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Monday, October 28, 2013

Reflections on "It's a Boy!"

It starts with the ultrasound--before they are even out of the womb--gender identity.  The sex of the child is male or female, but that's not what they tell you.  They say "It's a boy!" or "It's a girl!"
Immediately, visions of a blue nursery, toy cars and soccer balls or pink frilly dresses, dolls and princess tea parties come to mind. Sure, some things are innately male or female, but should we force our children into a gender-defined box?  Specifically, our boys?  What message does it send?

More and more it has become acceptable for girls to like "boy things."  Girls can play with cars and watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  And more girls are out on the soccer field or doing karate.  Because in the fight against sexism, we are starting to acknowledge that girls can do what boys can do.  yay! Girl Power! Girl. Power..... Power.  We honor power...toughness...strength....thick-skin...
The problem is, this isn't a 2-way street.  While girls can be like boys-- powerful, strong, tough, thick-skinned....boys can't be "like girls"  --sensitive, nurturing, submissive (in a good way).

My son loves balls, trucks, trains, cars, airplanes, everything a boy "should" love, but he also gets just as excited about dolls.  But we have received no dolls as a gift or a hand-me-down. And I have to defend his choice when he is playing with one, because, yes, there are comments.  But why is it so offensive to see a little boy play with a doll?            Because he's being
                                                                               Lowered to the level of a female. 

We are accepting of ^^^raising girls up^^^to the level of boys--but not of "lowering" the boys.  We don't easily accept the feminine attributes of boys-- the caring and nurturing side.  The sensitive side (suck it up, be a man)---boys don't cry---boys don't give hugs (they shake hands and high five).

Similarly, we don't bat an eye when a girl likes Cookie Monster, Grover, or Bert & Ernie, but if a boy were to like Zoe or Abby Cadabby his gender identity or even sexual orientation would come into question (which  also perpetuates heterosexism) Yes, we wonder if 1 and 2-year-old boys are gay because they like a female television character.  What other reason could a 1-year-old boy  have for loving a brightly-colored, magical muppet?

I'm not saying we need to raise gender-neutral children or over-correct and not let our sons play with cars. I'm gently inviting us to look at the reasons we might object to freeing our children from gender-based stereotypes.   Girl. Boy.     Girl?  Boy? 


Thanks for reading.  Blessings!

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