Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Gender Cliches Debunked: Gender Bias Blog Carnival

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This post was written as a contribution to the Boys vs. Girls Blog Carnival.  The participating bloggers are sharing their experiences, ideas, and opinions on why gender roles should be avoided in parenting and teaching practices.

i catch flak from a lot of people because Bear {4 yrs} has long hair.  and because i let him wear what he chooses and accessorize as he sees fit.  and because we play with dolls, shopping carts and a dollhouse.  and because.... you get the picture.
i used to get angry and defensive.  but now, i just chuckle inside my head.  in the past, i've allowed criticism from others to actually make me question my parenting choices.  the choices that i make based on gut and heart.  one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to conversations about boys and girls is the antiquated cliches that get thrown out.  here are some examples...
the knight in shining armor.
we read books that show empowered girls as the lead characters, not weaklings whose skills and strength are minimal or under-appreciated.  i want my son to be "his brother's keeper" and help those who are in trouble, regardless of their gender or age.  having an over-romanticized and hollywood-esque view of relationships will only breed heartache and turbulence in his future relationships.
throw like a girl.
i want him to throw like a girl.  maybe that means he'll have an arm like Alabama's Jackie Traina.  maybe that means he'll have a weak lob like me.   all that matters though, is that if he chooses to play sports, he has fun and does his best.
pink is for girls.
when was pink designated for solely girls anyway? {see the answer here} Bear doesn't have any pink clothes for the simple fact that he hasn't asked for any. but he does have a ballerina costume and carries a purse to the store when he feels so inclined.

gentlemen open doors for women.
i don't want him to open doors for women.  just because someone has the same bits as him, should that mean that he be any less considerate or generous with his actions?  by using phrases like "ladies first" or teaching him to "be a gentleman", all i'm doing is teaching him that he has the power to gift his benevolence on others as he sees fit.  instead, shouldn't i teach him to show kindness to others at all times?
boys will be boys.
seriously... what the crap does this mean?

trucks are for boys and dolls are for girls.
we have a variety of toys in our house. from the get go, i've provided my son with toys that are stereotypically made for just boys or just girls. why should his gender limit what he uses to explore dramatic play or use his imagination?

boys are rough and tumble.
sure i want my son to be able to run wild and release energy.  and it's good to take a tumble every now and then.  how else do we learn to get up, dust ourselves off, and go on?  but he also needs the ability to know when to be gentle and nurturing; to show compassion through his actions.  brute force and aggression shouldn't be accepted just because of his gender.

only girls have long hair.
really?  tell that to Johnny Depp, Bret Michaels, a host of other men. this topic is a source of contention between me and many people.  but it's Bear's choice and i honor it.  i shared my views on this at the Boys Have Long Hair, Too blog carnival

don't be a girl about it.
as in, don't be emotionally sensitive to situations?  wrong.  i want Bear to respond honestly and deeply to happenings in his life.  i want him to be connected to the people and experiences around him.  if he's disturbed, let him cry.  if he's offended, let him speak his mind.  emotionally stifling children just because their emotions don't fit within the perameters that society dictates only teaches them to detach and suppress their true feelings.
so, yeah... those are my thoughts.  they aren't for everyone. 
what's your take on the boys vs. girls debate? 

Look here to read submissions by the other carnival bloggers

Gender Cliches Debunked
Andie Jaye of Crayon Freckles is a momma to a preschool boy and teen girl, looks at cliches held about genders and offers an alternate view to them. 

Parenting and Gender Biases
Maggy, mum of a boy (5) and girl (3) discusses on Life At The Zoo her observations about how each of her children do have many characteristics associated with their gender. However stresses that children should be given equal opportunities to explore, play and discover and is frequently surprised by each child really enjoys non gender specific activities – this is particularly noticeable during the arts and crafts activities they do over on Red Ted Art.

The Monko at Taming the Goblin asks "What is the difference between girls and boys at the age of three? And why do we care?"

Boys, Barbies, and Broken Necks
Erin from Royal Baloo writes on why ignoring gender stereotypes will give your child a leg up.
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