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Genders

post #1 of 141
Thread Starter 
I know that I'm going to be fried for this but...what's wrong with gender differences?

I don't see anything wrong with telling a little boy that panties are for girls, please put on your boxer shorts (or briefs or boxer briefs or Spongebob underoos). Or that make-up is for older girls and women, not little boys. Or with telling a girl to sit like a lady if her legs are spread. I'd tell my son that he can't wear a dress. When I was a little girl I wore earrings and lip gloss (well, Vaseline as a very little girl) on my lips every single day. My mother encouraged it, even reminded me if I forgot before I walked out the door.

I personally don't like pink, but I have no problem with "pink is for girls and blue is for boys." I wholly embrace my femininity and the softer side of being a woman, even though I'm tough as nails when I have to be. But every woman is when the need arises, even the softest, sweetest, meekest woman.

I see boys and girls as apples and oranges. Both sweet, both good for you, both equally delicious. But some prefer apples and some prefer oranges and that doesn't make either one less of a wonderful fruit. Each is just as good as the other, they're just different.

I want boys and girls to have equal opportunities in education, athletics and everything else. But I don't think that either gender has to dilute itself to make those oppertunities happen. What's wrong with genders being different from each other?
post #2 of 141
Well.... I think it's the rigid stereotypes that are harmful. I see definite differences in my son and daughter, but they are free to be who they are as people and to explore all kinds of things... my son has always enjoyed dressing up in silks and fairy wings, my dd loves to climb and dig in the dirt. I wouldn't feel comfortable discouraging these activities because they are part of who they are as individuals. I rty not to encourage my dd to be preoccupied with her appearance. At 12 she is just starting to wear a little lipgloss and that's fine because it's her choice.
post #3 of 141
I was going to say I was with you on this, but I'm sort of on the fence I figured out as I was typing this out. I'll be honest in this: I would never encourage my son to wear dresses. If he asked to wear one in public I would probably find it a bit strange, but I would have to find a way to explain it to him without sounding as if he is bad for wanting to wear a dress or it is bad to want to wear a dress, because when they are young it is just clothes and they don't see the labels we put on the world.

I do find it peculiar that a girl can wear pants nowadays and it's acceptable, but boys used to wear "dresses", but it's no longer acceptable. Time is so weird!

I would like to encourage a healthy femininity and my daughter sees my example and wants to be a girly girl already, but I think many girls go through a stage where dresses are pure evil and bows in the hair are horrible and they shouldn't be forced to wear them. I didn't like dresses because I felt they impaired me from all the running, horse riding, bike riding I was doing. But I enjoy them more as an adult.
post #4 of 141
I think that society will teach them enough about gender stereotypes; we make it a point not to be rigid in our home about such things. As I type this, my almost 3yo DS is asleep in his 5yo's sisters new dress; I bought dresses for the girls at Costco today, and he saw his 5yo sister put one on when we got home. He immediately took off his jeans and T shirt and asked, "Mommy, where's my new dress?" I told him that I hadn't bought him one, and he started to cry. His sister immediately told him that he could wear her other new dress. They danced and twirled around the living room together, then he went down for a nap. He is also sporting a crew cut (that's how Daddy wears his hair, and DS wants to be like Daddy) and pink fingernails- because his sisters have their nails painted and he wants to be like them, too.

One of my girls is very feminine- dresses, different hair style every day, wants to wear lipgloss, adores sparkly sandals, etc. The other is much more of a tomboy- she is most comfortable in clothing where she can move freely and loves flip flops that don't encumber her feet. She'd wash and comb her hair once monthly if I'd let her. We don't encourage or discourage femininity- they are what they are, and they are WHO they are. We're okay with both of those things.

I love that he admires and wants to emulate different family members. I think that the world will start dictating soon enough how he "should" dress. My girls wear dresses and jeans/T shirts. Why should my very young son be denied the same choices?
post #5 of 141
I don't agree with the precept that much of anything you listed is inherently feminine. It's virtually all a product of socialization and is largely arbitrary. It's not something I need to go strong on with my kid.
post #6 of 141
I beleive in embracing children for who they are naturally, not definining them by rigid gender roles. At the same time, I see nothing wrong with having a "girly girl" or a "boyish boy" if that's who they are naturally.

I also see nothing wrong with traditional gender roles being available for adults who choose to embrace them. I dress in very feminine ways and encourage my daughters to do the same. My oldest is required to wear dresses or skirts to school and my other daughter wears dresses or skirts almost constantly by choice. DS only wears pants when at school, out in public, etc. But if he wants to wear a dress for "playing dress up" that's fine with me!

I see a big difference between modeling traditional gender roles, and enforcing them on young children. If DD wants to dress up like Daddy or DS wants to dress up like Mommy, that's OK with me. If a young child of either gender wants to go to the supermarket in a Spiderman costume, or a sparkly pink fairy costume, or any other strange combination of clothes, that's OK with me.

