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Old 06-18-10   #1
canary

 
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Default "Gendering" the Youth

A big topic in the feminist community is that of establishing gender roles in society at an early age. Girls wear dresses and play with dolls, boys wear pants and collect bugs, etc. Feminists, amongst others, think that we shouldn't "gender" little girls and boys and let them engage in behaviors of either gender in order to find what "fits" for them.

A lot of different articles on the topic can be found here.

One of the many I have read so far, suggests that our media, mostly TV, may be responsible for this.

Quote:
In adult programmes women are not seen in high status occupations as often as men generally. Indeed, their jobs tend to be those more often associated with traditional feminine characteristics such as caring, organisation etc. and so we often see them as nurses or secretaries; those roles secondary to the man as doctor or 'boss'. When women are shown to be successful in their career, it is often to be at the expense of their personal life, which invariably tends to be unhappy.
However, they also present a counter-argument:

Quote:
Before analysing research conducted with such hypotheses, however, there are several schools of thought in which television might be considered to play a role in the acquisition of sex roles; the first being biological.
From the perspective of this theory, people are born with inherent gender oriented roles which are innate, and therefore, unchanging. This school of thought argues that women are born with 'feminine identities, and are naturally suited to the roles of mothering and house-keeping, whereas men are 'natural' hunters whose role is one of dominance.
According to such a theory, television would play little or no part in influencing sex roles, but perhaps only serve to reflect the underlying biological processes of social behaviour as they are in 'reality'. From this point of view, we can conclude that television would not be a consideration as to the possible influences of gender roles, and so, therefore, any individual arguing from such a perspective, would be highly unlikely to conduct any research in the manner of which we are focusing on here.
IMO, I feel as though the media does play a large role in gendering children, but so does biology, and so do the parents. In most children's television, with a few exceptions, the fathers tend to go to work, and the mothers stay home, or perhaps teach. Additionally, biologically, but also with exception, the female of the species tends to take care of the children and rear them until they are ready to be independent, while the father hunts or sometimes plays no role at all. The parents come in before the child is even born, painting the nursery blue or pink, buying little dresses or little pants, picking a feminine or masculine name, and buying different types of toys based on the gender of the child.

My question is, is this necessarily a bad thing? Do you think that we should let our little boys wear dresses and our little girls play with racecars if that is what they really want? Should we be upholding classical gender stereotypes, should we discard them, should we modify them?

My answer, personally, is that we should perhaps start off with the gender identity that is appropriate, and in terms of most things, let the child choose what he or she wants to do naturally. When it comes to clothing, I'm not so sure if I would let my son wear a dress to school. It's a tricky subject. I would want to raise them in an environment where they knew that they were just fine the way they were, and know that their gender does not automatically seal a certain kind of "fate" for them, but at the same time I wouldn't want them to be stigmatized by the public.

What do you think??

Last edited by canary; 06-18-10 at 07:05 PM. Reason: typos typos everywherrreee
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Old 06-18-10   #2
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Default Re: "Gendering" the Youth

I can see where they coming from but I don't see a problem in "gendering" children. I don't think you should chastise them for gender bending but at the same time they need to know that our society still has "acceptable" gender rules.
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Old 06-18-10   #3
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Default Re: "Gendering" the Youth

There are differences between boys and girls. I did not have cable when my two oldest were little, they did not have that influence in the home. While every now and again my son would play with a doll,or my daughter would want to play with race cars, for the most part, they flocked to things that "girls or boys would normally do"...if you can define normal, lol.

There are always going to be kids who like this or that that people might go "wha?" to. But, meh, I say let them like what they like. I do think biology does play as part in it at times. But this can vary greatly depending on the child.
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Old 06-18-10   #4
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Default Re: "Gendering" the Youth

