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Forcing gender roles on young children - Page 4

post #61 of 255
Coming into this thread late, I find the most amazing stuff!

Quote:
Originally Posted by eilonwy View Post
I also said that if he was, in fact, gay, we'd probably know it by now (he's four years old)
I've heard claims of "gaydar", but knowing a 4 YO's preference for sex of sex partner?! How could you possibly know which sex he'd rather have sexual intercourse with, when he probably doesn't even know what that is? I mean, at that age my preference was for the pillow, and I can't imagine he'd be so precocious as to have formed a preference for human sex partner.

I could see only one possible, very weak, indicator of a boy's sexual preference at that age. You'd have to have observed that the people he likes to have around him when he masturbates are more likely to be of one sex, while the people he likes for company under other circumstances aren't of that sex -- that is, a shift in preference for company while he engages in sex play compared to other forms of play. And the odds would still be that some other factor led to his preference of company, such as that certain people would be more tolerant than others of a child's acting sexually.

Robert
post #62 of 255
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!
post #63 of 255
Quote:
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!
This reminds me that teachers can also make an impact by no longer using "girls" and "boys" as an arbitrary way to split a class in half. You know, like if the students need to be walking in 2 lines, why not just two lines rather than a girls' line and a boys' line? Or playing a game in the classroom? Don't divide teams by gender. Just make 'em even. The gender division in schools is still huge, and even younger teachers use it. It's handy and quick-- "Girls on that side of the room, boys on the other." But so unnecesary, and so reinforcing of the gender difference when it is totally avoidable.
post #64 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Goodman View Post
I've heard claims of "gaydar", but knowing a 4 YO's preference for sex of sex partner?! How could you possibly know which sex he'd rather have sexual intercourse with, when he probably doesn't even know what that is?
Surely you're aware that sexual preference is about much more than intercourse! When I was 7, I had no idea what sex was, but I knew that I really, really liked boys, and the thought of kissing a boy made me weak in the knees. Anyone who knew me could have told you I was straight.
post #65 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by pookel View Post
Surely you're aware that sexual preference is about much more than intercourse! When I was 7, I had no idea what sex was, but I knew that I really, really liked boys, and the thought of kissing a boy made me weak in the knees. Anyone who knew me could have told you I was straight.
I don't think thoughts like that at that age "count" or are predictive of sexual preference in adulthood, rather than just indicative of affection. Did you have brothers you felt that way about more than sisters? When you kissed a boy cousin, was it more satisfying than kissing a girl cousin?

The trouble is that since only a tiny minority become homosexual, it's hard to say any examples like yours are confirmatory; the law of averages would say on the basis of mere wild guess that you'd turn out preferring men. Do we have evidence that wanting (in the weak-in-the-knees sense) to kiss at age 7 those of the same sex predicts homosexuality?

Robert (who enjoyed any excuse to kiss anybody at age 7)
post #66 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Goodman View Post
I don't think thoughts like that at that age "count" or are predictive of sexual preference in adulthood, rather than just indicative of affection. Did you have brothers you felt that way about more than sisters? When you kissed a boy cousin, was it more satisfying than kissing a girl cousin?
Um, brothers? Boy cousins? EW!

I'm talking about crushes, romantic feelings, the kind of feelings a normal person doesn't have for siblings (even at 6 or 7 the thought would have been icky to me). I have had them for boys and, later, men, at least since I was 7. The feelings of having a crush that I had then are no different from the feelings I have now if I have a crush on someone, except that as an adult I know more about sexuality and might be interested in sex with someone and not just kissing.

Maybe you developed late in that area. That doesn't mean everyone does. Being gay is about love and romance, not just sex, and those feelings come before sexual interest for most people.
post #67 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by pookel View Post
Um, brothers? Boy cousins? EW!

I'm talking about crushes, romantic feelings, the kind of feelings a normal person doesn't have for siblings (even at 6 or 7 the thought would have been icky to me). I have had them for boys and, later, men, at least since I was 7. The feelings of having a crush that I had then are no different from the feelings I have now if I have a crush on someone, except that as an adult I know more about sexuality and might be interested in sex with someone and not just kissing.
So...in what way could you have said to have matured romantically? I'm having trouble believing a 6-7 YOs "icky" feelings about relatives somehow relate to adult norms about incest, which it seems one would have to learn from the wider culture. I also have trouble conceiving of an adult's "crush" as being the same type of thought she would've had as a little kid. We need to do some thought experimentation.

