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Thread: Avoiding gender and sexuality 'norms'

  1. #19

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    After having 2 girls I had a boy and it has constantly made me laugh how "boyishly" he plays with their things. When he was about 11 months he grabbed DD2 dolls parm and immerdiately turned it over to see how the wheels worked. He is just one of those boys that likes taking things apart and building things or playing with things with wheels. When he was smaller the main toys he had access to were his sisters and he still played with them in a completely different way to her. Now he is drawn towards cars and trucks and Thomas stuff. We have never pushed him into gender specific toys its just what he has chosen.
    I really think a lot of it is ingrained in their personality regardless of how we treat them.


  2. #20

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    Aw Ren- don't worry. Those sorts of comments are more 'fluff talk" than serious. You know like " so when are you having another one?" whilst you are still in the maternity ward.

    Have a look around yourself. Look at all the types of roles your son will be exposed to while he is so young. He will see mummies that work, mummies that stay at home, daddies that change nappies, partners with differing skin colours, women in politics and heads of corporations, and men that hold hands like his mum and dad.
    If and when he sees this stuff it becomes the norm, not unusual. Imagine if right now was the 1950's???? Strict gender roles and sexuality rules, no choice at all.

    I heartily agree with recognizing and celebrating the differences with gender - kids have more interesting things to do than care about the colour tshirt they are wearing!

  3. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by sunshine_sieben View Post
    And DD regularly pashes another girl. I just think it's cute and if anyone would dare to make a comment that implied that anything sexual was going on there, I would bite their head off!

    Sa?a
    on that point...
    growing up we use to play boyfriend/girlfriend games, there was no male playing the boy, it was a girl, so as a young kid i frequently pashed girls, it had no baring on my sexuality, it was just a game and i persoanaly think there was nothing wrong with it

  4. #22

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    The one that annoys me is the fact that its just assumed that all boys like cars/trucks/planes and camo (meh, I hate camo). Can we get some variety in boys clothing please? On the up side, boys do seem to get a variety of colours unlike the wall-to-wall pink for girls.

  5. #23

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    So true, it's hard to avoid pink for girls. But I guess it's always an option to go into the boys aisle and buy some boys' clothes for a girl. A bit weird doing it the other way around, though... But each to their own

  6. #24

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    Actually, I really hate the fact that boys are "cheeky" or "naughty" on all their clothes! I refuse to buy those or put DS in them when they are bought for him. I don't mind cars so much. Most of DS's clothes are plain or stripy, there are some with logos but usually just something like a teddy in a hot air balloon or words like "Little Man" or (my favourite) "My Mummy Is Yummy".

    There are some really pretty green dresses for girls this spring, btw, OK so a bit floral but springlike in green and white. Just as I won't buy "naughty" for DS (he isn't, he's a very good young man) I won't buy "princess" or likewise for a girl. Fair enough, Mama may be a Lady but she isn't a princess! "Just" a very beautiful, special and loved young girl.

  7. #25
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    DD is alternating just now between her 2 fave t-shirts. One is deep blue, and has a monkey hanging from a "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign on it (from a charity shop). The other is black and says "Detroit Rock City" on it in silver (from her American Godmother). She has lots of pink hand-me-downs from other little girls, and a bunch of blue hand-me-downs from little boys. I tend to put whatever she wants on her, though i often don't put skirts or dresses on because i don't like that in the meitai or the buggy there's always something between her legs (my back/the crotch strap part of the harness) which pushes the skirt up and leaves her legs bare/in just tights.

    I generally just let her do whatever she wants. She's obviously like mummy (bit male-brained/engineery) as she loves cars and trains and so on, but she also has a babydoll she'll BF and will put all of her toys "to bed" each on their own (unused, nicked from my packet grrr) baby wipe

    I suppose DD will grow up modelling my behaviour because that's what she sees most, but there's bits of her which are very unlike me already - she can sing, i'm tone deaf - and i just let her be.

    I find girls clothes desperately boring, because 90% of what you see on the rails is utterly impractical for a child that wants to be SURE how mud feels when you lie in it....

