Before I was a parent, I didn’t think too much about
gender sex equality. I never felt that I was less for being a woman, did not and still do not particularly care if how I look offends someones’ delicate sensitivities, and am acknowledged to be physically strong in spite of my small stature and lack of bodybuilding-related activities. I’m also incredibly stubborn, which gives me great strength to get on doing things my way.
Since falling pregnant and becoming a parent, however, I had to make myself tune back in to what messages are being broadcast//shoved down throats young and old. And while I have every faith that my daughter (who is almost 2) will end up as stubborn and inquisitive as her old ma, as both traits are already manifest in spades. That doesn’t stop me from feeling protective – I refuse to be resigned to the supposed necessity of a princess phase. I refuse to let her be told that she must be pretty and passive, an object on a shelf; I’ve felt that before and jaysus did it make me want to jump and shatter. It’s not about denying her girly things or boy things – it’s about trying to weed out the incessant message of conformity that is soul-crushingly detrimental to both the individual and society. And while I have friends who live here who would argue that I certainly have no idea of what I speak, or that the messages of such are 15 years out of date – why do I see them and know them after having only been here four and a half years? Why is the message screamed that children and young girls and boys and even slightly older ones written off as ineffective? But then, I could just be being especially overprotective based on what both the media and what the streets show me… *shrugs*
Anyways, I wanted to offer some good reading from this week:
Girls will be girls: The battle for our children’s hearts and minds this Christmas
I should add at this point, while I’m thinking about it, that I am emphatically female. I am not cis, per se, but I am comfortable to be sexed female. I do not desire to match what the gender (a social construct), is supposed to be – I think heels are moronic and bad for you (and sorry, not flattering), don’t you dare buy me perfume, and no, I don’t want tubby old conductors attempting to soothe my soul with the world’s most romantic symphonies. I like video games, I like crafting, I like rolling around and chasing my kidlette… but I don’t like sitting around looking pretty for anyone. Who’s passive? Not me. If I had a pink phase, it was a grand total of a week before I shook off that *I* didn’t like pink, even if I had been told time and time again that I *had* to because I was a girl; my compromise was lavender for a few months before I gravitated fully to purple (though that’s just for looking – I like reds and blues and greens for wearing).
By the same token, boys get ignored thoroughly. They are told to be aggressive and silent; these make for a strong male. Because many have it ground into their minds that they have to be gay if they want to talk about their feelings, then they don’t. Because they do not or can not, we don’t know the full plight of their suffering. It’s worse because girls are more allowed to cross-play, while the thought of boys playing with dolls and dresses still squidges out many parents. Thankfully, that’s not the case amongst my personal friends, but I suspect so many do it because that’s how their parents do it, and it’s an inbred, knee-jerk response. Yes, there are biological differences between boy and girl children, but you know what? The differences between the two sexes are significantly less than the range of differences WITHIN the sex – it’s worth thinking about before you rush out to buy Bobby a baseball and Kimmy a doll just ’cause!
One teachers approach to preventing gender bullying in a classroom
This is the win, flat out. It makes me so happy that while the war on equality and understanding is still being fought, things like this are fantastic news from the front lines. To see such valid and important social education is amazing – it’s so easy to open childrens’ minds to different possibilities, and the sooner you start, the better. By the time children are 6, they have had a lifetime of conditioning, which only the strongest and bravest are willing to break through. In some ways, I’m fairly convinced that my generation had it better. That, or my parents managed to pick some of the best schools ever. Either way, the kids of now need our help to understand that being themselves is more than okay, and that they should not be bullied and harassed for it.
Hope you all have a nice day, and enjoy this little change of pace. 🙂