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Gender bias and our wee ones - Page 2

post #21 of 39
Thread Starter 

Re: Gender bias and our wee ones

I suspect that sleepies was refering to this quote from my original post.

Originally posted by kama'aina mama
I have lost track of how many parents of boys (all mainstream) have told me (as their boys bounced off of walls and leaped of the furniture) that I am lucky because "girls are so sweet and boys are just rough and mean". Aside from the whole 'nice way to descibe your kid right in front of him' issue... I don't think it's true.
sleepies said

that's bad

my boys are neither rough nor mean

i think rough and mean is TAUGHT behavior

and i think the way they treated their boys, is why they act that way, unless they have medical issues.
I agree sleepies!
post #22 of 39
Originally posted by jbcjmom
I think that it is harder to raise young boys than it is young girls to be gender biased.
I think you are right, and I don't even have any boys! My 2 girls are currently taking a dance class and they love dressing up in little ballet outfits. They have a same age friend who is a boy who is in Twe Kwon Doe (SP?????) They have decided that TKD looks like fun and want to try a class sometime. Their friend wouldn't be caught dead in ballet (and his mom even rented a video to show him that grown men do ballet). In 5 short years -- with very cool, open minded parents -- his idea of manly behavior is very engrained, while my little girls think that they can do anything.
post #23 of 39

just wanted to agree with sierra and scribblerkate

Just because it's difficult to raise your kids "gender-neutral" (though I don't like the term because it kind of assumes that they will reside between the spaces of male or female constrained to a wardrobe or green and white and prefer thinking of it as giving them a full range of options) doesn't mean we should give up. If your dd's like to play with dolls and dress-up that doesn't mean that those interests are biologically-ingrained; they are just exercising options at the end of the traditionally feminine side. We just need to be sure that ds's get the option of nurturing play as well and that dd's get the option of active play.

That said I also agree with jbcjmom that it's harder for boys to exercise (I'm sounding like a stockbroker here, which I'm not, sorry) the traditionally feminine options b/c those activities are undervalued due to good old sexism. "Why would a strapping long lad like you want to wear a tutu; that's for girls (derisively)" So even though girls seem to have the advantage to be tomboys, the underlying sexist dynamic is really geared to keep them in their place.

So, I try to do my best. Some days my best is better than others. This spring, ds will wear pink; he looks great in pink; he owns a pink outfit. But, I hate that I actually have to think about it and psych myself up about it.

post #24 of 39
Ds would love a pair of those sparkley, red Mary Jane's that look like Dorothy's shoes from "The Wizard of Oz." I tried to buy him a pair, but his feet are too wide. I think they would have gone great with his Thomas the Tank Engine shirt.

You should have seen the look on the face of the lady buying her baby iboy it's first pair of shoes. She thought I was nuts.
post #25 of 39
I tend to be the gender bias police - I even wrote my master's thesis on gender bias in elementary school classrooms!

I think that there is most likely just as much variation within a gender as there is between genders; so that one girl is just as different from another girl as she is from a boy. I think that each child is truly an individual. I agree that the messages society gives regarding gender roles are inavoidable, but like anything else, we arm our kids with what we can and trust that we've done a good enough job to help them learn to question stereotypes. My three year old did this once in a toy store, when i was buying her some stuff for her train set A woman on line said to me, "Oh, you must have a son at home," and i just played dumb and said, "What makes you think that?" She said, "Isn't that who the trains are for?' and dd piped up, "They're for me!" and proceeded to tell this woman everything she knew about trains!!!

