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Thread: Avoiding gender and sexuality 'norms'

  1. #37

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    I don't think it's OK for timidity, as you call it, in either gender.

    Both DH and I can sort out spiders - the main challenge is stopping DS trying to play with them! I prefer DH to do it but as he has laughed at me in the past I just do it now.

    You have just said that your DH's "femininity" (and I would say it's not good femininity) upsets and stresses you. Surely that means you don't want your son to grow up like this and upset your future DiL? Women are MADE to be protected (don't want to turn this into a religious debate but the Bible says we are), men are MADE to protect us. The world has perverted this, yes, but that doesn't mean that men should be fearful followers and women brave leaders - tbh, women shouldn't be fearful followers either, but men should be leading.

    Car accidents are different to spiders though - I know my DH can't cope with anything "medical" whereas I can. That's because he doesn't see it every day, doesn't know what to do. I would have more of a clue but still not enough of one to help beyond comforting and calling an ambulance/the police. But everyday things, the man should be strong and lead.

    eta: Mayaness, I expect anyone living in my house to obey my rules. Just as when I live with someone else I obey their rules. Learning how to take instruction is important to a boy and a girl, as it helps when older because they can understand how to give instructions.

    OK, so with DS he knows what is and is not allowed (such as don't play near the oven when Mama's cooking, we hold hands to cross the road, we don't re-wire the TV in the middle of Dr Who...) and tests those limits. That's healthy. But he has to live by the rules. Without rules now how will he make them? I don't expect cowering submission but a respectful one.

    Last edited by Ca Plane Pour Moi; July 8th, 2008 at 07:04 PM.

  2. #38

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    Well, that may illustrate our fundamental difference of opinion on this one, Ryn - I cannot believe that women were made to be protected by men in the way you do. The biblical rendition of sex differences just doesn't fly with me. The evolutionary one does, and I was raised to heartily reject anything sniffing of evolutionary ideology! I absolutely can never believe that men do the leading. I think I have a fundamentally different approach to parenting, too, and that's ok Suffice to say the difference of opinion doesn't look like it will be resolved here. And also suffice to say that my thinking on these things informs how I deal with gender and sexuality stereotypes.
    Someone else here noted that they have a homosexual relative. We have a similar situation and an older nephew of mine is just so damn evolved about politics of discrimination...and he's only 12! I can only hope my DS follows suit.

  3. #39

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    thats so true.
    I dont know if I ever will have a daughter, but I have considered for half of my life what would be important in how I raise her (should I ever get one) in regards to her gender and society. Things have come a very long way since my grandma was my age and a very long way even since my mum was my age too, but there is still alot to change. It seems in recent years that female are going backwards almost in the way they are being conditioned to think and behave. Its very sad that as society we place so much emphasis on shallow and materialist worthiness. I hate that there is so much prevalance of promescuity and emphasis on appearance rather than personality generated by media. Its another thing I am concerned about for my DS, as I do not want him growing up believing that crap about females or about himself.

  4. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by hoobley View Post
    Actually that's the kind of FEMININITY i'd like to encourage too Dach. I think that good qualities are universal in most cases.

    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
    I totally agree with you there - the thing is because I don't have any daughters I tend to marginalise the issues that people raising girls deal with .

    The whole thing with double standards totally bugs me - it's rife in some of the communities in my area. I would hope that my sons will have the same standards for themselves as for women but the thing is at some point our children

    Mayaness, ITA agree that there's no need to put gendered clothes on children. My criteria is pretty much is it warm/cool and comfy. Beyond that I don't much care. Imran has long hair and I'm forever getting told what a pretty little thing he is lol. He looks pretty butch to me. I'm not particuarly submissive so I can't really imagine myself imparting that quality to my children.

    Re the spiders thing - TBH women who fall into a wimpering heap in the face of an arachnid or small rodent annoy me so if my DH did it I'd be pretty annoyed too (The rule in our house is you can look but you'd better not touch a la The Wiggles - we have a spider conservation zone).

  5. #41

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    That's fine, Mayaness - I really respect your parenting. It's different to mine in some ways, but different isn't bad.

