Raising Girls in a Misogynistic Culture - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 66 Old 09-10-2010, 11:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm an egalitarian who actually used to think, before having kids, that sexism was getting rarer and rarer in America these days. Then I had children, and first off I learned that some people see it as "immodest" for a mother to just lift her shirt and feed her hungry baby or child.

In the ten years since having my older dd, I've become increasingly aware of how the standards of modesty are much harder on girls than on boys. I was recently confronted by a 12yo at our neighborhood playground because it upset and disgusted her than my 5yo fell down and her dress when up, and she got a glimpse of dd's butt-cheek.

This girl's offense seemed especially ludicrous to me when I considered that she wasn't the least bit concerned that her own little brother was running around in pants so big they kept falling down and exposing his underwear...

Of course, it's easy enough to put shorts on under dresses for my 5yo, though it kind of annoys me that some people would get so worked up about a little girl playing and not being all self-conscious and prim about her dress -- but this isn't the only little drop of sexism I'm witnessing.

True, we are mainly dealing with a lot of comments from a group of playground bullies at the moment -- but I can't help realizing that these views are not just confined to this one group of kids.

One of the bullies was recently getting onto my 10yo for "swinging with her legs apart" -- the bully, a girl herself, called my dd a "he-she." I've had to encourage dd to tell these kids it's none of their business when they question her about her bathing habits or wonder why she's "dusty."

She simply loves playing outdoors and getting super wild with it sometimes ... and I'm kind of glad she's not "settling down" and becoming sedentary like some of her peers, even though she is now 5'2" tall and weighs 120 lbs and has some breast and hip development.

The other day dd1 commented that it wasn't fair that the boys could pull off their shirts to cool down when they were hot and sweaty at the playground, and no one said a thing, but she "couldn't." I agreed that it wasn't fair, and I also said that she probably literally "could" take off her shirt -- but that it would attract a lot of attention that I didn't think she would want, and she agreed that it wouldn't be a good idea.

I know this issue is really hot in my mind right now because of the various difficulties we've encountered with this one group of kids who frequents the playground -- but it's honestly not "just" about them. I've encountered other people who seem to think it's "disgusting" for girls and women not to be extremely conscious at all times about modesty, but think nothing about a shirtless man jogging down a public street.

I feel like I want to help my girls avoid unnecessary problems, which probably means it's a good idea for my little one to wear shorts under dresses, but at the same time I want to raise empowered young women who aren't willing to cower in some corner to fit into someone else's idea of a "modest young lady."

I welcome everyone's input and stories!

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#2 of 66 Old 09-10-2010, 11:25 PM
 
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There's definitely sexism out there, no doubt about it. Women have come a long way, but there's still a long way to go.

As I get older, though, I'm starting to realize that there ARE differences between the sexes, and that those differences can be very good.

I remember a friend of mine saying, after she had her baby, that she felt it was her DH's job to take care of her so she could look after their baby. I mean, it sounded so old fashioned--but it was her mama instinct and it's what her family needed.

And here I am, a woman who LOVES her job, contemplating taking a good long while off to stay home and raise DD. I would never, ever have guessed I'd feel that way, but suddenly I'm reassessing my priorities and my career isn't at the top of the list. I'm not saying mothers should stay at home--I just mean it's what feels right for me.

I also remember when I first started my job and was part of an all-male team on a project involving a very testosterone-fueled client. I felt so left out. The guys would joke and talk without me, and everything centred around being a man and being tough. I went to speak to my boss--a very strong, very confident, very feminine woman--and she told me they weren't doing it on purpose to leave me out. They were being men, they were bonding, they NEEDED to interact that way. And she assured me my talent and input were valued. The man in charge of the project even came to speak to me to reassure me he never meant to leave me out. I later realized that men work one way, and women another--but that's OK and even very beneficial. As I said earlier, I LOVE my job. I just needed to think about the situation differently.

I don't know if this is exactly what you meant, but I thought I'd add my 2 cents' worth from my experience. I also live in a pretty progressive city, so I don't see too much sexism around home.

ETA: I reread your post and realized you were speaking specifically about modesty. Sorry if I went way off topic!

Woman, Wife, Mom to beautiful DD (10/14/09), Copywriter, occasionally tearing my hair out but usually pretty happy about it all
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#3 of 66 Old 09-11-2010, 02:18 AM
 
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Interesting question.

I'm coming at it from a very different angle, as we are more complementarian than egalitarian, and we're raising boys (so far). Also, dh comes from a *way* more male-dominated culture than the US, and we're still working things out--in many ways he's incredibly progressive, but in other ways he doesn't realize how much the culture affected him (and he'd say the same about me, but in reverse, being conservative but still influenced by US culture )

Rather than focus on "You can/can't do this because you're a boy/girl" we focus on personal responsibility.

In a way, we believe in equality more than some would assume. Most things a girl in our family wouldn't be allowed to do would be because we do not approve of it or agree with it period, for boys or girls. I would make sure a daughter of mine was well covered. But I make sure our sons are well covered--they wear as much for swimming, for instance, as any daughter would (tshirt and shorts). In our family boys *don't* run around shirtless, or with their pants hanging to the ground. We wouldn't approve of a 16 yo boy running around at all hours of the night any more than we would a 16 yo girl doing so. If we have daughters they will be under as much expectation as boys to work hard in school and continue their education as far as possible. Although we believe that there are different gender roles overall, most of these issues have to do with morality and ethics and nothing to do with gender.

