Gender bias and our wee ones - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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Old 03-01-2002, 07:13 PM
 
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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!
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Old 03-01-2002, 08:56 PM
 
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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.

Sierra

I'm pro-adoption reform, but not anti-adoption.
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Old 03-01-2002, 10:05 PM
 
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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...
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Old 03-01-2002, 11:11 PM
 
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<<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.
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Old 03-01-2002, 11:31 PM
 
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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..
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Old 03-02-2002, 01:12 AM
 
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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.
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Old 03-02-2002, 05:00 AM
 
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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
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Old 03-02-2002, 06:04 PM
 
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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!!
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Old 03-02-2002, 06:06 PM
 
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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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