Has anyone else noticed that some moms allow their boys to "get away with" innappropriate behavior with the "boys will be boys, they need to get out their energy" excuse? i go out to lunch weekly with a group of friends and their kids (dd is the only girl) and two of the boys there are allowed to run around the table when they are done eating, and even CRAWL UNDER the table to play!!! The moms rationalize it with, "well, it's just Wendy's, and they have so much energy." Meanwhile, dd and the other two boys there sit at the table and play with crayons or small toys when they are done eating. This drives me crazy, is it just me???
post #26 of 39
Peacemama, it's just laziness on the mom's part when they don't make their child get out from under the table. When we have lunch at the mall after playgroup, the kids (mainly the boys) will want to run around. My ds doesn't initiate it, but he is all for it once someone else starts. I always make my ds get back in his chair, even if it means cutting off my conversation. There is one particular mom who doesn't attend often who lets it go on until she is done with her conversation, then she yells at her son to stop. I do mean yell. It's embarrassing.
post #27 of 39
Peacemama, I know what you mean about excusing socially unacceptable behavior in boys. This drives me crazy, as well as the reverse, expecting girls to be well-behaved all the time and submissive, etc. While the possibility exists that "boys will be boys," this does not mean that one should not correct unacceptable behavior. I feel that parents who let their boys run unchecked with this sort of attitude are doing their children a great diservice (sp?). KWIM?
post #28 of 39
I think so, too, paula bear. And I feel sorry for the future kindergarten teachers of these kids (I can't help but think like that, as I'm a teacher, too!). There is a group of four or five very wild boys in dd's class at preschool and she tells me about it all the time. I've seen the leniency of their parents at playdates and birthday parties, so it seems that they fall into this particular categiry we're describing. It makes school a less secure place for her than it should be, and that bugs me.
post #29 of 39
I also hate it when parents let their sons get away with all sorts of nonsense because they are boys. You still have to parent them!!!

The flip side of this is when the same parents say how easy we have it because our children are girls, or even worse, say that we have it easier now but it will be harder for us once they are all teens.

At the same time, many of the little boys we know, even the ones with parents who are doing a good job, come up with all sorts of ideas that would never occur to my girls-- mostly involving climbing on things that should not be climbed on and the jumping off. :
post #30 of 39
Just for the record, my dd loves to climb on things and sometimes jump off, too.

You know what I really hate? When people "warn" dh of his scary future job of protecting dd from all the boys that will supposedly be lining up outside our door...you know, "Oh, dude, you're gonna have to run them off with a baseball bat..." Somehow these comments creep me out, as if these guys are already thinking of my dd as a sex object.
post #31 of 39
Peacemama, I know exactly what you're talking about. When DD was a newborn, people (99% male, BTW) would make those sorts of comments and I felt very insulted and wanted to protect my precious DD from such an early assault of sexism. Whenever people commented on DD's beauty, we tried to acknowledge it politely and then point out other positive aspects of her being. We do not want her to grow up believing that her looks are the most important facet of her being. But I agree that it is somewhat perverted to make those sort of comments about a sweet little baby. YUK!
post #32 of 39
I just wanted to clarify that I used the term
"gender neutral" as a way to describe an effort that parents make to combat gender bias in society.

I used the term because at the time I couldn't think of a better term off hand, and I was in a hurry to get my post typed.

I did not, however, mean to use the term "gender neutral" as an interchangeable term with "androgenous," which is commonly used to mean a person who has equal parts male and female identified traits, though it is also sometimes used to mean a person who has neither male or female identified traits (actually, there is a word for each case, but generally people use androgyny to mean either/or).

So the difference in terms is that one is an effort parents make, and the other is a term about characteristics we can observe in a person.

If someone was making an effort to raise their children with gender neutrality as I used the term in my first post, this could result in a child with a range of options, androgyny not the only option.

Just wanted to make sure I was on the same page with everybody. Sorry to interupt.

post #33 of 39
Linda in Arizona, I remember a few years ago reading an article which talked about a "competition" between male ballet dancers, football players, gymnasts, etc., and the ballet dancers out did the more "masculine" sports in pretty much every category -strength, endurance, etc. I wish I knew where I read it, so I could find it. Oh well...
post #34 of 39
<<I remember a few years ago reading an article which talked about a "competition" between male ballet dancers, football players, gymnasts, etc., and the ballet dancers out did the more "masculine" sports in pretty much every category - >>

That is so interesting!