What I find annoying is thoughtless "macho" attitudes. Stuff like--a boy might be "turned gay" if he plays with a pink car or a baby doll, men shouldn't cook, men don't sew, women aren't capable of [insert activity] but men are(which is very different, IMO, from our understanding of different callings/vocations for men and women)
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#4 of 66 Old 09-11-2010, 02:20 AM
 
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I will admit, my hot button issue of late, once I cannot escape even here on MDC, is the idea that good, healthy girls will not enter puberty. I see this having an impact on my innocent daughter, who has started on that journey at 8 (right on target for getting her period at the same age I did) and who has already started to ask questions as to why puberty is "bad".
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#5 of 66 Old 09-11-2010, 06:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for all these thoughtful responses!

Tway -- I agree with you that there are differences between the sexes. I just think (and get the impression that you also think) that the way these differences play out in individual lives will vary from person to person and family to family.

I was a full-time SAHM for ten years, and now I am a part-time WAHM. I think anyone who would dictate that every couple has to split every responsibility 50/50 is being just as intrusive as the extremists who say that a woman who works for any employer besides her husband is essentially prostituting herself by helping a man she is not married to to further his dominion goals.

My femininity is a wonderful thing, and it's something that I'm continually learning about and experiencing with my husband and family -- not something that anyone else has the right or ability to define or prescribe.

cappuccinosmom -- I think it's neat that you don't have any moral double standards! One thing that has seemed so incongruous to me ever since I became a mom is the way that some people think it's "gross" or indecent for a mother to let down one side of her swimming top to nurse her baby at a public pool, but no one thinks a thing about men going completely topless!

I've also heard people equate a woman breastfeeding in public to a man exposing his penis, and it honestly seems like these people see the entire female body as the equivalent of one great big penis, there is just so much that we have to cover up and be self-conscious about in order to be seen as sufficiently "modest."

Tigerchild, I'm sorry that your dd has got the idea that puberty is "bad!" I wonder why our sexuality is so celebrated in some cultures, and met with so much fear and sadness in our own!

I've been reading a book by Steve Taylor titled The Fall: The Insanity of the Ego in Human History and the Dawning of A New Era -- and he says there is a positive correlation between the degree of sexual freedom in a society, and the status of women.

Apparently cultures that place a high premium on virginity and chastity have a very negative view of the female body and see it as a sinful and dangerous thing. I had never thought of it this way before and will probably need to do more research to come to my own conclusions, since I do find myself feeling very protective of my girls' sexuality and their innocence.

Yet I imagine cappuccinosmom feels just as protective of her boys' innocence! At the same time, I have met some people with very strong sexual double standards.

I.e., my former neighbor was dealing with constant pressure from her ex husband and his sister to give him custody of their daughter -- their rationale being that if the daughter stayed with her mom she was sure to get pregnant at a young age, since her mom (as well as her mom's sisters) had got pregnant very young. Never mind that the ex was the one who got her pregnant!

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#6 of 66 Old 09-11-2010, 10:23 AM
 
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I can totally see where you're coming from...but, IMHO, sexism applies to both sexes.

You commented on boys being "allowed" to take off their shirts. That bothers me as well, but for different reasons. When a commercial comes on that shows a woman as nothing but a sex object people jump up and scream about women's rights and how she's being degraded. However, when it's a man (like MOST of the Axe commercials) most people are quiet and laugh about it. It's a double standard that bothers me. In sitcoms/TV shows when the mom is single it's perfectly fine and even celebrated (yay, single mom, woman power!!) but if it's a single dad there are numerous episodes dedicated to him dating and needing to find a partner.

We've all seen this one on here before: If a girl wants to play with trucks and wear blue no one bats an eye and jokes about her being a "tom boy." However, if a boy wants to play house or likes the color pink people start commenting that it "needs to stop" because he might "turn out gay" or comment that he's weird or something.

I'm under the belief that virginity is something to be cherished and saved for the marriage bed...but I don't view the female form as negative or anything. I also don't think it's only girls that should save themselves and be modest. My DH was a virgin when we got together and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. IMO, boys are under more of an expectation to be "experienced" and "worldly" when it comes to sex and women. I don't see it so much as girls need to be innocent.

I know I'll come out as a minority for this post. *shrugs* I usually do.

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#7 of 66 Old 09-11-2010, 10:31 AM
 
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AFWife, some of those issues are still exampes of sexism of women/girls. It's like the masculine way/form/color/whatever is "better", so it's natural for girls and women to want that, but for men/boys to have any interest in something feminine is to have an interest in something "worse" or beneath them. I still see that as an issue of a societal message of masculine = better and feminine = worse.

And sexuality in men is generally handled as an assumed thing and therefore doesn't receive shock, whereas women who appear sexual are shunned as slutty. It's like of course men are sexual (duh, no biggie), and at the same time how dare women be sexual.