That's a good point because growing up my two oldest sisters were tomboys or at least semi tomboys and one of them despite her artistic ability to know what goes together, doesn't care about high fashion and what not. And my mom was a self described tomboy growing up and due to her old fashioned doesn't like too much "girliness" as far as seductive clothing and "too much" makeup. But I never fancied men stuff, in fact the idea of getting clothes from the men's section of the store still makes me sick. Even though I wear jeans a lot and struggle in heels, I love girly stuff, I did hang out with boys growing up but I never really did the tomboy thing. And I loved Barbie, grew a large interests in fashion, media related stuff, for the most part identified as straight and went through a boy crazy phase kind of. I didn't really have any objections to wearing a dress to church or ocassionally to school. Like right now I have 4 different subscriptions to fashion magazines soon to be 5 possibly but as a young girl I had subscriptions to Seventeen and Teen magazines from the time I was 10/11 all the way up to age 19. And I would occassionally buy other magazines that were like it. I honestly think if I were born a man biologically I would at the very least be a bisexual pretty boy but at the most extreme I'd probably be a transsexual. Even though I identify as straight I find that I don't like macho male attitudes coming from either gender, you know the type. I like soft guys who might end up gay or somewhere in between the Alpha male and the "pussy" types

Some people may view me as being harsh on women who bluntly speak their minds but I'm just usually turned on by soft images and attitudes. I'm not saying anybody shouldn't speak their mind, I do appreciate an independent, strong spirit but just not bitchy or asshole like behavior, there is a difference

But anyway the point I was trying to make is sometimes the "gendering" behaviors aren't related to how you were raised and how your environment. My mom and I would fight all the time about clothes and how much makeup I could wear, etc.
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Old 06-19-10   #5
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Default Re: "Gendering" the Youth

I'm big on not gender stereotyping. There are differences in boys and girls, that is undeniable, it is biological (I'm not talking just physical, there are innate differences as well, however they are not nearly as large as what society makes it out to be), however I do.not.ever. tell my daughter they can't do ___ or be ___ or act like ___ because they are females. I feel I have done a rather well job in raising my daughters so far in understanding that they are females, one day they will grow up and it is their bodies that carry children and birth them (Kailey def. knows this, she talks about it all the time and can't wait to have kids, she wants girls, not boys because apparently they're icky and I have no idea how she came to that conclusion lol - she saw me give birth to Nola so she knows exactly how the baby comes out lol). Anyway, we have dresses and pink fairy stuff and all the "typical" girly stuff you will find anywhere, on the other hand, we also have a healthy amount of "boy" stuff, and I quote because I don't genderize (is that a word?) toys, they are toys to me, anyone can have them/like them.

Kailey wears boy underwear a lot of times because it's only in the boy section we can find The Incredible Hulk and The Incredibles etc.. She is obsessed with Buzz Light Year (went as him for Halloween when she was 2, I had to explain to Ras that he can't push her into being a princess, she needs to be what she wants to be), has Buzz underwear (again boys) shirts, a Hulk poster in her room. Ras is going to build a playhouse/dollhouse in the backyard and he adamantly wanted to make it pink. I asked him why and told him Kailey will choose whatever color she wants, but we're not going to push a "typical color" on her just because she has a vagina. No wonder girls like pink so much, it's pushed on them the instant they wear their first outfit.

On Kailey's 2nd birthday our friends were over with their two boys. One of the boys was pushing a stroller w/ a baby in it. The parents freaked out and told their boys that that is for girls. And we wonder why there is a large disconnect between fathers and parenthood in our society today? I gently commented on "Well, he's going to be a Dad one day... he'll be pushing a stroller and caring for his children will he not?" and they looked like a lightbulb went off..."Well, yea I guess you're right."... one step in breaking a conditioning that we have from birth.

Hm, so yea, I don't like gender stereotyping, but I teach my children (and one day the same with a son if I ever have one) the healthy differences between males and females, both physically and psychologically, and allow them to be themselves and grow and learn in their time, with their desires, wants and needs, not what society tells them should be their desires, wants, and needs.

My daughters may grow up and want to be in a dominant male industry of some type. I will never tell them they cannot do it, because they can... but I also will not disillusion them into thinking it will be a cake walk, because it won't... breaking through the barriers of societies gender stereotyping is no easy task.

