on gender

Man, my wife, my brain, and I have this conversation all the time. And I bought Hunter a boy bike way back when she WAS three. And she loved it, and loves it still, since now it’s a grown up bike with only two wheels and no training wheels. And I would hate to think that she’d feel bad about herself because she has a boy bike and thus “girls suck.” But I hate the gendrification of everything. I hate it, I hate it. Hunter’s name itself is an attempt at taking back the gender. Allowing her to be strong, and a girl. We tried to keep her in greens and yellows and gender neutral colors. But all we got ere pinks and flowers and baby stuff. And how do you get rid of freely given stuff? ANd she seemed to have a prediliction for pink. Like the little social engineers got in and taught her that pink was a girly color, even before she even really understood that girls were a different social creature than boys. And that’s why I really hate the Bitchy Girls and the Bitchy Boys clubs, in reality. They’re stupid, and exclusionary, and assume that the only thing about boys and girls is their differences. I call CRAP on that. Grr.

mimi smartypants:

“Nora, lover of all things with wheels, desperately wants a two-wheel bike. I must be out of the loop on kid bikes because I was shocked at the hideousness, the glitter and bling, of the ‘girl’ bikes. I am not entirely thrilled with the endless licensed characters and flames and balls-out-rrrrraaarrr-ness of the ‘boy’ bikes either, but at least it is an active-lifestyle sort of stupid rather than a ‘princess’ sort of stupid. I guess. But I don’t really want to buy Nora a boy’s bike. I want to buy her a girl’s bike that is not retarded.

Wait a minute. Why don’t I want to buy Nora a boy’s bike?

1. See above. Just because you change the symbols does not mean the whole aesthetic isn’t flawed.

2. Because buying her a boy’s bike is admitting that girl stuff sucks and that boy stuff is better. From there I think it is a very short walk to ‘the girl world sucks, the boy world is better’ and before you know it you have arrived at ‘girls suck, boys are better.’ Cue the self-loathing, the feeling small and unimportant, the view of yourself as Other, lesser than, not the norm. No thanks.

3. This one is tricky, because it feeds into a dynamic that I want no part of but I would be irresponsible not to acknowledge. Here it is: right now neither I nor Nora nor most of our social world gives a shit about what girls do vs. what boys do. Nora is three years old. It would not matter very much if she had a boy bike or wore the Thomas the Tank Engine tighty-whitey underpants that she used to covet.

But someday, probably sooner than I think, it will matter, at least to some people. Some pushy little diva in her peer group will point out that she has a boy’s bike or boy’s shoes or whatever, and it totally sucks for school-aged kids to be censured for difference. I can rock it all ways until Sunday, stridently and repeatedly pointing out that there is no such thing as gender differences when it comes to something utilitarian like bikes or shoes, and it won’t make a whit of difference to how my daughter feels.”

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One Comment

  1. Posted August 6, 2006 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    My thoughts:
    I think that the pushy little Deva you were talking about IS our society, and I think that it does it dirty work REALLY early. I think that Hunter (who, by the way, is ALLREADY a powerful woman 🙂 has already been exposed to and effected by gender roles, and I am always shocked that even the toddlers I have worked with already know which toys they “should” be playing with.
    On the other hand, it could have been something as simple as her liking the “bling” of the girl’s bike. *I* would have. Many times, boys bikes don’t have ANY glitter. How sad for them.
    I, myself LOVE pink and glitter things, but you know what I do for a living, and I’m not exactly a fashion model. I can have feminine parts of me, and still be strong in the face of adversity. I can take out my pink sparkly boots and kick some ass!
    Also, sometimes, doing girl things is a way to celebrate your girlyness. Like getting a pedicure. I guess that when it turns from a way to pamper yourself, to an anxiety, or a burden s when it becomes unhealthy.
    As for the boys or girl suck club, I respectfully disagree. Don’t men and woman, when they have to let of steam, mostly have to do it about their partner or a person they are dating? I just think of it as a way to vent (unless you’re a lesbian,. and then your partner COULD read the stuff). There are other avenues to vent about work, or computers, etc., but there aren’t many where a person can vent about relationships in a safe environment, and get feedback, and feel better in a semi-anonymous setting. Unless a person is JUST venting to other women, and NOT talking to their partner afterwords, which is the most important part of the circle, then I think it’s a bad thing.
    -Mishy

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