Anyway, yes I do worry about this with regard to my girls. I already have had one family member comment on my 8-year-old dd's "modesty" in dress, or I guess lack thereof. She didn't think my dd should wear a tank top on a really hot day. She isn't even beginning to develop, but honestly even if she were, there's nothing wrong or obscene about a developing girl.
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#8 of 66 Old 09-11-2010, 11:25 AM
 
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As a new mom to a baby girl, Ive been thinking about this quite a lot lately. There is one thing that really bothers me. I hate it when I see little girls squatting down to play and someone comes a long and tells them to close their legs. I feel like a lot of things that adults expect young girls to do/ not do really hinder us as we get older. For example, in the squatting situation, girls usually stop squatting for play around the age of 8. Boys continue that behavior until they are 12-13 years old, when it becomes uncool to play with stuff on the ground. Who do you think has stronger legs at that age?

I feel like our society shuns girls for being sexually liberated, and praises men for being that way. Most of the time, men are encouraged to have sex, even in middle school and high school. If a girl brags about how many guys shes "banged", shes a slut. If a guy does it, he's a hero.

When I go down the toy aisles at any big box store and visit the "Aisle o Pink" and the "Aisle o Blue" it is really disheartening to me. I dont understand why our society teaches girls to love dolls that are called things like "Tanning Barbie"? The blue aisle is so action based and the pink aisle is full of toys that encourage sedentary play. (I know most moms here at MDC are not encouraging this, Im referring to a large portion of society). I really think that it would be possible for our society to lessen sexism greatly by staying out of stores that are trying to tell us how and who our daughters should be.

nak, so Ive gotta cut this short.

I did read a really good book a few months ago called, "Why Gender Matters", by Leonard Sax. I feel like he does a really good job discussing the differences between boys and girls, along with his ideas for raising girls to be strong, independent, women.

♥anyway, thats my 2 cents. Hope it didnt offend anyone♥
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#9 of 66 Old 09-11-2010, 09:30 PM
 
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I've actually been more worried about the expectations for little boys. There seems to be such a lack or respect in our culture for men and dads, they are almost always shown as buffoons of some kind. And while I see a lot of good role models for girls around, good ones for boys actually seem a little more scarce - good boys who are good students or kind always seem to get labeled as nerds.

I was talking to a fiend of mine about kid's activities recently, and she wondered if my ds, who is a baby, might play hockey. She was shocked when I said I thought I'd see how he liked ballet at the school my dds attend. But no one would blink an eye if the girls were in hockey.

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#10 of 66 Old 09-11-2010, 09:46 PM
 
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I was talking to a fiend of mine about kid's activities recently, and she wondered if my ds, who is a baby, might play hockey. She was shocked when I said I thought I'd see how he liked ballet at the school my dds attend. But no one would blink an eye if the girls were in hockey.
When DS kicked a lot in my belly I got a ton of "Oh, he'll be a soccer player" and I always replied, "Eh, maybe a dancer like his mama" and got weird looks.

Uh, have you SEEN dancers? They're athletes too!

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#11 of 66 Old 09-11-2010, 10:01 PM
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It's a tough world for both boys and girls. I think they need sports/activities/hobbies to boost their self-esteem .

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#12 of 66 Old 09-11-2010, 10:28 PM
 
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OP, I've had the same concerns. My DD is high energy, adventurous and curious. She was a climber as a toddler and still runs and jumps and climbs. I don't want to discourage this. At the same time she likes to wear dresses, she plays with dolls and she loves all babies. I don't want to discourage that either.

Earlier this year she was playing with another boy. They had wrestled on the floor and jumped on a little trampoline. Then she asked him to climb inside a little tent and he refused because it was pink and "pink is for GIRLS!" When he said "GIRLS" his voice just dripped with contempt. I was shocked and completely dismayed. I totally didn't expect it. I felt so disheartened. DD just ignored it and then jumped on him and they went off to play some more. But I can't help but wonder how she can NOT internalize that in some way. As a mama, it's a challenge.
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#13 of 66 Old 09-11-2010, 11:06 PM
 
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Even i don't like wearing dresses/skirts because i am always so self concious and have to constantly make sure i sitting well, that ds doesn't pull up my dress etc...I don't think there is anything wrong with girls wearing dresses and playing, a lot of it depends on the length of the dress or skirt, i used to wear shorter skirts, above my knee, but now that i'm older i will wear at the knee or below and my ds still like to play with dress, so i just prefer pants most the time. I do think some skirts/dresses are too short when girls that are 8 or so are wearing mini skirts and playing on the monkey bars, that is just not appropriate imo.

I don't have a girl as of yet, but i will teach her some modesty and not allow her to wear really short skirts or ultra revealing clothes, um ever as long as she's living in my house...

With ds I don't feel that much pressure as far as clothing goes, but generally boys clothes are baggier and cover everything up, if the clothing roles were reversed, i wouldn't want my son or daughter wearing provocative clothes, now what they do when they are out of my house/adults is their own business.

I do know that all through junior high/high school there were strict dress codes on the lengths of skirts/shorts girls could wear and they would be sent home if the rules were broken.

