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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Like most folks, I've always felt confined by conventional definitions of masculine and feminine. I've always tried to find my own way through the morass (not toeing the line, but also not reacting for reaction's sake).<br><br>
What I'm noticing now with my toddler is that I feel like I have to actively resist so much of what people/culture attribute to male and female for my Finn's sake. I feel like I have this ongoing conversation going on about what assumptions limit him (including my ideas about gender parity sometimes). I have to edit most of the books that we read as well as his interaction with others. While exhausting, I also feel somewhat invigorated by revisiting the question of gender in every aspect of life.<br><br>
I could go on and on, but would love to hear from other folks that feel this same struggle in their lives. Having Finn has definitely shifted my politics to a more concrete and critical level. Things have to change now as I don't want my kid growing up in a world where he's going to be limited in the emotions he can express, colors and clothes he can wear, interests he can have.<br><br>
Tell me about the ways that you subvert gender stereotypes in your life. Tell me how this works as they get older. Just let me know you're out there.<br><br>
Angie<br>
who just bought Finn a pair of purple Mary Janes and has spent too much time thinking about whether she should return them....
 

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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;"><i>Originally posted by LiminalOne</i><br><b>I feel like I have this ongoing conversation going on about what assumptions limit him (including my ideas about gender parity sometimes). I have to edit most of the books that we read as well as his interaction with others. While exhausting, I also feel somewhat invigorated by revisiting the question of gender in every aspect of life.</b></td>
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Bravo, Liminal One!!!<br><br>
My wee one is 3 months old and my partner and I are trying our best to keep things as unlimiting as possible. It is a struggle and I hear you loud and clear. We searched long and hard for a gender-neutral name. We have shunned a great deal of pink, frilly things (we are poor and rely on handouts so we end up not having a lot of choices sometimes). At the birth, I was determined to discover the gender at my own pace, sustaining the magical openness for as long as possible. So I requested that there be no declarations of, "It's a _____!" When we called our folks announcing the birth, we told them it was a baby....period. Etc. Etc. Like you, we don't want gender assumptions to limit anyone, including this child.<br><br>
I was reading a book to Toren the other day and found myself having to really edit my speech. In the book there was a picture of a mainstream family, it seemed. But then I looked again. Maybe the kid with the braids tied up was really a boy who loved his hair. Maybe the man playing the guitar was really the lover of the woman's brother....<br><br>
So, I ended up just describing the aspects of the people in the picture. "Look, this person is playing the guitar. This person has braids in their hair."<br><br>
One thing I've heard from folks around me is, "Don't you want Toren to know she is a girl?" Well, of course she will know her gender. I just want her to know that her gender doesn't necessarily translate into pink ballet slippers (fairly benign) or meekness (puh-leeze).<br><br>
I've always thought I was open minded about gender. Being with Toren has given me greater insight into my own assumptions. And I'm loving it.<br><br>
Like you, I'd like to hear from others who are choosing to actively deal with gender expectations with their kids. I feel so alone in this sometimes....
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hello ohmtaretu!<br><br>
Thanks for responding. You are right about how "insipid," for lack of a better word, our assumptions about gender and sexuality are. It continues to blow me away. I feel like I need to write my own books somedays, but then I would be adding my own assumptions to the pile; it's more about many perspectives than one right one probably.<br><br>
You know, it's funny, cause when I was pregnant I was sure I was having a girl, not so much from a feeling of physically connecting with the baby but b/c I didn't know what I would do with a boy. As a feminist, I could only imagine creating a butt-kicking female to add to the ranks of other she-roes out there. Having a boy, though not in my plans, has forced me to do a lot of important inner work about not equating tomboyism with equality (my equation when I was little) as well as getting a handle on emotional openness (including anger and sadness), which in modelling men I was trying (not very successfully, mind you) to stuff.<br><br>
I like your decision not to focus on the baby's gender after birth. I really feel like that becomes a defining moment (in other people's eyes).<br><br>
Onward march! Anybody else out there<br><br>
Angie
 

