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Forcing gender roles on young children - Page 2

post #21 of 255
YES!!! I am adamant that we at least lessen the intense gender role messages society slams us with. We'll be doing this through the types of toys we have, the language we use with our kids (very interesting, how people speak differently to girls vs boys, and about them) and clothing, and treatment (I can't believe some of my students still have different rules vs their sisters/brothers-- like the 16 yo daughter can't go out while the boy could at that age, just b/c she's a girl... passe!) I'm glad we ended up not finding out the gender of this baby, so no one can go overboard with cutesy sports or flowery outfits. Sage green, baby! all the way. Also, TV (esp commercials) is a huge factor in how strong gender roles become in a person's mindset. So that's my actual #1 reason for severely limiting TV. This issue is almost too big and important to me to just type about, but I am so glad others here feel the same way!
post #22 of 255
My DD loves cars and couldn't care less about dolls. That is fine with me, whatever she likes, right? The only thing that drives me absolutely nuts is that everyone thinks she is a boy. -She has blonde, curly hair. I am not sure why it drives me nuts though because intellectually I know it is *their* bad assumption and not anything about her but when someone calls her a 'him' I immediately get angry and correct them (politely). I don't dress her in a lot of blue or gender neutral colors because then more people would call her a 'him'. Besides, DD's favorite thing right now is butterflies and I dare you to find a lot of blue shirts with butterflies on it. As for toys, I just take DD to the toy store and let her pick out her own toys. She gets the best toys that way.
post #23 of 255
We aim for gender neutrality . . . our daughter has always played with a mix of "girl" and "boy" toys. She's worn boy clothes and girl clothes, she loves to ride around on her quad and wants to work on cars when she grows up (like daddy). We do make an effort to be supportive of her less-feminine hobbies, and I am very vocal about there being no such thing as a girl's toy or a boy's toy . . . anyone in our house can wear or play with whatever they want. DD is actually really well rounded as she likes such a great mix of things.

DS is only ten months old, but he's already worn "girl" clothes and he loves the doll he got for xmas. His favorite toy in the house is the play kitchen, and he's so much more sensitive than his sister ever was.

Really, I want my kids to enjoy whatever it is they enjoy, without caring about social norms and expectations.
post #24 of 255
One poster said something about gender roles not being genetic, but rather that they are cultural. Medical Science has now revealed that it is during about the 5th month in utero that sexuality is defined. Genetalia have developed, but the brain is still "deciding", and the cells may go one way or another, but it happens in utero.

No amount of trucks, dolls, dresses or boots will define what our children define themselves as. Some may condition their children or try to force inclinations onto or out of them, but I find this abusive, as that kind of behavior or coercion registers on the psychological abuse scale...

My parents did the reverse enforcing... I had all my bro's hand-me-downs, clothes, toys, you name it... I had trucks, action-figures, etc. My mom loathed pink and purple, and constantly had me in over-alls, reds, blues, orange, etc... people thought I was a boy, because she kept my hair short. I wanted pretty things, dresses, and dolls, barbies, etc... I got science kits, and practical school clothes.

My dd has a wooden kitchen and a Hello Kitty Apron, she has babies and pink and purple dresses. She ALSO loves trains and J.J. the Jet Plane. She tries to nurse and love on any little thing... "Oh, little Baaay-bee! Have some num..." she said to a piece of pickled ginger, the other day, bringing it to her chest to nurse... pickled ginger. She has big blue rubber boots that she likes to don and then go smush around the yard in the mud. She leads the way, and I facilitate her interests... whatever they may be. Anyone who tries to pigeon-hole her, gets an earful from me with a smile and a shrug.
post #25 of 255
post #26 of 255
Without having read anything but the OP, my response to the troglodytes in my life who have the "turning ds gay" paranoia:

1. You don't "turn" gay, you're born gay. It's biology, not psychology. Dollhouses and wearing your mom's shoes don't "turn" you gay anymore than reading Dobson can "turn" you straight.
2. Ds might be gay...so what? The problem with that is???.....If he's gay he's gay. Get over your homophobia, you knuckle-dragger.
post #27 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tigerchild View Post
And I've noticed that when I keep my baggage out of it, my children always suprise me with how they play with certain toys that I (because of my upbringing and preconceived notions) find distasteful on the surface.
I haven't had a chance to read through all the posts yet, but I just had to comment that this really hit home with me Tigerchild. DD is still young for all this, but it seems that lately, probably with all the holidays, I've been seeing those Bratz dolls everywhere and thinking alot about my own barbie/bratz aversion (er...well....disgust is more like it.) A bit of epiphany hit when I read your post....
of course I will trust my daughter (and in turn my own parenting) and allow her to explore toys that I find distasteful. She is brilliant and clever and imaginative and more so every day and I will love her even if she grows up to be a Las Vegas showgirl .
post #28 of 255
Ugh! I hate this pigeonholing so much. It makes me furious- probably more than it should, but I can't help thinking about the longterm effects. I have a hard time explaining calmly why it's important, when it comes up.

I see it especially with ds, and especially with DP's family. It's OK with everybody that my dd loves Mythbusters, hiking, bugs... and also fairies and princesses, pink and girly stuff. But from birth, ds was supposed to fit into the Boy Mold. As soon as he was born and they heard he was a boy, here came a big box of clothes from Puerto Rico. Onesies with basketballs, soccer balls, baseballs... 'MVP' and 'Lil Slugger', stripes. It was easy then because they never saw that he didn't wear those clothes, that I donated them straight to Goodwill.

But now they've all moved over here to be near us. MIL tries but she just doesn't get it! I know it's not an issue she has EVER encountered. She's just never even heard of 'forcing gender roles' on children. He's a boy, so he will have boy things and like it! Of course!

The latest was on Christmas. MIL mentioned that she almost bought ds a big plastic Thomas the Tank Engine-shaped box for him to carry around the trains that he is recently obsessed with. (Hey! The first 3 that he played with belonged to my daughter when she was his age! A novel concept)

I thought it was nice of her to think of that for him, and I said so. Until... she said the reason that she thought of it: "The other day I saw him putting them into Lula's pink backpack, and I knew that he needed something for a boy instead!"

I replied entirely too loudly, "SEE, I AM SO NOT INTO THAT WHOLE BOY/GIRL THING! HE LIKES THE PINK BACKPACK, AND THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT!!!"

She just stood there smiling uncertainly and looking confused. I felt kind of bad, because I know she didn't mean anything by it, but this is so important to me! He's only 2 years old, and if they have their way he will soon be the one saying "I can't play with that, it's for girls." That would just break my heart.
post #29 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jwebbal View Post
Not all children are boys or girls, some lie between. The point is that perhaps our children deserve better than some sort of cultural gender crap that restricts them into binary roles, that decide who they should be. Loving wheels isn't genetic, being nurturing isn't genetic, these are cultural, we decide to reinforce these things, and can be more neutral about them so our children have more choice in the matter. Why can't we let children choose? Why can't we support all children learning to be nurturing? The words used to describe boys or girls are just words, no boy, no girl falls so neatly into cultural descriptions about what girls or boys should be like. I know brave and strong women, as well as nurturing and sensitive men, the myriad of ways that PEOPLE (not men, not women) fall along the spectrum of personality is interesting and varied, why reinforce cultural gender crap? Men and women can act the exact same way, but as a society we describe the behavior differently based on their gender, so being a strong leader in a boy, is manipulation and controlling in a girl, sensitive in a girl is labeled sissy in a boy. Get it? We reinforce this shit everyday, whether we realize it or not.

interesting article somewhat on topic for this thread
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/24/ma...pagewanted=all

that's your opinion, and there is a plethora of scientific research to refute it. I studied sociology at Brandeis. There are about 4 trillion books in any bookstore that could explain why these things are not purely cultural or social conditioning, and about four books that will say they are, and I guess you can believe who you want to believe.