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#14 of 66 Old 09-11-2010, 11:24 PM
 
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First of all, I'm definitely coming from a different place than many on this thread, because not only is "modesty" (in the sense of keeping body parts covered up) not a virture I place value on, I don't think it's a virtue at all.

That said, I especially don't understand this at all:
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Originally Posted by ILoveMyBabyBird View Post
I do think some skirts/dresses are too short when girls that are 8 or so are wearing mini skirts and playing on the monkey bars, that is just not appropriate imo.
And, this:
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With ds I don't feel that much pressure as far as clothing goes, but generally boys clothes are baggier and cover everything up,
just makes me laugh. DS1 has just started wearing less baggy jeans, so only the top inch or so of his boxers is visible. When he was wearing the baggier ones, the top several inches of his boxers were visible, and his baggy jeans often dropped halfway down his bum. It makes no difference to me, and my only concern is/was that I thought it looked ridiculous (but I'm not into fashion, and never have been). If I were concerned with the modesty issue, his baggier jeans were a much bigger "affront".

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I do know that all through junior high/high school there were strict dress codes on the lengths of skirts/shorts girls could wear and they would be sent home if the rules were broken.
What kind of rules did the boys have?

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#15 of 66 Old 09-11-2010, 11:28 PM
 
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I can totally see where you're coming from...but, IMHO, sexism applies to both sexes.

You commented on boys being "allowed" to take off their shirts. That bothers me as well, but for different reasons. When a commercial comes on that shows a woman as nothing but a sex object people jump up and scream about women's rights and how she's being degraded. However, when it's a man (like MOST of the Axe commercials) most people are quiet and laugh about it. It's a double standard that bothers me. In sitcoms/TV shows when the mom is single it's perfectly fine and even celebrated (yay, single mom, woman power!!) but if it's a single dad there are numerous episodes dedicated to him dating and needing to find a partner.

We've all seen this one on here before: If a girl wants to play with trucks and wear blue no one bats an eye and jokes about her being a "tom boy." However, if a boy wants to play house or likes the color pink people start commenting that it "needs to stop" because he might "turn out gay" or comment that he's weird or something.

I'm under the belief that virginity is something to be cherished and saved for the marriage bed...but I don't view the female form as negative or anything. I also don't think it's only girls that should save themselves and be modest. My DH was a virgin when we got together and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. IMO, boys are under more of an expectation to be "experienced" and "worldly" when it comes to sex and women. I don't see it so much as girls need to be innocent.

I know I'll come out as a minority for this post. *shrugs* I usually do.

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#16 of 66 Old 09-11-2010, 11:35 PM
 
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I think sexism definitely covers both sexes... often in the same ways and I'm not sure I buy that its just a matter of 'boy things are better which is why its okay for girls'

Girls are still expected to be quiet and sweet and smart and studious. To like playing house and dancing in dresses. Fairies and pink and modesty and not being sexual. However, we also can no longer 'just' be stay at home moms. Despite being taught to be quiet and frail and given toys that really help us learn to be moms and cooks and all the things needed for a stay at home mom, we also are looked down on if we settle. We still have to be strong and independent... and even though we are expected to be very pure and innocent, there is still pressure to be beautiful and sexy and APPEALING. We just can't USE it for anything and we will get harassment for it if we piss someone off.

Boys however are brought up hearing things like 'well he is a MAN... men are stupid/slow/confused.' men are bagged on SO MUCH in our society. I hear women ALL THE TIME saying huge generalizations about the male gender without even considering the consequences of continuing those stereotypes. Men can't multitask. Men don't understand emotion. Men are dirty. Men can only think about sex. Men don't know how to be sweet. Men don't notice anything. Its disgusting and frustrating that people talk about men in such a negative and unfair way.... often its the same people who also talk about how sexist our society is against woman (that isn't a jab at anyone here.) It just amazes me how quickly those phrases come off people's tongues. Often in joke form. On top of that, there is all the crap about the size of a man's penis. They are put down for thinking about sex, but they are taught that the penis is EXTREMELY important. They get the sexual double standard there too. EXPECTED to think about sex and always be ready FOR sex but also being called dogs or pigs for it. getting dirty, trucks, sports, anything NOT 'gay' 'girly' 'wussy' .. that is what a man is meant to live up to. Even body issues... men are eye candy. Men are expected to have nice muscles, to be STRONG. cosmo has a monthly 'man without his shirt on' page. fat men on tv are bumbling idiots who are funny and once in a while emotional. Their role is to be mocked for eating too much and loving food, for sitting around watching tv. Strong muscular men are usually portrayed as sexy and suave and often smart and capable. Sure, sometimes there the total idiot good looking men and the 'ugly' man is the real winner at the end... which of course starts the jokes about how a beautiful man must not be very smart and how fat guys can always get hot chicks.

Honestly, I think both sexes are pretty cruel to each other. I think the scale does tip more in favor of men, but I also think a lot of people don't even realize the sexist things that get said/done/assumed over men. although sometimes it can be convenient for men... my husband has tried to use them although I'm too smart to buy into it. 'I'm a man, I can't remember anything!' 'I'm a man, I don't understand why our anniversary is THAT important!' 'I'm a man, of course I'm going to try to have sex with you even if you are trying to get ready quickly' um... no honey. I know you better than that. You aren't like that and yes you are still a man. Quite trying to use excuses.

