The Feminists Entertain Me but I’m Raising These Kids With a Hefty Dose of Gender Bias

04.14.11


Recently I rediscovered Reddit. I’ve always loved reading there, but I never submitted, commented or otherwise participated in their discussion. I’ve found my happy place though with the TwoXChromosomes SubReddit (which is just a subgroup). It’s a really great little board, and I’m scared to share it with too many folks because I don’t want to be that blogger that made the feminist happy place suck.

What I love so much about the internet is that it forces me to think. I don’t find that I’m changing my mind, but rather that I’m thinking things through more critically. Critical thinking is always good. Lately I’ve been thinking about the fact that I’m a very different mother to Alexander than I am to Jane.

In the last two months Alexander has played with fire and Jane has a male admirer. Alexander played with fire alone in the house, Jane got a text from a boy. Ask me which one had me in orbit? Apparently playing with fire is a phase that little boys grow out of, the text messages may never end.

I care more about my daughter’s chastity than I do about the fact that my son is a budding pyromaniac. I can rebuild after a fire.

Further I will let my son wear nail polish, but not pink, because that would be feminine. I will let my daughter wear jeans, but not from the boy’s department. I know.

But I do think about women and our clothes, and I wonder why we have to wear high heels to dress up and men can wear proper shoes. I get irritated that we’re supposed to have misshapen feet from jamming ourselves into pointy toed things, and that we can’t run to catch up because our feet are cramped and our skirts are prohibitive.

I watch Jane play at school and I wish she’d wear the shorts from her uniform and not her skirts because then she could run and play. The boys don’t have to worry about skirts flying up.

And then I remember all the wonderful things about being a girl, and I look at the privelages of being a woman. And I remember that we’re just different, and different is good.

I just wish we were all a little nicer.

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10 responses to “The Feminists Entertain Me but I’m Raising These Kids With a Hefty Dose of Gender Bias”

  1. Annie says:

    My daughter wears shorts under her school skirts so she can run and play just like I did when I was in grade school. She paints her nails goth colors because she is off pink again though blue lasted only a short while and not it’s green – because “there are so many great shades”. I would be through the roof if she played with fire and simply remind her that texts from boys had better not be porn (though the former is unlikely as she is terrified of getting burned and the latter is years off). I have two adult step-daughters which makes me a bit less Hester Prynne about the virgin thing – everyone loses it – the important thing is to not be coerced out of it or regret having wasted it on someone.

    There are differences between boys and girls. It makes me shrug a bit when I listen to parents who think they can undo what is hardwired with toys and colors and clothes. And there are masculine girls and feminine boys too – let’s not forget them or be naive about their needs.

    I support feminism but from a reality standpoint.

  2. Ado says:

    “I care more about my daughter’s chastity than I do about the fact that my son is a budding pyromaniac.” – this killed me. It is really funny, and frankly if I had a son in addition to my daughters I would say the same thing. Fires can be put out. Innocence can’t ever be retrieved. The tricky thing about this whole hanging onto their chastity thing we moms have, and our tendency (okay, mine) to try to draw out/elongate childhood as long as – longer than – humanly possible – is that no matter what we do, it’s a’coming. At some point, it just is. As for your son – the fire may come, or he may just quit playing w. matches and that’ll be it. A different percentage entirely.

    This was a really great post, thanks. I enjoyed reading it and you are a kick-ass writer too.

  3. Amber says:

    I have had the same experience lately in that I keep stumbling on thought-provoking posts and articles, and many have been about gender-related issues in childhood and early sexualization. One point that really struck me was that until the mid-80’s kids wore gender neutral clothing for the most part. Then, companies figured out that we’d all buy more shit if the genders had completely separate wardrobes. A mom in the article I link to below had a kid in ’82 and ’86. She points out that with the first one, you could buy blue overalls. With the second one, it was blue overalls with a teddy bear holding a football. Something changed in the marketplace and in culture.

    I think it’s very important to think about and be aware of such things, because otherwise we are apt to make very wrong assumptions about “the differences between boys and girls.” Today, some of those are actually artificial, thanks to billions being spent on marketing to their very young minds. It’s not all hardwiring, people. The princess obsession is a really recent phenomenon, for example. Pink used to be the color for boys. Before that, there was no genderized clothing for children under six. They all wore the same thing: white cotton dresses (the idea being you could bleach them, and dresses can be worn longer as they’re harder to outgrow). What we consider feminine and masculine keeps changing–in regards to kids and all of us. It’s not set.

    “When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink” from the Smithsonian Magazine:
    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/When-Did-Girls-Start-Wearing-Pink.html

  4. Nina Bargiel says:

    I used to wear shorts under my skirts so I could do both!

  5. David Wade says:

    Looking back at some of the things we did right. I’ve got four kids, and the youngest is now 32 and an Assistant District Attorney down in Alamogordo, NM. Three sons and one daughter.
    1) They all took typing class.
    2) The daughter took Auto Shop and can change spark plugs and tires and such without help.
    3) The Sons took Home Ec, and can cook and do laundry and didn’t have to marry the first Surrogate Mommy that came along.
    4) They were mostly raised in the mountains, and Los Alamos, Cincinnati, & Daly City. They have long time friendships. Not like Military Brat me.
    5) When the inevitable divorce happened (remember, Military Brat, no friends that I’ve known more than two years except the wife & kids. Too much pressure.) I tried not to say anything bad about my ex-wife, and I believe she did the same about me.
    6) The first child was a set of Identical male twins. They were not dressed alike or any such thing, (though they did switch out on dates once or twice.)
    7) They were given guns when they turned 13. All four of them. Though I don’t remember going hunting with any of them.
    8) The absolutely most helpful thing they did in High School was Debate Club. The twins did that.
    9) When one of the twins bought a Suzuki GSXR-750 while they were in college, I tested it (going uphill in Albuquerque and it went from 0-100 mph in less than a city block,) and the very next day they were enrolled in Keith Code’s California Superbike School where they found out that they were never going to make a living as a motorcycle racer, and when the inevitable wreck happened, they lived, but they never got involved in Street Racing even though the motorcycle was the fastest production bike in the world. They know that they weren’t. Now that boy is 42 and Chief Surgeon at a Hospital near La Crosse, Wisconsin, THANK YOU & BLESS YOU Keith Code!

    You need to raise them with the skills necessary that they don’t need to have the other sex around until later. That goes with the chastity thing as well.

  6. I have really conflicting feelings about this. The same confusion I felt towards that one blog post “my son is gay” (or something like that).

  7. Anonymous says:

    I could never be a good feminist, I appreciate having doors held and seats pulled out. I am raising my boys to be the sort of men who do these things!

  8. Brandy says:

    I couldn’t have said this any better. I am more the male in my household with the motherly touch/tone,etc I am def treating my sons and daughter differently and she is starting to realize this. My daughter is 8 and I swear I am harder on her than the boys … the boys are 2 & 4 .. heck they will grow out of their phases and jumping off pretend planks that happen to be cardboard on the edge of a bed .. not dangerous, right? lol Honestly I think we all treat our children a little differently whether they are boys or girls. I think that we are all entitled to our opinions and should embrace each other, love each other and understand that not all of us live the same life. I enjoyed reading this, actually!

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