By age 9 or so I expect kids to dress "appropriately" in public most of the time. If I had a child who felt drawn to cross-dressing, I'd figure out the best way to support that child- I'm not 100% sure what that would look like as that's not an issue I'm facing with any of my children.
post #7 of 141
I believe that each child has the right to decide what he/she wants to wear or play with.

My son loves to dress up as a princess or bride. There's no way that I'd tell him that he can't because he's not a girl. The only thing that I'd be worried about is how others would treat him if, say, he wants to wear Cinderella socks to school. I explain to him that some people think that Cinderella/gowns/dolls, etc are just for girls and may treat him differently or even be mean to him. Ultimately, I'll let him decide.
post #8 of 141
I hear what you're saying, OP, and don't have a good answer. There are so many gray areas in my mind. For example, I don't feel that pink is for girls and blue for boys (they're just colors!) but do agree that girls wear panties and boys wear undies.

Also, I think that you have to be really careful b/c a gender difference which is really innocuous and not a big deal can easily creep into an area where it IS a big deal.

For example, think of how many men FREAK that their 3 year old wants to play with dolls. My friends DH was upset that her DS was helping her string beads! So silly!!! And I've heard about men who get upset that their son wants a play kitchen! :

So while it may seem like no big deal that "boys wear blue" it becomes a big deal when the blue-wearing boy is not allowed to play w/ pretend food. I would just rather not focus on gender differences to begin with I guess.
post #9 of 141
I wouldn't try to MAKE a child do one thing or the other. If I have a daughter, she can be girly if she wants, or a tomboy, but both will be of her own choice. If I have a son, he can be macho or he can do more stereotypically feminine thingsl. I will embrace whatever interests them so long as it is safe and age-appropriate. I won't care either way as long as my children are happy. Of course I will teach them what is appropriate for school and public vs. home. I don't think it would sit to well with teachers/administration to allow my (hypothetical) son to wear a dress to school.... plus it could be a source of bullying by other children. At home, however, anything goes.

Even though I have always dreamed of having a daughter so I could dress her in girly things as a baby and when she's little, I wouldn't do it to the point where it's overkill (I'm not a fan of pink anyhow). Once she reaches the age where she can help pick out her clothes, I will simply be a guide (i.e. "well, you can't wear a bathing suit to school, but you can pick any color shirt/pants/dress/whatever") rather than making the decision for her.
post #10 of 141
For a long time I wore men's underwear, boxers and briefs, because they were way more comfortable than woman's for me. Nobody ever told me "you can't wear those because they are for boys" and whose business would it be to do so? So, in turn, if my son wanted to wear panties, or a skirt, or tights it wouldn't be mine or anyone else's business if he did. It's his body. Same would go for DD if she chose to wear or do something "boyish". As long as they aren't harming themselves or anyone else (and by harm I don't mean offend) then they can take on any role they choose.
ETA: DH and I just got into a debate over this a week ago. I bought DS a play kitchen for his 2nd birthday (which he loves, BTW) and DH was upset about it because a "play kitchen is for girls". I was very offended because my father just so happens to be an award winning executive chef!!
post #11 of 141
Don't have time to post much, but I just read this awesome book for class. It is called Gender Vertigo by Barbara Risman. She gets into the concept of "going gender" and what can go wrong with it.
post #12 of 141
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kama'aina mama View Post
I don't agree with the precept that much of anything you listed is inherently feminine.
In the interest of not pissing anyone off, I kept my examples deliberately vague and generic. There are quite a few things that I've read on these boards that everyone posted and said how cute they were that came to mind as being fantastic examples of gender dilution, but I'm not for bashing anyone's kid for any reason.
post #13 of 141
My dd recently asked me what boxer shorts were. She heard the term, and didn't understand it. I told her that boxer shorts are underwear made for boys, and explained what they look like. Now if my dd said "I want those" then I would have bought her boxer shorts instead of panties the next time we were buying underwear. I would never tell her she can't wear boxer shorts "cause she is a girl".

If I had a son I wouldn't tell him he can't wear a dress cause he is a boy. I wouldn't tell my son that make-up is for women, I would tell him that makeup is something people wear for fun, or decoration.

I think it's how we word things. I also wouldn't tell my dd to "sit like a lady" but if she is wearing a dress, and pulling at it or sitting with her underwear for all the world to see. Then I would tell her to keep her skirt down.

I'm not saying that I don't see differences between boys and girls, but at the same time I don't believe in ever saying A is for boys not girls, B is for girls not boys. I want to give my dd the freedom to choose and desire anything she wants. I don't want to place gender restrictions on her. They don't make sense to me. Why are dresses for girls, and not boys? If a boy wants to wear a dress does that mean he wants to be a girl, no. If a boy wants to wear a dress does that mean he is gay, no. My dd went threw a "no dresses" phase, does that mean she doesn't want to be a girl? It's just all silly to me.