I will never allow my children's sexual anatomy define WHO they are or how I treat them. I'm very proud of how I have raised my daughters thus far.
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Old 06-19-10   #6
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Default Re: "Gendering" the Youth

Oh speaking of pink even though I'm girly I don't wear a lot of pink and it actually wasn't favorite color growing up. Up until I was maybe in middle school my favorite colors were red and purple now it's red and blue. I tend not to wear a lot of pink because it's not my best color for my complexion anyway. I do have some pink in my room decorations but not so much on my walls or bed spread. Right now I have a light green/pastel wall scheme with white bed sheets and a comfy dark blue cover.
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Old 06-19-10   #7
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Default Re: "Gendering" the Youth

I have always been a very "inbetween" sort of girl when it comes to gender roles. I was raised with the idea that I could do anything and learn anything and be anyone. I have not felt restricted to a specific feminine role and I have always pushed at the boundaries of the feminine aspects of myself.

When I was little, I walked around in any clothes I liked and I took more part in the rough-and-tumble games than the very sweet ones. I had lots of female friends, but also quite a few male ones. I was hailed as 'queen of soccer' and as 'the sweetest girl of the lot'. I have never really sought to restrict myself from being 'one of the guys' and I still love to dive into testosterone-filled areas and have a genuine party there. On the other hand, I love to dress up and look beautiful. I love the femininity of my body and the caregiving aspect of my personality. To make a long story short: I am currently devoting half my time to watching soccer matches and the other half of my time to networking and doing girly stuff.

I see a problem in over-gendering children. I would have been genuinely unhappy if I'd never been allowed to play soccer or play with toy cars when I was younger. I was not -- and will never be -- fully comfortable with the all-feminine role. I can imagine that boys might like to play with dolls every once in a while and when you let children dress up you don't often see a very gender-stereotypical thing come out of it. To deny a child their means of self-expression (because that is what this is to me) is to make them conform to the idea and opinion society wants them to have of themselves. Give them the liberty to decide for themselves and you will have a free-spirited child who won't be too scared to step out and surprise everybody with their ideas and opinions. They will find their own happy medium when given the time and space to do so. I know I certainly found balance between my male and female side.
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Old 06-19-10   #8
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Default Re: "Gendering" the Youth

Well I have to say I was sort of raised with gender ideal roles but not neccessarily in the typical, standard American fashion. Like my mom she's a very conservative Christian (borders on fundamentalism) and she believe women were to submissive to men (particularly a husband) but she didn't believe you should wear makeup all the time or so much of it in a flamboyant way or really to go around dressing "girly/sexy" in order to attract the opposite sex. She had no objection to girls playing sports, she did herself some, in fact I think she said she was a tomboy growing up but she was also raised on a farm and lived on a farm most of her childhood, and in the country but the gender roles in Appalachia have a certain amount of tradition but not neccessarily the sexualized fashion we've given them. But due to her beliefs she wouldn't agree with extreme forms of gender bending or the gay community. My mom she mostly wears dresses to church and funerals but will wear pants or even shorts around the house, she doesn't really wear shorts out in public, she finds them (especially the short shorts) immoral and she does wear makeup to church ironically but she doesn't wear bright or flamboyant colors or really much of it.

Oh and of course she always bought me barbies and dolls to play with since I loved them.
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Old 06-19-10   #9
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Default Re: "Gendering" the Youth

Well, my parents generally let me be myself [Although my mother didn't let me learn martial arts when I was a kid, which I'm still put out about... I'll never be as good as I could have been if she did. Ah, oh well...], but one thing that they did hide from me was the concept of sexuality. This led to much embarrasment on my part, especially after they told me that 'Valentines are for your special friends', which led me to give a valentine to my best friend... Which didn't work out too well.

So, in a kind of roundabout way, I do think that gender roles are a good thing. But it's also important to explain things to children, in straightforward ways that can't be misunderstood. Would've saved me a lot of drama in my younger years.
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Old 06-19-10   #10
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Default Re: "Gendering" the Youth

Oh well, when we were in Elementary school every year we'd have parties for Valentines and a lot of other holidays and we were encouraged to give each classmate in our particular classroom valentines, so it wasn't sexualized for us (that holiday) until middle school basically when the rules of the classroom changed and were introduced to the idea of having a different teacher for each class for a 45 minute period/mod each day and we just didn't throw parties and such like we did in our elementary school, so I quit giving Valentines and for the most part Christmas presents to classmate. In elementary we also drew names each year for Christmas.
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