FTR- I am ALL for giving children choices and not pressing the stereotypes on them, but to say something like "being nurturing isn't genetic" is a slap in the face to the incredibly accurate evidence to the contrary (not to mention common sense, heck just look at a mother chimpanzee). Unless I'm taking it the wrong way- absolutely, males can be nurturing, but that is still genetic, and in complex ways, men and women are different.
post #30 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by bri276 View Post
I studied sociology at Brandeis. There are about 4 trillion books in any bookstore that could explain why these things are not purely cultural or social conditioning, and about four books that will say they are, and I guess you can believe who you want to believe.
I studied anthropology at Amherst and was trained to believe the opposite. So i guess it is all point of view. For the record, I don't believe what they taught me anymore. But still, plenty of academics still believe that gender is learned and there is evidence to support it.
post #31 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by PrennaMama View Post
One poster said something about gender roles not being genetic, but rather that they are cultural. Medical Science has now revealed that it is during about the 5th month in utero that sexuality is defined. Genetalia have developed, but the brain is still "deciding", and the cells may go one way or another, but it happens in utero.
"Medical science" has plenty of theories on this topic, but nothing at all as conclusive as what you just said.
post #32 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by swebster View Post
DD is still young for all this, but it seems that lately, probably with all the holidays, I've been seeing those Bratz dolls everywhere and thinking alot about my own barbie/bratz aversion (er...well....disgust is more like it.)
Yes, those things make my right eyeball twitch. I don't like Barbie particularly either, but for whatever reason those Bratz really REALLY irritate me. And I don't even know anything about them, other than their appearance. (Hmmm...there's some irony in there.)

However, I can only control so much. I know that some of my kiddos' friends have those things. My mother has had a hard on (for lack of a better term, sorry) to give my daughter barbies since the child was in utereo. And she (my mother) LOVES a fight and attention, so I just decided to shrug and leave it up to my kid whether or not she wants to play with them. As it happens, she plays with them like I played with them--not much, and not as intended (in our house, it's the bendy animals that wear the ridiculous high heels and miniskirts). I was angry at first, but then I remember what my barbies did (they were parachute paratroopers, as I really wanted GI Joes and those parachute guys but my parents wouldn't buy them so I made my own). My BF in 3rd grade turned her barbies into primal faerie people (we painted them with magic marker and gave them interesting haircuts and made clothing out of leaves and flowers and stuff for them. I have a suspicion, just based on women I know now, that quite a few of us didn't use even the most obnoxious gender-boxing toys in the way we were 'supposed' to. Some of my male friends growing up had GI Joes that liked to take care of animals and play house in the backyard, which given I'm a military brat probably would have made THEIR families shriek.

The only thing I absolutely will not allow in my home are toy guns that look like real ones (I think those are on their way to getting banned for real anyway, I hope). That includes most water pistols, though a lot of the supersoakers now don't look like the real thing. But that has nothing to do with gender, and everything to do with safety issues.

I think some of my favorite things in my parenting journey have been when I've kept my mouth shut about stuff like this and watched to see what my kids do, and not trip over myself anticipating a problem (not that I don't still do that.). Ironically, it's brought back so many memories for me about how I coped with/bucked the system myself, which is comforting. And it's nice to be able to find the humor in the horrific things that some of my relatives have given my kids, and gives me a secret thrill when I know that the toys are going to most likely be used diametrically opposite what the giver intended. ;>
post #33 of 255
So does anybody have any links or books on this subject? I know DP's mother would read them if we gave them to her. I just am not going to be good at discussing this on my own.
post #34 of 255
I really don't see buying kids toys as forcing gender roles on them. Kids aren't going to play with something that they don't want to use. The old, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."

You can buy a kid a toy, but you can't make him play with it.
post #35 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by PrennaMama View Post
She tries to nurse and love on any little thing... "Oh, little Baaay-bee! Have some num..." she said to a piece of pickled ginger, the other day, bringing it to her chest to nurse... pickled ginger.
I've been reading this thread, but was going to avoid commenting, as I just find the whole thing too big to really address well.

But, this struck a chord. DD does this kind of thing. She's always trying to nurse things and tuck them gently into bed and give them little kisses...from her baby brother to a wood block to a piece of food to her Play Doh. It's adorable.