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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;"><b>not equating tomboyism with equality</b></td>
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Maybe someone can shed some light on something I've been curious about.<br><br>
Why does Gender Neutral seem to translate to masculine? My thinking is that since our society still values masculinity more than femininity (women still don't get equal pay for equal work), you're better off being mistaken for a man than for a woman. For that matter, you're still rewarded greater for acting masculine rather than feminine.<br><br>
I don't hesistate to put Toren in a baseball cap and deep blue pants. I guess I'm trying to broaden the way I and others view her. And I think I would do the same thing if she was a he. That is, I'd probably put him in some feminine clothes every now and then. But in all honesty this would be a lot harder for me and probably for other people my age to deal with.<br><br>
Okay, I know this is just a "dress up your baby" question and could seem a bit silly. But still, once we get past the dress up stage and get into more complex social interaction, I think the same rules will apply.<br><br>
(Maybe this issue would get more response in a Queer Parenting forum...?)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Let's talk about clothes and gender (as that's what started me down this road)<br><br>
ITA, ohmtaretu, about neutrality still having its roots in patriarchal culture. And, you're right, that it's not a small thing, choosing what your child can and cannot wear. What lies underneath our rules about appropriate clothing?<br><br>
It's much easier for me to imagine dressing a girl in everything out there (from shoes to hats), than it is to give Finn all of his clothing options. At first, I told myself, that dresses and girly shoes were non-functional and so why would anyone dress their kid in them (just a way of encouraging girls to be less physical), but then some friends have noted that they think that potty training is easier in a dress (we're not there yet) and I can see how much kids love sparkling, bright, beautiful things even when they are not functional.<br><br>
So, why not let Finn wear a dress (I don't have any in the house) if he wants to and especially if it makes potty training easier. And why not keep those purple mary janes. He does wear pink and now that he's older, I shop both sides of the aisle with him and let him choose his socks, etc.<br><br>
Anyone know the social history of clothing differences between men and women. I've always thought skirts had something to do with sexual availability and control (never been much for wearing them). They could hardly have been functional for pioneer women could they have been???<br><br>
Any parents with boys in dresses out there???<br><br>
Angie
 

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We don't have dresses but they do have ballet slippers that they love! And dance class starts in a couple weeks!<br><br>
I have been hoping that the "but you're a boy" issue doesn't lessen any of thier enthusiasm for plies and jetes! The class that I enrolled him in didn't even have clothing requrements for boys<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/rolleyes.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="rolleyes">: (okay my pronouns are confusing, both boys love to wear ballets slippers and tap shoes and dance, but only the 4 year old is starting class, not the 2 year old.)<br><br>
I love dresses. Even working as a camp counselor I often wore dresses. They are comfortable to hike in, since I don't wear underware you can pee standing up, I only have to pick one article of clothing, it always matches and I am dressed, it is hot in Kansas and they are cooler then tight shorts, better for vaginal health. But not so good for horseback riding!<br><br>
And although my boys don't own any dresses, they do wear my t-shirts, which is dress like, even out of the house.
 

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On the same topic, can I add a question? Can anyone recommend some good reading about gender-neutral parenting strategies? I'm mama to a 3 3/4 (that what he tells people) boy and a 13 month old girl.<br><br>
I've read Real Boys and loved it in terms of helping socialize our sons in ways that do not perpetuate the societal norms of boys stuffing their emotions rather than accessing them (for so many important reasons). Also, Reviving Ophelia I've heard is good for socializing girls to succeed academically...<br><br><br>
any ideas???
 

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p.s. I have a friend whose 4 year old son loves Barbies and likes to chose pink shoes and "girl" type themed birthday cakes...<br><br>
My son loves to play w/dolls and stuffed animals and likes typical girl things like dress up, etc... but he also loves to run, jump, and do more typical boy things as well.<br><br>
I think my desire to socialize him in a way that does not limit him in terms of gender appropriate activities (society will do enough of that) will contribute to his own mental health (and whomever he chooses as a partner someday, if he does chose to have one, will thank me!).
 

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Thank you so much for this thread! Although my girl does have a girl name, and if I have a boy I will give him a boy name, I will not treat my children differently in any other way based on gender.<br><br>
I waited at least 15 minutes before checking my daughter's sex when she was born. My mother was going crazy! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin"><br><br>
I have told everyone not to buy my daughter any clothes that they wouldn't want to see my son wearing.<br><br>
I have never cut my daughter's hair and I will not cut my son's hair either. If I have a son, I will have to have HUGE battles with my family over this.<br><br>
My children will all play with trucks and dolls, regardless of their sex.<br><br>
I do not believe in gender stereotypes AT ALL and I will do everything in my power to try to counteract society's enforcement of them.
 

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My ds is only 7 months so alot of the issues you all are dealing with haven't been a problem yet. but we ec so this winter i'm buying several simple dresses and some knee socks or winter weight tights that i can take the crotch seam out of so i can put him on the potty every 30 min - 1 hour without frezeing his tushie off.<br>
as for family my mom is constantly asking me "oh is this to girly?" "can he have dolls? " the clothes question is hard because i HATE pink. but of course he can have dolls. i want him to have dolls, to learn how to nurture. and for that matter if he wants to wear pink when he's older he of course can. and i won't even grimace at all that pepto bismal pink <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin">
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;"><i>Originally posted by mothernurture</i><br><b>On the same topic, can I add a question? Can anyone recommend some good reading about gender-neutral parenting strategies?</b></td>
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Hey Mothernurture,<br><br>
Sadly I don't have any gender-neutral parenting books on my "to read" list, cept Real Boys. I even looked through some feminist parenting sites and still didn't find much out there in terms of strategy.<br><br>
My strategy is to shield him from a lot of the mass media (no TV or movies) and to edit most of the library books that we bring home (so that some of the bugs are female etc.). I feel like he's a bit too young to handle the discussion about gender bias, but feel like this is a formative time when he's figuring out how the world work. So much patriarchal bias is hidden everywhere; it really freaks me out some days.<br><br>
Mallory - hope that dance class is going well. A friend's 5 year old just mentioned a couple of months ago after hanging out with his older cousin that he noticed that other boys don't wear pink (like he did). Funnily, he decided it was ok b/c he was wearing hot pink not light pink.<br><br>
Devrock - As for the hair issue, I'm curious as to how this will proceed as dp's hair (dp is male) is much longer than mine ever is. Finn doesn't have much hair and at first I couldn't imagine cutting it ever, but I think I'll just wait until he wants to cut it. Of all the gender identifiers--color, clothes, and hair--I think we've made the most progress on hair, but I still didn't see any long-haired boys at the playground today...<br><br>
Selissa - you're totally right about teaching all kids to nurture. boys without access to dolls really seems sad to me.<br><br>
Angie
 

