|Um, because that's included in every history book I've ever read? Have you seen Sleepy Hallow? Read the Declaration of Independence? Turned on cable? Watched a historical film? I'd be hard pressed to know that girls did anything other than linger on their fainting couches in all of human history if these books didn't exist. Of course, there are multiple feminist critiques of American Girl too, like the fact that all the slaves are always smiling as they toil away...
Um, Sleepy Hollow is a very stylized movie, I wouldn't look to it for historical accuracy. I've read the Declaration of Independence, but since I'm not American, it doesn't mean a whole lot of me. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms doesn't use "man" as an inclusive term.
Historical films are big hits around here, like Master and Commander, precisely because they show the ordinary boy experience of history, far more than in most books I have found for ds. History books (the old style) are about Great Men doing Great Things, and rarely have any details about boys lives any more than girls lives. They don't have boys doing silly, or stupid, or scary things, or just being boys. There's rarely anything more for ds to connect to on a personal scale than there is for me.
|However, I'm concerned that so many people are apologists for labeling cool childhood adventures with gender and justifying that labeling by saying that we also did it in the past. :
Gender typing them just labels the *kids* that are reading them as gender nonconformists (rather than just a label for the book). When that's not the truth at all, since many boys will like the boys book just as many boys will hate those types of activities. But darn it, those boys that don't *will* get the message that they're suspect as true boys. As they are
Part of the problem with this for me is that I don't think that gender stereotyping is the same thing as gender roles, and I do think there are realistic gender roles (very fluid and not exclusive, but are there nonetheless.)
I come from a culture and background that is very different than mainstream America, and one thing I have noticed with regards to gender discussion in North America is the assumption that gender roles and meanings are the same all over the world, in every culture and every class, and this is just not true. In my culture (Irish Catholic, my parents immigrated to Canada just before I was born), boys and men are seen as silly and almost useless, their main purpose is to work and make money, and the rest of the time they have to be entertained and are basically infantilized. Women make all the decisions and do all the "real" work (my father, at the age of 66, has still never written a cheque. When my mom died, he didn't even know which bank held the mortgage to his house.) What is taken for granted here as "girly" (being silly, obsessed with personal appearance, clothes, boys, etc) was definitely not acceptable as girly behavior back in North Belfast. Any girl who had nothing better to do than her hair was seen as wasting her life and cheating her family from the work she should be doing.
So basically, don't assume that the assumptions being made by the author are the same ones you are making, or reflect your cultural understanding.