Let me ask this one first -- would you be romantically attracted now to a 7 YO boy? If not, hasn't something changed about your romantic feelings?

And...could you, now have a "crush" on another adult that did not involve any sexual ideas, the same as when you were a child? If not, let's say you knew to start with that the object of your "crush" was permanently incapable of any kind of sexual intercourse with you, but was willing & able to have sex with everyone else in the world. If that doesn't work either, does that mean sex, or the awareness of it, changes everything?

I joined this thread with a little anecdote showing that commercial advertising can break down sexual stereotypes, but now the thread has turned in a fascinating direction showing how foreign the goings on in someone else's head can be. If we were together we might each have a look of amazement at the other.

Robert
post #68 of 255
Robert - regarding the "nature vs. nurture" nature of homosexuality, here is an article which sums up some of the evidence found for homsexuality's origins :

http://allpsych.com/journal/homosexuality.html

Personally, I believe the question of whether homosexuality is a "choice" is, quite frankly, moot at best and silly at worst. To define homosexuality as a choice would be to say that heterosexuality is a choice, being the opposite side of the coin.

In addition, to say that homosexuality would be a CHOICE just defies logic. Why would anyone CHOOSE a sexual orientation which almost universally ostracizes them in our culture (unfortunately)? Why would someone choose to be discriminated against, spat on, considered immoral or unable to have a relationship with god (all current beliefs by many yahoo individuals in the world). Why would someone choose a setup whereby their partner gets royally screwed in all matters of medical privacy, inheritance, parenting, and so on (all areas where we openly discriminate against homosexuals)? It defies logic. I hope in the future our society can choose people of all sexual orientations equally, but unfortunately right now we are not especially progressive (although admittedly we're doing better than in some past ages).

Also, if it was a "choice" (as in a conscious choice), then wouldn't there somewhere be documented cases of a homosexual CHOOSING to be hetero again? Yet there are no documented cases where this has happened, without the former homosexual eventually regressing. If sexuality were simply a choice, we could go from one extreme to another, or lay somewhere in the middle, depending on what we felt like doing. But it doesn't really seem to work that way, does it?
post #69 of 255
P.S. - I have to agree with Robert here that, at age 4, I don't personally believe homosexuality would most likely have manifested itself. The most I have heard of in that area is that some boys who grow up to be gay show more interest in girly-type things as a child, although that's certainly not a definite relationship by ANY means.
post #70 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Goodman View Post
I'm having trouble believing a 6-7 YOs "icky" feelings about relatives somehow relate to adult norms about incest, which it seems one would have to learn from the wider culture.
And a 6-7 yo has been experiencing that culture for 6-7 years. Ask your average first-grader if he or she thinks it's OK for brothers and sisters to marry each other, and I'm pretty sure you'll hear an overwhelming "no" answer.

Quote:
Let me ask this one first -- would you be romantically attracted now to a 7 YO boy? If not, hasn't something changed about your romantic feelings?
This kind of question is just plain ridiculous. When I was 7 I was attracted to 7-year-olds. When I was 12 I was attracted to 12-year-olds. Now that I'm 29, I'm attracted to men in their 20s and 30s. I imagine that when I'm 80 I'll still be attracted to my 82-year-old husband in a way that I can't imagine being attracted to an 82-year-old now. That doesn't mean that I'm somehow immature in my romantic feelings now. It just means that people are usually (and appropriately) attracted to people in their own age group.

Quote:
And...could you, now have a "crush" on another adult that did not involve any sexual ideas, the same as when you were a child?
The only reason there weren't sexual ideas when I was a child is that I didn't understand what those urges were about. 6-7 yos can have sexual desires, too (please don't tell me you weren't aware of that). Just because they don't understand the logistics of what those desires mean for adults doesn't mean they don't feel them.
post #71 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by BelgianSheepDog View Post
"Medical science" has plenty of theories on this topic, but nothing at all as conclusive as what you just said.
http://allpsych.com/journal/homosexuality.html < this really WAS an awesome article. And, my schooling and reading material on neurological development in utero plus neo-natal neuro-genetics, say there IS conclusive evidence that development of homo and transexuality occurs in the brain architecture around the 5th month.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lula's Mom View Post
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.
Tomorrow's Baby by Thomas Verny has some great case-studies on the topic. It's about the brain's development and how affected it is by the environment plus genetics, in utero...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post
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...
Aaw!! StormBride, my dh thinks it's SO cute, too... we just melt when she does this... I mean, to ANYTHING. The book I mentioned above also discusses how some of these behaviors are MUCH more likely in gender specific scenarios, ie, girls are more apt to play nurturing games with a variety of different toys (or food, in OUR little ones' cases!), while boys are more apt to play "automobile" or "go" with any kinda toy, like making a block into a car, etc.