I'd also like to add another crazy double standard that isn't fair to men.

We recently went to a marriage retreat my husband's unit in the Army offered. A LOT of the discussion was on porn. there were times where we broke up into gender groups and on the day where porn was a main topic, that was of course what the women were talking about. MANY of the women agreed that they had SERIOUS issues with porn. They felt it was degrading to women, they felt it was weird that their husbands wanted to watch other people having sex. A lot of the conversation was focused on deployment, and they even felt like during the 12-15 months away, their husbands absolutely shouldn't be looking at ANY form of porn unless it was specifically their wife sending pictures/videos. One woman actually went so far as to say that any woman who says she is okay with her husband watching porn actually has a deep personal issue with self respect and self esteem because no sane woman would be okay with it.

However, there was talk about romance novels. There were lots of women with magazines like cosmo. Many women talked about how their problem with porn was that they didn't want the fantasy in their head while they were having sex with the reality of their wife... and yet MANY of the women read books that definitely get pretty graphic and with fantasy men. many women talked about 'sexy' men and celebrities in down time. There were plenty of sex jokes and I know MOST of those women masturbate during the year their husbands are gone. It absolutely BAFFLED me that it was okay for women to be into all sorts of sexual things with topless men and almost porn books... but their husbands absolutely were not allowed a porn magazine or redtube. I knew many of the women there... they definitely did not have the same standards for themselves as they did for their husbands.
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#17 of 66 Old 09-11-2010, 11:36 PM
 
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I can totally see where you're coming from...but, IMHO, sexism applies to both sexes.

You commented on boys being "allowed" to take off their shirts. That bothers me as well, but for different reasons. When a commercial comes on that shows a woman as nothing but a sex object people jump up and scream about women's rights and how she's being degraded. However, when it's a man (like MOST of the Axe commercials) most people are quiet and laugh about it. It's a double standard that bothers me. In sitcoms/TV shows when the mom is single it's perfectly fine and even celebrated (yay, single mom, woman power!!) but if it's a single dad there are numerous episodes dedicated to him dating and needing to find a partner.

We've all seen this one on here before: If a girl wants to play with trucks and wear blue no one bats an eye and jokes about her being a "tom boy." However, if a boy wants to play house or likes the color pink people start commenting that it "needs to stop" because he might "turn out gay" or comment that he's weird or something.

I'm under the belief that virginity is something to be cherished and saved for the marriage bed...but I don't view the female form as negative or anything. I also don't think it's only girls that should save themselves and be modest. My DH was a virgin when we got together and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. IMO, boys are under more of an expectation to be "experienced" and "worldly" when it comes to sex and women. I don't see it so much as girls need to be innocent.

I know I'll come out as a minority for this post. *shrugs* I usually do.
Actually I do (mostly) agree with you, although I am coming at it from the opposite angle! I don't think it is necessary to save sex for marriage or anything, but otherwise I am fairly well with you.
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#18 of 66 Old 09-11-2010, 11:47 PM
 
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I've actually been more worried about the expectations for little boys. There seems to be such a lack or respect in our culture for men and dads, they are almost always shown as buffoons of some kind. And while I see a lot of good role models for girls around, good ones for boys actually seem a little more scarce - good boys who are good students or kind always seem to get labeled as nerds.

I was talking to a fiend of mine about kid's activities recently, and she wondered if my ds, who is a baby, might play hockey. She was shocked when I said I thought I'd see how he liked ballet at the school my dds attend. But no one would blink an eye if the girls were in hockey.
I agree. Before I had kids, I would have told you that I was worried about raising a girl for the sorts of reasons outlined by other posters... but since having one of each I have to admit that I'm more worried about DS. It seems like girls can get away with a lot more than boys these days.

One of DS's favorite toys is his doll. He carried it around everywhere, and walks up and down the street with his doll stroller. I can't even tell you how many horrified looks and comments I've gotten. It's really been astounding to me. I live in a liberal, progressive area... but the idea of a boy with a doll (I'm sorry, wasn't that a trendy thing to force upon your son when I was a baby 30 years ago?) really seems to shock people.

He had some language and motor delays, and at 15 months my pediatrician referred him to EI. A few people told me sympathetic stories, but I'd say that at least 3/4 of the people who I mentioned this to completely brushed off the concerns, saying "Oh he's a boy. They're always late." "Boys are lazy." Or something along those lines... but ALWAYS about it being a specific boy problem.

From what I've read and heard from people with older children, boys get the short end of the stick once school starts. Redshirting is the norm here for boys, not so with girls. More girls graduate from high school and college. There was a really interesting editorial in the NYT a few years ago about boys being the new affirmative action recipients at college, because girls outperform them in so many ways that top tier colleges would be 75% female.

I'm not discounting the negative effects of our misogynistic culture at all, but I do think that it cuts both ways.

All that being said, yes OP I do worry. I think that our culture is actually more misogynistic than it was even when I was a kid. I think there is far more segregation of the sexes. I think that commercial interests are doing their best to make sure that we're all as categorized and subcategorized as possible. I try to avoid almost all childrens TV shows in part for that reason. I think that many of them have a subtle but very much present misogynistic overtones.