    Bx

  8. #26

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    I, too, am of the 'not imposing gender stereotypes' onto DS. I did always say that he will be as gender neutral as possible until he makes his own preferences - which, I'm well aware, will be partly influenced by social norm (which influences what he sees being done around him). Same attitude towards icons, too - I didn't want to buy cartoon character logo stuff till he showed an inclination towards such. So, we have a LOT of Bob the Builder now! He took an interest in real life diggers and construction from our drive through Ireland in Jan (with just about every arterial being ripped up and improved!) and it grew from there. We actually probably 'fed' him trains before that and it just hasn't had the same impact (to explain, I live near Puffing Billy and a train line so we don't have to go out of our way to talk about trains!), so Thomas is not nearly as loved, but the only other thing he'll watch with interest.
    As for clothes, he still doesn't care less about it - he'll just as quickly put on his cousins pink spotted tunic top as his cargo pants (mummy has a pair just like them ) and has done just that recently!
    He's going to cop enough 'training' for the masculine role when I have less control over what he is exposed to, so while he's mainly with me or at childcare (they're great about that sort of thing, advantage of being a university attached centre!) he'll not be told what's a boy or girl thing.
    I cringe and have to stop myself from saying something when I hear someone tell a child "Boys don't do that" or "That's for girls" etc - unless Oscar's there. If that kind of thing gets said in front of Oscar, I make a light comment because I don't want him to ever believe I condone that thinking.
    He can do whatever he chooses, as long as he's chosen it (and even if that choice is influenced by social norm) and it hasn't been dictated and imposed by shame and ignorance.

  9. #27

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    Are we concerned about the lack of positive male role models for our sons? Compared to when I was a kid there just aren't as many men in the daily lives of kids these days. When i was at Primary level at school 3/6 teachers of mine were male. There are no where near the same ratio of male Primary school teachers these days. My DD was lucky to have had 2 male teachers during her primary school years but they were only for Japanese and Sport, not her class teachers. I think for our children to have a healthy balance of influences we need to have balance in gender exposure and I just don't see this happening It's way too heavily scewed to female influence. What also makes things worse is that many families are losing touch with extended families of grandfathers/uncles/male cousins etc. What do people think?

  10. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by sunshine_sieben View Post
    So true, it's hard to avoid pink for girls. But I guess it's always an option to go into the boys aisle and buy some boys' clothes for a girl. A bit weird doing it the other way around, though... But each to their own
    My boys have plenty of girls clothes. Some are hand me downs from girl cousins and others are stuff that I've bought them.
    I needed non-cotton tights for Yasin to wear under his ski gear on days that weren't cold enough for his merino thermals. I headed straight to the girls section and found a great black pair - he's wearing them today. Imran needed thermals and none of the boys ones measured up so I found a nice pink set for him. I'd prefer him to be warm than butch.


    Quote Originally Posted by leebee81 View Post
    The one that annoys me is the fact that its just assumed that all boys like cars/trucks/planes and camo (meh, I hate camo). Can we get some variety in boys clothing please? On the up side, boys do seem to get a variety of colours unlike the wall-to-wall pink for girls.
    I've never had a problem finding non-car/truck/plane stuff. Yasin loves pirate gear so we have lots of jolly-roger clothes here.
    At the moment I'm crazy for the boo foo woo and little horn stuff.


    The weird thing is that it's so culturally determined. 100 years ago pink was for boys and blue was for girls. When I was a child most of the children's clothing was very unisex.

    Bath, I consider myself lucky when it comes to male role models. My boys have access to a pretty diverse group of adult men. At the moment Yasin has a male swimming teacher and a male kick-start teacher. He had a male ski instructor too. It's a shame that men are deserting the teaching profession but when I was at uni there were some pretty switched on guys doing education so I have hope for the future.

  11. #29

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    In answer to the first post - I tend to not really care much either way. I'm not in a hurry to place gender stereotypes on my boys but I don't care much when other people do.
    I guess for me it comes down to the fact that I think we should celebrate our children's masculinity. For me the issue is with the way that masculinity is constructed.
    Steve Biddulph draws an interesting contrast in one of his books between the differant masculinities at work when some young hoons crash their car. On one hand you have the kind of masculinity that is encapsulated in young men binge drinking and endangering themselves and others (foolish, boorish, violent) on the other hand you have the kind of masculinity that is represented by the rescue services (strentgh, courage, compassion, selflessness, intelligence).
    It's the second type of masculinity I want to celebrate in my sons. If we can make our sons see how much we value and respect these masculine traits and introduce them to men who have these traits we can help them to steer a path that avoids the kind of hyper-masculinity that leads men into harm and trouble (for themselves and others).
    I guess that my sons are lucky in that they have access to diverse models of masculinity - my husband comes from a culture where men are comfortable with hugging and kissing each other, that it's not 'sissy' to pick a flower for yourself and it's ok to cry.
    Boys are differant - they get massive doses of testosterone at differant stages of their lives that alters their brain chemistry. Their left and right brains are connected differantly to girls so they process information diferantly. IMO not accepting these differances is doing our sons (and daughters) a disservice.
    To me the gender stereotypes are neither here nor there - the really important matter is helping our sons construct some kind of masculine identity that makes them into fine men not boorish thugs.