I've also been learning about language and guided play, being used to counteract some of the cultural paradigms set up by generations before us... Apparently, boys are more likely to be engaged in active conversations from babyhood on, by adults/care-givers, and girls are more likely to have to seek out active conversation... it looks like this:

A boy will crawl or toddle up, and mom or dad will say, "Hey kiddo! What are you doing? You coming to see me?" etc, whereas, studies show, a girl who toddles up is more likely to receive a "Hi, honey." with no leading conversation to follow. The result is that our boys model 'leader' behavior, our girls practice 'emotional repair' by seeking out interaction.

So it's advised that we make conscious efforts to encourage our boys to 'feel' their way, and seek out a bit, teaching them that same emotional awareness (maybe making them gay! ) and that we encourage leader qualities in our girls by actively engaging them, like that. I learned about this in an Emotioanl Availability course. Truly illuminating...
post #72 of 255
I don't think there's anything wrong with gender roles, but I agree they shouldn't be forced on children (or anyone). I think gender roles can be presented to children in a way that doesn't stifle them as individuals.
post #73 of 255
OK - I haven't been able to read the whole thread. (I'll come back to it after some sleep) but for the OP - I do try to combat gender roles by just following the natural leads of my boys. Both kids are kind of "rough and tumble" types, but DS2 does love vacuuming and babies, so he got a toy vacuum for his birthday and a doll and stroller for x-mas. Yes, the toy stroller is pink, but he *loves* pushing his "baby" around the house in it, so it's all good with me

My goal is to produce two men who know how to keep a house, tuck a baby into bed and play football. "gender roles" be damned!!
post #74 of 255
Sexuality is fluid and ever changing. In referencing Kinsey's scale, only a small amount of the population (10% on either side) are considered 100% homosexual or 100% heterosexual. Both homosexual and heterosexual behaviors can be nutured or through nature. One could have been in a heterosexual role for years upon years to all of the sudden one day realize that this isn't working for them and then to become involved in homosexual relationships. Society nutures heterosexuality.

Notice how the gender stereotypes in this thread seem to relate mostly to boys? It seems much more problematic that a boy would be playing with dolls and painting their nails than it is for a girl to play with a football and wanting to wear bibs with no shirts.
post #75 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by woobysma View Post

My goal is to produce two men who know how to keep a house, tuck a baby into bed and play football. "gender roles" be damned!!
And when they grow up, let's get together and introduce them to my daughter. Or my son.
post #76 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by pookel View Post
Surely you're aware that sexual preference is about much more than intercourse! When I was 7, I had no idea what sex was, but I knew that I really, really liked boys, and the thought of kissing a boy made me weak in the knees. Anyone who knew me could have told you I was straight.
:

And I disagree with the idea that children are asexual beings; I've encountered many homosexual and heterosexual people who say that they've always known that they were whatever orientation, from the time they can remember. I've met small children who were decidedly hetero or homosexual in orientation, despite the fact that they were most assuredly not looking for sexual partners. What, you think it just spontaneously happens when the kids are 12/14/16? Please. The kids know, the parents know, long before they're thinking about dating or kissing or any such thing. Sexual orientation has to do with a lot more than intercourse, and it's determined long before intercourse becomes a viable option.
post #77 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by KristiMetz View Post
Personally, I believe the question of whether homosexuality is a "choice" is, quite frankly, moot at best and silly at worst.
As long as we're discussing desires and not behavior, it is silly, because it's self-evident that preferences of any kind are not chosen. Our desires are not of our own deliberate making. That goes whether it's preference for vanilla vs. chocolate, Fords vs. Chevies, or toilet paper over or under. In some cases we can give reasons for our preferences, but those reasons are in turn based on other preferences, etc.