Some times I get the feeling that people think that I'm not being "true to the cause" or something because the girls are in ballet, wear dresses a great deal, play with dolls, etc. The things is, my kids have lots of options and these are their choices. Now they are the getting interesting in Tae Kwon Do we are checking into and trying to find a class for them. I think that some people think raising girls to be strong means not letting them do anything traditionally done by girls and women, which to me is still sending the message that traditional women's things are less important or worthy. Does this make sense? I just want my kids to feel free to make these kinds of choices and know that what ever they decide is just fine.
post #35 of 39
My son (5 years old), wanted to wear one of my daughters dresses. It's a pretty flowered flowing twirly-kind of a dress. He loved it! He played for hours in it. He enjoyed feeling 'pretty'. My daughter has alot of lovely dresses from friends and family, and I try to balance it with colorful and interesting clothes for our son. Still, they don't quite compare. On that day, he was playing 'catch up', and had a ball!

I took a picture for memory sake.

Later, when he said that he wanted to wear it at school, well.. I just said that this was something he could do at home.. I didn't want him to get any flack for it, any embarrasment. I wanted this to be just what it was.. innocent love of beauty!

As for boys will be boys.., my son is a boy with his love of trucks, pretend spears (we are vegetarian and he loves to pretend to hunt!), etc.. But, he loves gentle things too. I made him a doll when he was little, and he never played with it. Our daughter on the other hand loves it! So..
post #36 of 39
Linda In Arizona, I know exactly what you mean! Some parents of girls get so carried away with the "gender equality" thing that they actually treat "girls' toys" like they are bad, and "boys' toys" like they are the preferred thing. All types of play have value, and to not let a girl dress up in a tutu if she wants to is just as bad as telling her she can't play baseball because it's for boys. Kids should be allowed to choose the activities they enjoy. My three year old daughter has recently become interested in "girly" dress-up clothes and the color pink, and I'm actually loving it because I know she likes those things just because she LIKES them, not because she has had them pushed upon her. I love to see her taking care of her baby dolls as much as I love to see her play with her trains or dinosaurs.

For excellent reading, try "Growing A Girl" by Barbara Mackoff - it is the best book I have read on the subject of parenting girls so that they do not become victims of gender stereotyping.

Also, sanna (and anyone else who may enjoy it), a great movie about a child who challenges traditional notions of gender roles is "Ma Vie En Rose (My Life In Pink)" a French film that was just great, about a boy who wants to grow up to be a girl, and how his family deals with it.
post #37 of 39
I'll have to track down that book! Another good one is Great Books for Girls: More than 600 Books to Inspire Today's Girls and Tomorrow's Women by Kathleen Odean. This is a reference book to children's literature that has strong female characters -- your library most likely has it
post #38 of 39
in reference to the book suggestion, the other day dd asked me to find her some books about 'girls who are smart'. couldn't really find anything with a search on the library computer with the keywords smart and girl, so i asked the librarian -- she found me a nice list the library compiled of non-gender-role picture books (the four gallant sisters is a great rewrite of an old fairy tale), plus the book linda mentioned.

one of the books i brought home was called sally ann thunder ann whirlwind crockett - a tall tale about a girl who could do all sorts of things since infancy -- but that one disappointed dd - she thought sally looked strong but not very smart.

i was tickled that dd wants "smart" girls books in particular!!
post #39 of 39
It just goes to show how screwed up we have become as a society when we worry that our girls are taking ballet and tap instead of karate. If we let our kids choose what they enjoy, how can we go wrong.

BTW, this isn't directed toward anyone here. Linda's post made me think, and take a look at some of the parents that I know. Some try so hard to be "politically correct" these days that they are concerned if their daughters lean toward feminine activities, as if they have failed them as parents. Crazy!
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