Trying to live a simple life in a messy house in a complicated world with : DH, DD (b. 07/07), DS (b. 02/09), and DD (b. 10/10)
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#19 of 66 Old 09-11-2010, 11:58 PM
 
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And I do agree that I don't think that miniskirts are appropriate for girls who are young enough to play on the playground. I think that high fashion trickles down to young girls much more so than to young boys, and that clothes that are appropriate for adults (or not, I don't really care) are NOT appropriate for kids who need to be able to move freely and run and play. I can't tell you how many young girls I see at the playground in little slip-on ballet flats or flipflops that they can't run in, in super tight skinny jeans that don't allow movement, in tiny miniskirts that they're constantly tugging down. I don't think that it's appropriate for kids of either sex to show underwear, but I can't say that I've ever actually seen a boy doing it. They still get to run around in sneakers and jeans and oversize t shirts. It's not even entirely a "modesty" issue, it's also a practical one. Those clothes just aren't practical to play in. You can't go down a slide in a miniskirt that rides up: your butt won't slide down the hot metal slide easily.

Again, I find this an issue of consumption more than pure misogyny. Companies make a lot of money selling "grown up" fashions to parents of little girls, so of course they do it. I guess I just don't understand what makes the parents think that $120 ballet flats from Crew Cuts that don't stay on are a good idea for the playground. And I'm happy to dress my DD in low-fashion but practical clothes for as long as she'll let me, but at the same time I know that when she starts getting teased for it I'll cave and buy her the stuff that "everyone else" wears. I just hope that it doesn't happen for a long time...

Trying to live a simple life in a messy house in a complicated world with : DH, DD (b. 07/07), DS (b. 02/09), and DD (b. 10/10)
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#20 of 66 Old 09-12-2010, 12:43 AM
 
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I have to say I'm always surprised at people who think sexism is a thing of the past. That is no more true than racism "being a thing of the past".

I mean hardly a day goes by when I don't hear and/or see blatant sexism, though what one considers blatant will vary from person to person. Though of course the more subtle forms of sexism can be more dangerous.

Yes of course, it does go both ways. I think many people are more bothered by anti-women sentiments because the crux of it is the assumption that women are second-class citizens, lacking, needing rescuing, codependent. Females have no agency in this line of thinking.
Whereas sexist statements against men are those that make them somehow appear more "feminine". i.e-when they appear too emotional, weak in any way, sensitive, nurturing, vulnerable, as a sex object, or yes, even liking the dread color pink. While it's still overbearingly anti-female, it is nonetheless very damaging to young boys trying to become men.

I have a son, 2.5, and I worry, because he is clearly a very sensitive guy. Yes, he is rough-and-tumble and very physical, likes "boy toys" and the like. But he also loves our cat more than almost anything, and he gets visibly upset when he sees other kids crying. I don't want to see these qualities shamed out of him.
And now we're expecting a girl. She's super-active in the womb, and when I said such, my sister said I had a budding cheerleader. I replied she'll probably be a soccer player! Funny that, my sister has always been so into any "girly" pursuit-makeup, nails, pink, flowers....and she has 2 sons with no plans for more kids. I was a huge tomboy, pulled the heads off Barbies and refused to dress in a skirt. Even every stuffed animal I owned was a boy!
And now a girl for me...I panic at the thought of a "girly girl". I'll be clueless!!
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#21 of 66 Old 09-12-2010, 12:49 AM
 
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And I do agree that I don't think that miniskirts are appropriate for girls who are young enough to play on the playground. I think that high fashion trickles down to young girls much more so than to young boys, and that clothes that are appropriate for adults (or not, I don't really care) are NOT appropriate for kids who need to be able to move freely and run and play. I can't tell you how many young girls I see at the playground in little slip-on ballet flats or flipflops that they can't run in, in super tight skinny jeans that don't allow movement, in tiny miniskirts that they're constantly tugging down. I don't think that it's appropriate for kids of either sex to show underwear, but I can't say that I've ever actually seen a boy doing it. They still get to run around in sneakers and jeans and oversize t shirts. It's not even entirely a "modesty" issue, it's also a practical one. Those clothes just aren't practical to play in. You can't go down a slide in a miniskirt that rides up: your butt won't slide down the hot metal slide easily.
Well, in our case, it has nothing to do with consumerism or fashion. DD1 has some beloved dresses and skirts that are "too short" for her now...about miniskirt length. She loves them, and she loves to play in them. So, she wears them. She finds them very comfortable, and she's certainly in a better position than I am to determine what's comfortable for her, yk?

She also goes to the playground after ballet sometimes, weather permitting. That means she's wearing tights, a leotard, and a ballet skirt...but not her ballet shoes, because she doesn't want to get them dirty.