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Oh, my MIL infuriates me by always saying about my 14 mo. ds, "He acts just like a boy." I always respond, "No, he acts just like a baby."<br><br>
And my dear, sweet boy LOVES one of his sister's dolls. I'm glad to see that he feels so loved that he can pass that love on to a doll.<br><br>
My dd LOVES science, so I took her to a community-based "Mad Science" class recently, and talk about gender division! She was one of only three girls in a roomful of boys!! (But I did give her a "too feminine" name that I now regret.)<br><br>
And I think it is complete gender-bias that, in the U.S., the genitals of girls are legally protected, but not the genitals of boys. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad"><br><br>
Here's a great book to read: (mostly about girls but has some about boys)<br><br><a href="http://www.powells.com/cgi-bin/biblio?inkey=1-068480073x-5" target="_blank">http://www.powells.com/cgi-bin/bibli...1-068480073x-5</a>
 

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How do you gender bender folks respond to people guessing your babe's gender and assuming incorrectly? Do you make it a point to correct them? Do you let it slide b/c you think it just doesn't matter? I find myself responding depending upon my mood, which I'm not sure I like, frankly.<br><br>
And what about Angelina Jolie? I must admit I've got quite a crush on her. I have a distinct aversion to men with guns, but somehow watching her reload with those thigh holsters really floats my boat. I'm afraid of what this might mean. Any opinions about this?
 

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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;"><i>Originally posted by ohmtaretu</i><br><b>How do you gender bender folks respond to people guessing your babe's gender and assuming incorrectly?</b></td>
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I don't care. Sometimes I correct them, sometimes I don't. It's not a big deal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;"><i>Originally posted by ohmtaretu</i><br><b>How do you gender bender folks respond to people guessing your babe's gender and assuming incorrectly? Do you make it a point to correct them?</b></td>
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If they ask outright, then I would tell them "boy," but if they guess, then I normally just refer to my child by name, in this case Finn, which is used by both boys and girls. E.g., "Oh, you like Finn's jacket? Thanks" or "we have so much fun, Finn and I".<br><br>
If they do figure out that they got it wrong and start apologizing, then I just like to say, "listen, how could such a thing bother me. He's just a kid/baby" Someday I would like to say "actually I think it's a compliment that you couldn't tell whether my child is a boy or girl. it makes me feel like I'm not bowing to the gender norms in dress and other appearance things. thank you" Bet they would fall over if I said that, huh?<br><br>
Angie
 

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That's a good idea. I think I'd simply say, "I'm glad you couldn't tell. I try very hard not to make her look a certain way based on her sex."
 

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I have a question re: support...<br><br>
For those of you with boys, are your close relations supportive of your shopping "both sides?" I think this would outrage my parents and bring on tons of criticism regarding gender confusion and psychological damage. Just wondering how you deal.<br><br>
Sometimes I think little boys really have it rough. It tends to be more acceptable for girls to cross The Line than boys. Arrgh.<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad">
 

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I don't like dresses or pink frilly things or tights, etc., for either boys or girls. I just don't like "girl clothes." My inclination is to dress boys and girls in "boy clothes." People gave me a couple of dresses anyway, in spite of my warning that anything they gave my daughter would get passed on for future son(s) to wear, and I did let her wear them, so I will let my son(s) wear them to, if I end up having a boy or boys, and if he/they want to wear them. Hey, my relatives/friends were warned!<br><br>
(Of course, that won't stop relatives/friends from giving me a hard time any way.) I'll just tell them that the way they feel about seeing a boy in a dress is the way I feel about seeing a girl in a dress, so we'll all just have to hold our stomaches, I guess.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
For us, it doesn't even have to go "as far" as dresses and frills, but even in terms of access to color (rather than the drab navy and olive green that characterize boy's clothes) and decorations of flowers rather than balls.<br><br>
I definitely am one for super functional clothes but still have to search for balance from both sides of the aisle. Of course, the "girly" things are what I get for him b/c I know that presents from family and friends will balance that out, tenfold. Lately, I've been asking him to pick what he wants, though this is getting harder b/c I can't stand the thought of Finn advertising Disney or other corporate stuff. It can get pretty limited...<br><br>
Angie
 

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I have absolutely no problem dressing boys or girls in bright colors. I have no idea how anyone could possibly object to a boy wearing bright colors!
 
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