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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