    I think we have many similarities, only differing reasons behind them. I hope we have similarities, I think you sound like you have a good approach and one that I'd like to have! Evolutionary differences don't make sense to me, but hormonal ones do, and tbh it amounts to the same thing. I don't believe you can raise a boy to be a girl or a girl to be a boy, but you can raise them without fear or prejudice and let them be who they are. Yes, I'm making DS aware that, as a man, I expect him to look out for and look after women (and no doubt his wife will apreciate it, she wouldn't marry him if she didn't), but that doesn't belittle women, as we find it rather difficult to ask for help as a rule. Other than that he can do as he wishes. If he wants to be a house-husband that's fine. If he wants to be a train-driver, that's fine. If he wants to take over the world as an evil genius, that's only fine if I get an evil island paradise too LOL.

    eta: Salsa, I agree, there's too much emphasis placed on the superficial and not the real. Although I am guilty of telling every baby, toddler and young child how gorgeous they are! Physical looks don't bring happiness anyway, you're always worried that it will fail. At least learning and a personality you can build on! OK, so your body you can too, but who wants a plastic body?

  6. #42

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    Rosehip - I heard an interview on BBC1 radio years ago (steve wright in the afternoon). Vanessa Williams was the guest. (She was a pop singer back then, now shes an actress on Ugly Betty - just incase no one knows who she is ).
    The presenters in the studio all seemed awed by her very attractive features and asked he something along the lines of her being told as she grew up how beautiful looking she was. And she said that she never was. She said her parents never praised her on her looks, only on her practical and academic achievements.
    As a teenager that really struck me. Especially probably because I knew that I was told alot growing up by my family that I was very pretty, but never really felt much emphasis was put into encouraging my personality or brains.
    It was about 17 yrs ago that I heard the interview but this bits stuck in my memory all this time!
    I remember it when I`m sometimes looking at my son and thinking 'what a good looking fella'. It reminds me not to mention that out loud as much as I think it - as he already hears from strangers all the time how 'pretty' (its the longhair lol) he is.

  7. #43

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    Hmmm. I don't think never praising is the answer either - when we get ready to go out, it's nice to know the effort is worth it. I was never praised on my looks - but then, I was told how dreadful I looked, I'd rather they be ignored really. But I do agree with praising intellect or *real* achievements rather than just what you're born with.

    There's nothing wrong with being attractive (or being ugly) so we can't completely ignore how we look, but we need to all be told there should be more to us than our looks. One reason I love t'internet is because we deal with each other as people, rather than how we look.

  8. #44
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    To me the only true "inity" (femin or mascul) is there in the absence of the opposite sex. So much of modern "inity" is about how we respond to the OTHER sex. Men protect women? When there are no men around WOMEN protect women/themselves. Women nurture? When there are no women around men manage to feed and clothe themselves and will even *gasp* hug one another. XP manages to nurture DD during her time with him just great.

    FOr DP and i (who do not yet live together full-time so you may all chug salt while you read this one ) so far we seem to do it on a best-qualified basis. If i'm struggling with the home wifi network DP deals with it - he's a software engineer. If DD is starving i deal with it - i know how to cook WAY better and more nutritious food than him (equally he has me learning java and i have him learning new recipes all the time). I have more practical skills, because of my life experiences, than him. So i do more of the practical things, but he earns enough that i won't have to work out of the home when we buy our house because he's so damn good at his job. Also he has a car and is the master of "making things easy" - he just sorts out whatever needs doing in such a way that you mention it once and then it's done. While i'm bathing DD he tidies the rest of her stuff away and does the dishes so we can just be together when she's in bed. I feel like a team-mate on a relatively well-run team.

    If he is feeling low i am dominant and caring, if i am feeling low HE is dominant and caring. We try to meet the team needs together. We even talk about ourselves as a team! LOL.

    The only place i'm submissive rather than equal is in the bedroom. That is at MY request and works great for us (probably because i'm equal/dominant everywhere else). To me that's such an individual dynamic, it's not really about gender roles at all.