DS1 used to do that with his baby doll, too. But, he didn't have that same "cuddle everything" thing going on. DS2 does seem to have it, though...he has by far the most gentle, least aggressive temperament of my kids. DD has by far the most aggressive temperament, tucking broccoli into bed notwithstanding...
post #36 of 255
but if the only toys you buy your kid are strictly gender specific, don't you think thats so backward? Kids will play with anything, but I see this as putting our kids into little boxes and not letting them determine their own way. I offer all kinds of stuff to my boy, not just what is marketed to me as the parent of a son. I want my kid to be who he is, as well as me working to counteract some of the gender crap thrown at us by our culture and society.
post #37 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by phathui5 View Post
I really don't see buying kids toys as forcing gender roles on them. Kids aren't going to play with something that they don't want to use. The old, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."

You can buy a kid a toy, but you can't make him play with it.
Well, ds wouldn't pick out a baby doll in the store, but if I bought one he'd play with it. I really do have an effect on what they play with in two ways: 1 by what I offer (buy) and 2. what I chose to play with them. My sons has a kitchen toy that honestly he wouldn't use very often, but when he says "Mama, will you play with me?" I am drawn to the kitchen. I holds my attention longer then playing Mater and Lightening McQueen (AGAIN), so he does play with it more because of me.

Left to his own to pick out his own toys, ds would chose a truck 99% of the time. I have chosen most of his toys and I try to supply him with a mix: blocks, kitchens, trucks, dolls, animals, silks, etc. and he does play with them.

I have been shocked to see at such a young age (3) he is already making gernalizations for hims self. For example, I am a teacher and dh works in construction. My friend is a teacher and her husband is a teacher as well. Ds said, "But I thought only mommies were teachers and daddies went to work." Even though we try to raise him without these strict ideas of gender roles, I find him (and his brother before him) processing life by generalizing. I remember when dss was 5 and met my friend who played guitar. Dss said, "I thought only men played guitar," because dh and his grandpa play guitar.

It seems exhausting to "battle" the gender roles that the world wants to place on my child. . . and the ones they want to place on themselves. I am lucky to have a family who is fine with dolls for boys, etc.
post #38 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by phathui5 View Post

You can buy a kid a toy, but you can't make him play with it.
No. But you can make him ashamed to play with his sister's toys that he previously enjoyed immensely, simply by telling him that pink is a color for girls, and that a boy needs a blue train box instead of a Hello Kitty backpack. Why does he NEED something else, when that served his purpose just fine?

It's not OK with me for others to try to mold him into conformity. He's only 2 years old. As he grows, I'll not be able to shield him from the delineated gender roles. He'll see it, he'll absorb it. But as far as he knows right now, pink is just one color of many, and Hello Kitty is just a cat, and it is just so wrong to tell him that he should be playing with something for boys.

I just think it's so damaging and limiting to boys and girls, to tell them this kind of stuff. It only expands into "this is a womans/man's job", which I also really dislike hearing.
post #39 of 255
Gender indoctrination messages can be very subtle, and soon manifest in seemingly "natural" behavior. I happen to believe that it's all an interplay of nature and nurture, but I can't ignore how society quietly and insistently projects these images/roles onto us/our children. Just searching for some darn neutral baby clothes is killing me-- the uber-girliness of the girls' clothes, the macho boys' clothes... yuck.
post #40 of 255
I both agree and disagree with what many of you are saying. I agree with the idea that children should be able to play with what ever toys they want to. However, I do believe that gender roles are defined for a reason, and I will be happy to teach these roles to my children. I think that men and women are different, and we should celebrate these differences, as opposed to showing how alike we are. We're not alike; we're different for good reasons. Women are biologically programmed for taking care and nurturing young (we have the breasts ). I also believe men have an innate desire to care for and provide for thier families. I feel that these differences are what make us great. That's not to say that every dad must work and every mom must stay at home. I work outside of the home, and DH watches the baby two days a week. I just think that we have obvious differences; they're there for a reason, and we should celebrate it, not try to ignore or forget about those differences.
When people tell you that you're going to turn your kid gay, ignore it. I highly doubt the toys a child plays with shapes his sexual identity.
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