If sexuality is more narrowly construed as a behavior pattern, then you can say it's a choice the same way pursuing any of our desires is a choice. You could even behave sexually a certain way without liking it, just to please someone else; but then you have to ask why you choose to please a particular person, or even other people in general.

Robert
post #78 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by pookel View Post
This kind of question is just plain ridiculous. When I was 7 I was attracted to 7-year-olds. When I was 12 I was attracted to 12-year-olds. Now that I'm 29, I'm attracted to men in their 20s and 30s. I imagine that when I'm 80 I'll still be attracted to my 82-year-old husband in a way that I can't imagine being attracted to an 82-year-old now. That doesn't mean that I'm somehow immature in my romantic feelings now. It just means that people are usually (and appropriately) attracted to people in their own age group.
You may think the question ridiculous, but it's not. Among men there's a strong tendency to prefer their women young, regardless of the men's own age. The ideal age of female sex partner many men would prefer might even be a compromise between pedophilia and desire for a sexually mature partner.

Quote:
The only reason there weren't sexual ideas when I was a child is that I didn't understand what those urges were about. 6-7 yos can have sexual desires, too (please don't tell me you weren't aware of that). Just because they don't understand the logistics of what those desires mean for adults doesn't mean they don't feel them.
I have my doubts that sincere feelings like that exist on the continuum you think they do. Possibly children who say they feel such things are just acting out a role, or just curious about the opposite sex. But that doesn't explain your feeling now that your feelings at that age were "sexual" in some way related to how adults mean it.

When I was 3.5 YO and my parents went to the hospital to "get" another baby, I was asked whether I wanted a baby brother, a baby sister, or a baby dog. I considered carefully (and remember doing so) before asking for a baby sister. (They said they'd try to get me one, but couldn't be sure. I was very pleased when they did.) I figured I was a boy, so we "had" a boy already, and a girl would be complementary, and a person would be more fun than a dog. Maybe I wanted to know more about the opposite sex too, but in any event I thought the experience would somehow be more interesting. However, I wouldn't state that in terms of attraction to the opposite sex. I felt equally affectionate toward just about everybody, and loved hugging and kissing and being kissed, as well as petting dogs & cats.

I'd say I was a few years older than you when I first knew somebody who could make me "melt", and it so happened that she was a girl at school, Claudia, who liked to play ball with the boys. I think it may have been coincidental that she was a girl, and that I might've known other people of both sexes who could produce that feeling in me, but she's the one I remember. Come to think of it, Daddy could have that effect on me too sometimes. However, I now have a friend Nadine who reminds me of Claudia in the way she sounds, and when she eats or chews gum while talking to me on the phone, I get that feeling of "melting". It doesn't go with sexual arousal at all, however.

BTW, Daddy eventually married someone my sister's age. Because he could, I think.

Robert
post #79 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Goodman View Post
But that doesn't explain your feeling now that your feelings at that age were "sexual" in some way related to how adults mean it.
The feelings I'm talking about included physical sexual arousal. How much more detailed do I need to get before you understand what I'm talking about?
post #80 of 255
Quote:
Originally Posted by pookel View Post
The feelings I'm talking about included physical sexual arousal. How much more detailed do I need to get before you understand what I'm talking about?
Oh, I understand; the trouble is believing!

What you're describing is, if you'll pardon the pun, exciting, in terms of the science. Presumably you're describing the sorts of physiologic changes centered in the groin that go with sexual desire, but you're describing them in a person (yourself) whom you recall as knowing nothing about the possibility of sexual intercourse, but had those changes triggered by the sight and/or thought of the approach of persons of the opposite sex. If this recollection is correct, it could mean one of only a few possible things:
  1. a response to non-cognitive signals sent by members of the same species of opposite sex, such as the mating pheromones certain species emit;
  2. a genetically programmed response to recognition of the opposite sex; or
  3. unconscious and correct guessing that a penis would be a good item to stimulate a vagina with (assuming you already knew what penises were and had experienced masturbation).

Either of the first two would be a major finding in human physiology. The last would say that the intelligence can develop in the unconscious far ahead of its development in conscious thought, which would also be astounding.

So you should understand why I'm skeptical.

Robert
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