    Bx

  9. #45

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    I agree, its fine to compliment someone on their appearance.
    As I said though, an interesting comment from her in regards to her upbringing. Food for thought for myself I guess...

  10. #46

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    I just wanted to say that my head hurts (because my eldest son has been embracing the traditionally feminine art of sqealing and screaming), so I won't attempt anything intelligent, but I'm really enjoying this conversation.

  11. #47

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    Bec, I'm capable of looking after myself. I can set up a wifi network. I can cook, clean, do all the girly and boy-y things. DH can look after himself too. I just CHOOSE not to - I don't like being dominant. I can be, but I don't have to be and I like that. Sometimes I do have to take charge of DH but that's when he and DS are trying to out-toddler each other.

    Some people would say the way I manage DH means that I am in charge, but I tend to see it as a power behind the throne - DH is in charge, I just make everything run smoothly and we both don't do things we really don't want to. There's the odd compromise, but very few and far between.

  12. #48

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    Hoobley... yep, I have to concede that my DH does have his strengths (despite being fragile when it comes to wildlife, blood, anti-social behaviour etc) ...he is very capable as a bread winner. He is a kick-arse banker and negotiator. Aspects of life that I am inept. He has nerves of steel behind the wheel of a car (he doesn't lose his nerve if the car goes into a tail-spin) whereas I don't drive largely through nervousness. So yes, we are each other's support and I relate to your team reference. However... it does kind of plague me that if society ever crumbled (anyone who knows me well knows that i spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about this scenario) I worry that he would be next to useless. He can't handle the cold... he can't handle being sick... he can't handle not having creature comforts... he is useless if he has to function without his morning shower... he is just so damn delicate when it comes to the gritty side of life. I need to know that he will be strong enough to cope with adversity. I need to know that i'll have my hunter and warrior who is able to defend and protect us as a family. If something goes bump in the night it's bloody me that gets the torch to suss it out. He freaked out once because he heard a possum hiss! Arrrrggghhhh!!! A palm tree dropped a load of dead fronds onto our roof one night making a hell of a noise and he was too scared to go out and see what had fallen. This results in a significant lack of respect in him. Am I a product of warped gender expectations??? it is unfair of me to want a man to be stronger? Am I being selfish?

    Regarding submission: I see the value in teaching my children that sometimes they have to trust me to issue instructions that don't make sense to them. To do this they do have to "accept" and put aside their own will. I guess this is submission. it's my hope that they will know me as being "firm but fair". I get what you are saying Ryn in that I also hope they will grow up to be "firm but fair" adults. Everyday i set boundaries that i expect them to acknowledge. Now when my boundaries are breached it is my role to role model patience BUT to reaffirm them in no uncertain terms. I think there are many people that struggle with setting boundaries. I'm no expert but i assume this is something that you learn from role models. My kids need to see me being firm... and to see me act with fair and just authority. It's my job to show them that just because I have authority doesn't mean that i can go around and abuse it like a Mummy Dearest Hitler. My 13yo DD spent 3 years watching me at work in her school as a teacher's assistant. It was an environment where i had to exert my authority on a fairly regular basis... if you don't the class runs amok. She saw me consistently adhere to "firm but fair" and she saw that my strategies worked. These days she's a leader amongst her peers. Her teachers are unanimous about that! She also has a lot of compassion and i'm pretty damn proud of this set of traits she has developed. She's a popular girl despite that fact that she also drives me nuts at times! Aaaanyhow... what i'm saying is that if submission is the product of trust then it's a good thing. if it's a product of fear then it's not so good. I set firm boundaries and I hope that this is teaching my children to set firm boundaries too. This for me transcends gender stereotypes though... well adjusted men and women should be able to, when appropriate, put aside their will as part of trust. A soldier must submit to his platoon leader... a nurse must submit to the doctor. Hopefully though an individual has the life skills to identify who is worthy of trust before submitting themselves to their leaders. Way OT... sorry!