  12. #30

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    I guess DS is used to me skewing the stereotypes anyway! I'm in the fire brigade, and so is DP, so DS gets loads of both gender influences from both fellow firefighters and brigade partners, with whom we are also involved. I'm not very girly girly myself, so DS gets good doses of fire brigade, academia, horses and some sailing (my dad's got a boat). As a kid I had both 'boy' stuff and 'girl' stuff. My mum made me a beautiful frilly dress for my first birthday and there I was in shirley temple curls, patent leather shoes and a 'baby boy' blue frock. I'm not going to any great efforts with DS, just replicating my own upbringing where I do not ever remember being told 'that's not for girls'.

  13. #31

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    I had a weird upbringing - when I was little it was all football and running, then it was all pink and ponies and dolls (I LOVED CARS! But then I was told "you're a girl" despite the fact I was "supposed" to be a boy and was still being told that), then older still it was lego and chemistry kits with no gender comments... while my sister got make-up and games about shopping or babies. I was "supposed" to be a boy and have a lot of that influence still.

    As Dach said, there's good masculinity and bad masculinity. Crying or toys don't make a man (or a woman). I'm bringing my son up with good masculinity and re-enforcing it with praise. I don't mind if he plays house or cars so long as he's happy.

    And I buy DS tights too - in winter in a carrier his trousers ride up, why do I want him to have cold legs?

  14. #32
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    on the other hand you have the kind of masculinity that is represented by the rescue services (strentgh, courage, compassion, selflessness, intelligence).
    Actually that's the kind of FEMININITY i'd like to encourage too Dach. I think that good qualities are universal in most cases. I know plenty of boorish, stupid, violent women too, unfortunately i live in a poor area and it's pretty rife for everyone to raise their kids to "hit first, ask questions later" - that's both how they treat them and how they expect them to act towards others.

    I'm not too worried about DD's role models as she has lots of both sexes. I worry that the most important ones (me, XP) are not up to scratch but i think that's a pretty normal anxiety.

    I agree that boys masculinity is to be celebrated and that understanding that when your 5 year old suddenly begins beating other kids up it's hormonal and not behavioural and that in the main so long as he's with others his own age he'll come through it just fine is incredibly useful. BUt will we raise our girls the same way? When my brother was going to parties at 14 my mother gave him condoms "to be safe". When i went on the Pill at 14 i was called "a little ****" and ignored for a month.

    Bx

  15. #33

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    I guess, using the 'bad masculinity' thing and taking it further, there is also a 'bad femininity' to be avoided at the very same time. To me, 'bad masculinity' is power seeking and power assertion, and 'bad femininity' is submission. There is masculinity and femininity without these and that's what I want DS and my other future children to learn and appreciate. No daughter of mine will have reason to believe that men can do something better than she can. Even where they patently can - I will never be the one to say she should back off and let the men do it if she believes she's able.
    I am in no way going to suggest to DS that we are all actually androgynous, because that's clearly untrue. However, until he gets a bit older, these are the years when it doesn't actually matter what sex he is, so he doesn't need to play out a gender (sex and gender being two distinct concepts to me) until he's ready. I'm just going to preserve that innocence a bit longer and choose clothes that are fluid and expressive of his character, not his sex or gender. People buy him clothes that are more gender-orientated than I'd choose myself and that's ok - the ones who have the inclination to buy him clothes know what I'm like, so I've never had anything that's been really affronting to my philosophy!
    I have a boy with long hair and strangers will often ask what sex he is. He doesnt' care. I don't care. I'm not going to cut his hair so that people can know if he's a boy or a girl. And I'll be asked even when he's wearing his army shirt and jeans, so even clothes aren't enough to tip some people off. Lucky for me, though, I don't mind the confusion, it doesn't offend me and DS can carry on being himself. I also like the long hair because it means no-one DOES come up to DS and start gendering him - they're just not sure what to say and I much prefer that time bought by hesitation from uncertainty!
    I hate it when my mum sees DS do something and says "No, don't be a sissy" or "that's for sissies" etc. I abhor it, actually, and wish I could snap those words out of the air so that he never has to hear them.
    This is how I see it applying to my family and I know others feel very differently. That's fine, too
    ETA yep, Bec, I would also like to think that strength, integrity, courage etc are qualities we can find in any human being. But I'm a raging socialist (I think...) and my mum has fostered these very things in me since infancy. She comes from a culture entrenched in Machismo, so go figure.
    How utterly disempowering to be punished for doing exactly the same thing as your brother! I'm afraid that such attitudes still exist I never use that term anymore and haven't for years because I started to question it whilst still in school (probably because I was called that, for no reason, and then wondered who it applied to...and came up with my answer of 'no-one').
    My dad travelled a lot when I was younger, so male role models were thin on the ground (also with no relatives this side of the equator!), leaving us girls to form and flex our characters unhindered by overt 'masculinity' in the common sense.
    Last edited by Smoke Jaguar; July 8th, 2008 at 06:46 PM.