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#22 of 66 Old 09-12-2010, 10:13 AM
 
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And I do agree that I don't think that miniskirts are appropriate for girls who are young enough to play on the playground. I think that high fashion trickles down to young girls much more so than to young boys, and that clothes that are appropriate for adults (or not, I don't really care) are NOT appropriate for kids who need to be able to move freely and run and play. I can't tell you how many young girls I see at the playground in little slip-on ballet flats or flipflops that they can't run in, in super tight skinny jeans that don't allow movement, in tiny miniskirts that they're constantly tugging down. I don't think that it's appropriate for kids of either sex to show underwear, but I can't say that I've ever actually seen a boy doing it. They still get to run around in sneakers and jeans and oversize t shirts. It's not even entirely a "modesty" issue, it's also a practical one. Those clothes just aren't practical to play in. You can't go down a slide in a miniskirt that rides up: your butt won't slide down the hot metal slide easily.
I totally agree. I hate that while shopping for my BABY they sell only low-rise jeans for her! Seriously, why in the world would an 18 month old sized kid need low rise jeans?

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#23 of 66 Old 09-12-2010, 02:11 PM
 
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She finds them very comfortable, and she's certainly in a better position than I am to determine what's comfortable for her, yk?
I'm with you 100%.

My DDs are 12 and 13 and have been brought up to be their own people and make their own choices. Some of the choices they make would cause the some of the posters here to shudder. Both my girls seems to bounce around in exactly how important *modesty* is to them. My 12 year old was a cheerleader last year and she also went to district in chess. She's comfortable being smart and being cute, and has missed the nasty culture message that she must choose one.

My 13 year old, who looks like an adult, still loves to swing. (She isn't a mini skirt kinda girl and seldom wears dresses at all, but I think that some posters have a limited sense of the overlap between childhood pursuits and adults bodies).

Of course sexism exist, but over the years we've found so many wonderful people and activities who are capable of seeing the kids as whole people that's it's really been a small issue.

And I agree with the moms of boys that their options for what is OK is more limited at this point in time than it is for girls.

I wouldn't dream of telling my children who they should be sexual with or the right moment in their lives for that. I have shared with them what I've noticed over the years, including that the republicans and church leaders the loudest about abstinence tend to be the ones who are discovered to have been screwing around on their spouses or having had sex with people ickily younger than them. This is an area where many people are not open and honest about they do and yet set a very high standard for others.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#24 of 66 Old 09-13-2010, 04:39 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for all these wonderful and thought-provoking responses!

I do agree that sexism hurts everyone, male and female. That's because misogyny hurts everyone, male and female. Each and every one of us has a unique combination of masculine and feminine traits, so rejection of the feminine really means rejection of everyone -- rejection of humanity.

I had lately been feeling mild annoyance toward dd's friend from across the street who she sometimes has a great time playing with, but who sometimes turns two-faced and disses her for being a girl. One day he informed her that girls are here because Adam got lonely, and boys are here to skateboard.

Dd told me she thought he was going to be sexist when he grew up, and I said it's hard to know what a young kid will be like when he's grown. I've just basically agreed with her that his rude behavior is really rude, and I've told her that it's up to her to decide whether it's worth it to keep playing with him at all.

Well, this morning dh went out to take care of our chickens and he saw a police car in front of dd's friend's house, and then dd's friend came walking up the street crying.

Dh put his hand on his shoulder and asked him what was wrong, and he said that his mother was feeling really sick and went to stay at her mom's house, and had her ex husband (he called him "my mom's ex husband," so I don't think it was his dad) come stay at their house while she was gone.

Well, this man went on a rampage and trashed their whole house and murdered their kittens.

So now I understand that the poor kid probably doesn't have a full deck to work with when it comes to learning how to respect women and girls. What a horrible thing to live through!

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#25 of 66 Old 09-13-2010, 10:02 AM
 
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Thank you for all these wonderful and thought-provoking responses!

I do agree that sexism hurts everyone, male and female. That's because misogyny hurts everyone, male and female. Each and every one of us has a unique combination of masculine and feminine traits, so rejection of the feminine really means rejection of everyone -- rejection of humanity.

I had lately been feeling mild annoyance toward dd's friend from across the street who she sometimes has a great time playing with, but who sometimes turns two-faced and disses her for being a girl. One day he informed her that girls are here because Adam got lonely, and boys are here to skateboard.

Dd told me she thought he was going to be sexist when he grew up, and I said it's hard to know what a young kid will be like when he's grown. I've just basically agreed with her that his rude behavior is really rude, and I've told her that it's up to her to decide whether it's worth it to keep playing with him at all.

Well, this morning dh went out to take care of our chickens and he saw a police car in front of dd's friend's house, and then dd's friend came walking up the street crying.

Dh put his hand on his shoulder and asked him what was wrong, and he said that his mother was feeling really sick and went to stay at her mom's house, and had her ex husband (he called him "my mom's ex husband," so I don't think it was his dad) come stay at their house while she was gone.

Well, this man went on a rampage and trashed their whole house and murdered their kittens.

So now I understand that the poor kid probably doesn't have a full deck to work with when it comes to learning how to respect women and girls. What a horrible thing to live through!
How terrible. The poor kid. Yeah, he obviously doesn't have very good gender models at home!

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#26 of 66 Old 09-13-2010, 12:18 PM
 
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A
When I go down the toy aisles at any big box store and visit the "Aisle o Pink" and the "Aisle o Blue" it is really disheartening to me. I dont understand why our society teaches girls to love dolls that are called things like "Tanning Barbie"? The blue aisle is so action based and the pink aisle is full of toys that encourage sedentary play. (I know most moms here at MDC are not encouraging this, Im referring to a large portion of society). I really think that it would be possible for our society to lessen sexism greatly by staying out of stores that are trying to tell us how and who our daughters should be.