    ETA: just an extra thought: regarding boundaries: i think it is MY job to also respect my children's boundaries. I get what Maya is saying too in that many adults are dismissive of the boundaries of children. I know my parents were. A good example is that i would never force my child to kiss the cheek of a visiting adult to be 'polite'. If the child seems in anyway uncomfortable you have to respect that. If you don't then this often results in that bad kind of submission we all would dread; that which would make our child vulnerable to predators
    Last edited by Bathsheba; July 8th, 2008 at 09:41 PM.

  13. #49

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    Oh, how interesting this conversation is getting...
    ROFL at DH and DS out-toddlering each other.
    I have to say, I agree with many of you. I also think that girls and boys should grow up eing told that they can do whatever they want. A boy can become a florist, a girl can become a mechanic, if that's where their passions lie. Hugging and kissing and general tenderness and compassion is something I would want to instill into both boys and girls.

    My DH - as much as I love him - can be very childish, too. And to be honest, sometimes it bugs me that I always have to be the adult in our relationship. I'm the one who deals with money (and trust me, with his maths skills, I wouldn't want him to do it). I'm the one who usually wears the pants. And you know what, I wish I didn't have to. It has nothing to do with spiders. He usually deals with them as I'm not familiar with Australian spiders. But it has to do with general responsibilities.

    On the subject of women going backwards in some respect. I actually agree. We seem to manage to further and hinder ourselves at the same time. Yes, we do have more choices these days. With these choices come a lot more responsibilities, too. But at the same time, we seem to be quite efficient in reducing each other and ourselves to very superficial values. We don't seem to value our intellect and are more worried about physical appearance and status symbols (present company excluded, of course).
    I have myself given the subject of commenting on my daughter's looks a lot of thought. She is absolutely gorgeous, of course. But I don't want her to ever think that being beautiful is important. So I try to limit the comments I make about her looks. Of course, in appropriate moments, I will say: "don't you look gorgeous with that hairclip (or with green marker all over your face )!" But I am very aware of not making too big a deal of her looks. They are merely passing comments, I wouldn't even call it praise. To me praise is something you can earn. But your looks are not something you have achieved, they are pure luck. I also make sure that I do praise her for her accomplishments all the time. I make a much bigger deal out of that then out of her looks IYKWIM.

    Saša

  14. #50

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    Well-said on submission, Bath.

    I don't think any man handles being sick LOL. DH found it hilarious I made him get out of bed and see what the noise was when the peg bag fell off the table in the middle of the night, but I'd have been seething if I'd had to do it. I don't think it's unfair of you to want the hunter/warrior type - I think the main reason women are so down on men is because this is drummed out of them by people who insist girls and boys are EXACTLY the same rather than allowing differences as they grow up. Then the same people whinge that men don't protect and provide any more.

    eta: Saša, I worry about my DS. He is SO gorgeous and I have people going absolutely mad over him, more than you'd expect. He's also very popular. And that's a huge worry! I don't exactly want him to be an ugly billy-no-mates but the challenges of an attractive popular child aren't challenges I've had to face for myself so I am very uncomfortable about it, with the what ifs - the wrong crowd, the drugs, the alcohol, the knives... and he's only 17m old now!

  15. #51

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    I agree with what most have said in that there simply are differences between males and females and there is little you can do to change that - influence yes, obliterate no. I don't believe its appropriate with children to enforce a way of thinking on them - my DD#1 plays with unisex toys and at my DH's parents' house there are only boy toys courtesy of 7 male cousins. She loves them all. I do get very annoyed when people automatically assume she is a boy if she's not dressed in pink from head to toe and I was once lectured by a woman in a store one day when she was wearing blue. Rude cow.

    I think all children should believe they are beautiful - society does a lot of damage to young minds by only pointing out a limited few as beautiful, especially when those few are the incredibly skinny ones. A friend of mine's 14 year old daughter was recently institutionalised with suicidal thoughts and annorexia. That's tragic and even worse is that these doctors regularly treated children as young as 6!!!