  16. #34

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    Femininity expresses those good points in different ways, Bec. Men show compassion by solving things, women by empathising. Just for an example. And submission isn't a bad thing, not when it's done correctly. Being submissive doesn't mean that you think someone is better than you. It's acknowledging someone's lead in a situation. I would expect my children to be submissive to me just as I am submissive to DH. That doesn't mean he bosses me about, just that we have a leader in the household, which makes things easier.

    Don't for one minute think I do things I dislike because DH tells me to. Yes, we have disagreements but usually solve them with compromise or one coming round to the other's idea. Usually I present DH with choices I like and he picks the one he likes (such as what's for dinner or where we go on a weekend). Bad submission is doing things you don't want - it's like being bullied. And bullying is bad masculinity, just as cattiness and name-calling is bad femininity. Use your powers of gossip for good! Someone is being a bit odd/down and it's mentioned to you in passing, why not organise a meal and take it round to find out what the problem is? That's something men don't usually think to do but women excell at.

    OK, so I didn't want to come back to work. But now I'm back I find I'm a lot more patient with DS and play with him more. I value our time more. Some mothers don't need time apart for that. But DS is happy, I get a sit-down (which is great when I'm ill, like now) and we're all better for it.

  17. #35

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    I'm going to be really candid. Maybe I need a new perspective but my DH drives me nuts because he is a real "scare bear". To be honest I am often made to "wear the pants" in this family because my DH is fearful of so many things: wildlife (he panicked once when a pelican came too close)... i usually have to deal with a spider in the house... situations like seeing a car accident turn his legs to jelly putting me in the position of needing to tell him to pull it together and dial 000... before i dash toward the accident and help the people inside. Most of the time I feel as if it's me protecting him. This placed a lot of stress on me when i was pregnant. I see my oldest son following in my DH's footsteps. Should this bother me? No one would think these attributes noteworthy if my DH was female. From reading other threads 90% of women demand their husbands dispose of the spider that wanders into their homes. Why is timidity ok with women more than men?
    Last edited by Bathsheba; July 8th, 2008 at 06:51 PM.

  18. #36

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    Like I said, Ryn, I have no problem with how other people conceptualise and adopt ideas of masculinity and femininity, I just don't have to agree with them
    The way I view the word 'submission' just doesn't come up with any good manifestations of it. I don't want my kids submissive to me, I want them to have agency and I have resolved that I'm not going to 'train' my DS to be submissive in later life by insisting on it now. And this solely applies to me, I'm just explaining myself a bit further on this point and how I see it. I've got DS under my influence for such a short period of time, so this is where I teach him how to conduct himself with people beyond our family - with confidence in himself and his abilities, trusting his instinct and acting on it. Except for crossing the road on a whim! That's different, he responds perfectly well to a booming 'STOP!'. Sure, this is how lots of people raise their sons, but not their daughters - I'll be doing the same thing, dangly bits or none You may well have another working definition of 'submission' than I do, and the one I have in my head is odious to me. Just to me, though, let me reiterate.
    So, whilst I chuckle at people's confusion over DS, I'll be vocal and protective of a daughter more so, because DS will never have the same issues of being told what he needs to look like, what he needs to wear, what he should do with his life. He's already catered for in this society. Girls still are likely to have to put up a fight to do what they want, unfortunately.
    ETA: Bath - bloody good question! When I was younger and my dad was at sea, a girl disposed of those things or no-one did! In my household now, we both wear 'pants' and somehow, it works - my from my family of three females to one male and DP from a family of three males to one female.
    Last edited by Smoke Jaguar; July 8th, 2008 at 07:10 PM.

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