♥anyway, thats my 2 cents. Hope it didnt offend anyone♥
~Holly~
And not only sedentary play, but play focused on unrealistic physical appearance, beauty, and being a "princess" saved by a prince (a man).
The boy toys always seem to encourage fighting and violence which I think can contribute to aggressive "machoism".

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#27 of 66 Old 09-13-2010, 01:13 PM
 
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My MIL really bugs me with this whole issue. She is overall a great grandma but very stuck in stererotypical gender roles. Maybe it's because she only had boys or her traditional southern upbringing but she insists that girl's only play with "girl toys" and wear "girl clothes". She only ever sends princess-themed pink stuff (I drew the line at Barbie). Honestly, she is bored with these toys after a few minutes. I have had to put a stop to things she would say to DD - "you don't want to play with that, it's for boys!" On her last visit she got upset at DD because she refused to wear pigtails or ribbons in her hair. "Don't you want to look nice? Don't you want to look pretty?" - I stepped in and stopped her right there - I mean really - she is THREE years old and we were going to the playground? Why on earth does it matter how "good" or "pretty" she looks?

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#28 of 66 Old 09-14-2010, 02:17 AM
 
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My MIL really bugs me with this whole issue. She is overall a great grandma but very stuck in stererotypical gender roles. Maybe it's because she only had boys or her traditional southern upbringing but she insists that girl's only play with "girl toys" and wear "girl clothes". She only ever sends princess-themed pink stuff (I drew the line at Barbie). Honestly, she is bored with these toys after a few minutes. I have had to put a stop to things she would say to DD - "you don't want to play with that, it's for boys!" On her last visit she got upset at DD because she refused to wear pigtails or ribbons in her hair. "Don't you want to look nice? Don't you want to look pretty?" - I stepped in and stopped her right there - I mean really - she is THREE years old and we were going to the playground? Why on earth does it matter how "good" or "pretty" she looks?
Just chiming in to say that I have the same problem with the IL's, although we have a 3 yr old boy. He wanted a play kitchen for Christmas last year, because he absolutely LOVES to help me cook in the kitchen. Granted, he helps me with real things at this point, and there's no need for the play kitchen. But when I told IL's this was what he wanted, the REFUSED to get it because "That's a girl toy". Um, hello, no it's not! It's a toy for children!

MIL also gets upset if he even so much as colors a pink picture. He happens to like how pink looks on paper. Not a problem for DH and I.

Also, he is athletic- very, very gifted athletically, and of course we encourage this since it is a natural talent. But IL's act as though it is his only quality of any value! If I say what a sweet boy he is, they say, "oh who cares! as long as he can hit the baseball" and stuff like that. They don't care how smart he is or anything else, just his athletic ability. It drives me bananas. We also got the "boys are lazy" comments since he did not walk until 14 months. We have a niece too, and they are horribly sexist when it comes to her too. She is supposed to be pretty and dressed perfectly at all times, can never get dirty, etc. They get super upset if she has a speck of food on her. Problem is, her mom is the same way. Grr.

I just wish in general our society didn't devalue both sexes. It makes me sad.
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#29 of 66 Old 09-14-2010, 08:29 AM
 
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I don't understand this problem with "showing your underwear". I have been reading some posts and I have to say I agree that it is a problem for both genders. I only have girls and they are little but we have already encountered multiple comments, attitudes and looks regarding their gender in relation to what they were doing or wearing. It worries me but I sincerely hope that what we do at home will have the bigger impact on them and I try to stay conscience of what I say and do to ensure I don't tell them something I wouldn't tell a son/male.

But this underwear thing keeps soming up. For the op I find it quite strange that anyone would be offended by a little 5yo accidentally exposing her butt or her underwear. I also would find it strange if someone were offended if I accidentally showed my underwear. I understand offense if I were purposely exposing myself and you found it lewd (sp?), but if I was wearing a skirt and squatted down to help my kids and accidently someone saw my underwear I would not care. Its underwear. I am not sitting there trying to flash anyone and I assume your 5 yo was not either. Same goes with an tween or teen for me.

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#30 of 66 Old 09-14-2010, 10:58 AM
 
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But this underwear thing keeps soming up. For the op I find it quite strange that anyone would be offended by a little 5yo accidentally exposing her butt or her underwear. I also would find it strange if someone were offended if I accidentally showed my underwear. I understand offense if I were purposely exposing myself and you found it lewd (sp?), but if I was wearing a skirt and squatted down to help my kids and accidently someone saw my underwear I would not care. Its underwear. I am not sitting there trying to flash anyone and I assume your 5 yo was not either. Same goes with an tween or teen for me.
Personally, if I knew I were going to be in a situation where my underwear had a possibility of showing (or if my daughter was in one...like going to the playground) I'd make sure that it was covered somehow. When I attended a private Christian school we had to wear skirts/dresses every Thursday for chapel...it wasn't unheard of for the girls to wear tights or bike shorts underneath so they could still run and play at recess...

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