    Finally, a friend of mine is a forensic anthropologist (read CSI). She says that when she is speaking to the parents of deceased children, the father almost never wants to know anything beyond the fact that its his child who is dead. The mothers apparently want to know all the dreadful details of what happened to their baby - their reasoning being it couldn't possibly be worse than what they imagine. I think this just goes to demonstrate that men and women have different strengths. Neither is better than the other, they're just different.

    Sorry - bit waffly but I've found this thread really interesting but DD#2 has just woken so will post now before its too late . . .

  16. #52

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    Ryn, I agree - different is not bad
    Bath - I, too, like how you've nutted out 'submission'. In my mind, most ways I think about submission is along the lines of, but not synonymous with 'subservient'. The latter is far more odious to me, and submission still has negative connotations for the most part until you talk about submission with trust. That's also encapsulated by the times I have to yell out 'no' or 'stop' when DS is about to do something more risky than usual! I was also quite a defiant child and I wouldn't change that. My mum wouldn't either, even though it was her absolute bane many a time. I WILL raise my kids to 'question, question, question'. Except if they become firefighters, then they can question everything except most orders on the fireground
    Anyway, I also agree with the trend to assign labels based on superficial beauty on girl children. Pretty, beautiful, ugly etc. DS will know that he is more than a beautiful boy and that he must act with integrity before he relies on his looks for influence when he's older. Any girls I have will not hear from me things like "She's ugly", "she's pretty" etc. My mum was very free with her opinions on womens' looks, to the point where one day I said I thought a newsreader was pretty and she shot me down to say she was, in fact, ugly. For a long time after that, I assumed there was some criteria I was not privy to that meant some people were pretty and some were ugly and my mum knew which was which. But she started to cross the line and say women were ugly when I thought different. So, I've resolved not to entertain that sort of talk anymore.
    Another way I counter gender stereotyping is that I don't define people as male or female. If he points out a man, that's ok, but I'm not going to talk about kids we know and say 'x is a girl' etc. They are people with lots to offer in their differences.
    I can only do so much, as I do live in society. I thought about this long and hard during pregnancy, especially because we didn't find out what sex he would be and it created comment in our circles.
    I'm really enjoying this thread, too, thanks chickies!!

  17. #53

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    LuluHB, I can't believe that woman. Where does she get off lecturing you about what your DD should be wearing? Even if you want to dress her in an astronauts outfit, it's your decision!

    One thing I don't want my daughter to do is play the damsel in distress. I despise it when women do that. It's fine to ask for help, don't get me wrong. Women don't do it often enough. Let me try to explain: I don't think women should be trying to be men. I'm quite happy with lawn mowing being DHs job, but there's no problem with the roles being reversed either. But, I hate it when women abuse their looks or femininity. I'll give you an example: my sister in law. She's one of those people who gets hysterical just to get male attention. She's apparently scared of everything. We have a dog, a Labrador and whenever my brother is around, she jumps on a chair or into his arms and shrieks: "Baby, baby, help me!" the moment she sees the dog. But when my brother isn't looking, she not only pats the dog, but even takes him for a walk. It bugs me big time. I can't handle women like that. So I definitely don't want my DD to turn out like that. I want her to learn that she can do pretty much everything a man can do (except write her name in the snow with wee). But, she doesn't have to IYKWIM. It's alright to ask someone to change your tyre. But you shouldn't be afraid to give it a go yourself if there's noone else around.

    Rosehip Fairy, I am not concerned about your son at all. He gets influenced by you and you seem to have your head screwed on and both feet on the ground, I don't think his beauty will go to his head. By the way, do you have German heritage? I'm just asking cause you refer to him as "Liebling" in your siggie.

    Saša

  18. #54

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    I tell my children that they're beautiful all the time but I don't really mean in it in a physical sense (although of course they are lol). A person is beautiful if their soul is beautiful, if their maners are lovely and their conduct is kind and graceful. I'm pretty sure that they understand the context that I use it in and that their ideas of beauty aren't rooted in the physical.

    I've had to start defining gender for Yasin lately because he calls everyone 'he' regardless of whether they are male or female. He told a check-out chick she was a good boy a few weeks ago lol.

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