I just personally believe that when we start saying certain things are for boys or for girls then that just leads to our children accepting other restrictions in the future.
post #14 of 141
Oooooh, I've got one!!!!

I've been told in not so many words, twice this year to be exact (two parent/teacher conference one on ones) that my son is "too sensitive". He is. He always has been. He always worries about others' feelings. We've always told our boys that it is ok to cry and to let it out. The thing is, that the teacher is fearing that he'll be picked on shortly (in the next couple of years) for crying outwardly and openly in class or on the playground. He's going to get beat up for crying and showing emotion.

You know what? As much as I dislike everything about that, a piece of me knows she is right. You know why? Because kids can be brutal. We all went to jr high and hs. She just wants him to buck up and use restraint and not openly cry. I almost agree w/her, at least in a school setting, but then what message am I sending him?

While it was off putting to hear, I did "get" the underlying message. It is a time worn message-boys don't cry. Like it or not, they just don't, or they have to fight to defend it. Then I find myself being....sigh.....thankful that he's already done pads football and wrestling, so that when the day comes that he gets picked on for crying in public, he will be able to defend himself. Then I just shudder as my next thought.

I feel like sometimes there is no win in certain gendered issues. He's going to be sensitive his whole life b/c that is part of what makes him who he is. He is also rough and tumble and will put you in a full nelson faster than you can say, OUCH!

I need to read this thread. I think it will help me, if not him.
post #15 of 141
My daughter has a pair of "boy" briefs. I wouldn't be surprised if my boy ends up with panties.

I know lots of older boys and men who wear make up. Both my kids play with make up and nail polish.

I don't agree with "sitting like a lady."

My girls wears pink and blue and every colour. So does my boy. So does every male and female adult I know.


Oh yeah and my boy has long hair.


I have no problem with gender differences. Having a son and a daughter, however, have shown me that there are very few, legitimate differences. In fact, my daughter is more stereotypically like a boy and my son is more stereotypically like a girl.

None of what you listed is specifically girl or boy. I will not limit my children in any way.
post #16 of 141
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by trinity6232000 View Post
I just personally believe that when we start saying certain things are for boys or for girls then that just leads to our children accepting other restrictions in the future.
But there are other restrictions in the future that they will have to accept. I don't much care for clothes. But I can't roam the streets naked. Being nude doesn't hurt anyone, but society expects for people to wear clothes so I'm restricted to my home for nakey time. We can't hit people, even if they suck. We don't spit our food on the floor of restaurants, even if it tastes awful. It's just not a done thing.
post #17 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by the_lissa View Post
My daughter has a pair of "boy" briefs. I wouldn't be surprised if my boy ends up with panties.

I know lots of older boys and men who wear make up. Both my kids play with make up and nail polish.

I don't agree with "sitting like a lady."

My girls wears pink and blue and every colour. So does my boy. So does every male and female adult I know.


Oh yeah and my boy has long hair.


I have no problem with gender differences. Having a son and a daughter, however, have shown me that there are very few, legitimate differences. In fact, my daughter is more stereotypically like a boy and my son is more stereotypically like a girl.

None of what you listed is specifically girl or boy. I will not limit my children in any way.
Bolding mine

I also like what a pp said about society doing it enough for us (strictly defining gender).
post #18 of 141
But why can't the boy have Dora panties if he is a Dora fan (they don't make Dora boxers), and why can't a girl wear boxers?
Sure there are differences between boys and girls but why should they be forced into artificial differences at a young age?
Little girls should sit quietly and walk sedately while the little boys run rampant? Unfair in my view.
post #19 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantaja View Post
In the interest of not pissing anyone off, I kept my examples deliberately vague and generic. There are quite a few things that I've read on these boards that everyone posted and said how cute they were that came to mind as being fantastic examples of gender dilution, but I'm not for bashing anyone's kid for any reason.
You say "gender dilution" as though there are essential categories of gender that have or can be been eroded over time. There aren't. Gender norms are cultural constructions, and different societies "perform" gender differently. In the US, pink used to be a "boys'" color and blue a "girls'" color and both genders used to wear dresses at young ages. So what does it mean to say that allowing boys to wear lots of pink or dresses is "diluting" gender; on the contrary, we might see it as a return to "traditional" gender norms.
post #20 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantaja View Post
But there are other restrictions in the future that they will have to accept. I don't much care for clothes. But I can't roam the streets naked. Being nude doesn't hurt anyone, but society expects for people to wear clothes so I'm restricted to my home for nakey time. We can't hit people, even if they suck. We don't spit our food on the floor of restaurants, even if it tastes awful. It's just not a done thing.

Yes, BUT I don't want my children to have to accept limitations because of GENDER.
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