reasons, from love to simply liking a certain shade of hair. You can be attracted to someone because they remind you of someone else. While some people are definitely born with a preference for brown haired women, that preference can be changed by experience, society, etc. I think it those sexual preferences are as much a part of sexuality as gender. I do agree there is a 'born with it' -something- in many people. I think I was definitely born bisexual, because I remember enjoying the nude female form as much as the male one long before I even began dating or even knew what a lesbian was. I just don't think it's as simple as all that. I think there is more to it.
post #117 of 255
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Originally Posted by moonfirefaery View Post
Do you disagree that boys and girls are different? Do you think they are the same? Am I lying about the little boy raised as a girl, programmed as a girl, whose boy personality prevailed? That story is true; he is a living example that boys and girls are different, that gender identity is programmed from birth.
Boys do act differently in several ways from girls (on average) and the evidence is overwhelming that the cause of many of those differences is sex-based genetics. However, so much of what we think of as "male" and "female" is a matter not of sex, but of gender (i.e. arbitrary division into 2 types) that it's hard to find firm ground for a genetic role in "sex identity" because what people usually mean by that is a kind of gender identity. Sex is biologic, gender is cultural.

My friend Nadine has a good analogy from language. In French the words for "key" and "lock" are feminine and masculine, gender-wise, respectively, even though the key resembles a penis and the keyhole a vagina. That's because it happens that the nouns referring to male & female humans are assigned to those genders, so that the sex becomes associated with a gender, even though the gender concept has nothing to do with sex.

Robert
post #118 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by moonfirefaery View Post
However, the point I'm trying to make is that toy companies probably don't care about gender roles. They make toys for specific genders because that's what those kids are most likely to like and the parents most likely to buy.
Indeed, I wrote earlier in this thread about how the makers of bubble baths fought the gender roles by advertising from about 1960 to about 1970, and succeeded! In that case it really was a gender, not a sex role -- if anything, the biology would tend the opposite way.

Robert
post #119 of 255
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Originally Posted by loraxc View Post
When you can make two versions of everything and make it so boys can't use the girls' version and vice versa, you make more money.
That works for some things but not others. It works when it's a durable item that you're induced to buy two of when they could've shared one because of the above. It works when you get more shelf space or placement in different stores because of your two versions. It doesn't work when it's an item that siblings wouldn't've shared (so you'd've sold two to the family anyway), and having to make different versions increases your mfg. cost. And it [U]definitely[U] doesn't work when it's a type of product that one sex is discouraged from using entirely, as in my example of bath foams before the 1960s.

You think builders like having to put in separate men's & ladies' rooms? Unisex bathrooms would save establishments a lot. It sure saved them a bundle when they stopped having to supply separate "colored" & "white" rest facilities!

Robert
post #120 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by loraxc View Post
Everyone I knew told me that I would "give up" my ideas about raising kids without excessive gender-role-pushing once I had kids. "Oh, I thought that too, and then I had my boy and he just loved cars, so I was proved wrong..." "I thought that too, and then I had my girl and she just went crazy for princesses and pink, so I knew there was truth to it..."

To which I say: have you no awareness of the power of marketing, television, and peers? Do you really believe that boys have a biological preference for blue and girls for pink? Where in the hell would that come from, evolutionarily? Yes, children identify themselves by gender and often tend to choose things that are marketed to their genders. This certainly does NOT mean that every "gendered" preference has a real biological basis. There's probably something to the sociobiological idea that men tend to be more aggressive and women tend to be more nurturing--but in no way does this translate to a "truth" that everything "boyish" or "girly" at this particular moment in 21st century American pop culture must be truly biologically "boyish" or "girly." To believe otherwise shows a lack of critical thinking skills.

Yup yup yup!
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