Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Fundamental Things Apply....

5000 steps yesterday (but I started a few hours late); 8000 today. I've got to work on this.

I would like to issue a formal apology to Mental Tessarae for my ranting in her comments today. She posted a thoughtful essay on not wanting people to gender type her little girl; and I went on and on about how the sexes are indeed hardwired differently. I sounded irate. I don't know why. Maybe because I see parents worrying so much over things they have no control over, rather than just enjoying their kids for what they are.

Look - I have 3 boys and 3 girls, and even the least masculine of the boys would never dream of putting his hands on his hips when he gets mad. Girls, however, do this before they are even 2 years old. The girls also do these weird things with their feet when they are just standing around, pointing them while slinging a hip to one side, that boys never do. Girls smile and bat their eyes at strangers; boys, when feeling bashful, run and head butt the intruder. I don't know why.

These differences show up before age 2. Don't even ask me for the list of differences at age 13. I could write a book.

Acknowledging gender differences doesn't threaten the notion of equality between men and women. Just because girls have different mannerisms than boys doesn't mean they aren't capable of being engineers or astronauts or whatever. But we need to recognize and celebrate the differences between the sexes rather than try to ignore them. When we ignore them, we are ignoring an integral part of that person.

I want my girls to grow up to be strong and beautiful, but I also want them to be able to be vulnerable, scary as that might seem. It's hard to be nurturing to your own children and intimate with your spouse without being a little bit vulnerable. I want my boys to grow up gentle and caring, but they need to be strong and protective, also, to take care of my grandbabies (and to chase bats out of the house). Women and men complement each other very nicely, you know. I mean, do I have to draw a picture? This is a G-rated blog, after all.

(Sigh) Can you tell this is a pet peeve? I think I need to soothe my nerves with some Girl Scout cookies (see? Boy Scouts wouldn't be caught dead selling cookies) (Ha, ha! Joke! It's a joke!) and move on. This is just my predilection for traditional gender roles rearing its ugly head again...

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35 comments:

  1. I can give my girls two spoons and they will play mommy and baby with them. I can give my son the same spoons and he will use them as weapons. I didn't teach them this behavior, they came out this way. I actually used to be a sort of kind of believer in the idea that we train gender differences into our children. But then I actually HAD children.

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  2. I agree. Sometimes in this world we live in we cant say it as well as you did. I have three boys and one girl and I LOVE the hand on the hips. She will be two in april. Take care, walk walk walk.

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  3. I'll have to go read what she has to say, but I agree with you completely. I had strong notions of raising my children in a genderless environment and overalls; then I had acutal children! Two boys, two girls,
    BIG differences.

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  4. You are crackig me up over here. I have three girls, so I can pretty much vouch for the hands on hips when made thing.

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  5. Oops. Saw that it said "made" not "mad." Just as the comment disappeared into the comment-moderation sunset. I detest typos.

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  6. Words of wisdom indeed.

    hope you like your award - this post proves my point!

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  7. And let me add mes deux centimes: giving girls gender-neutral names. Madison is a town in Wisconsin. Why name a poor defenseless baby after a town in Wisconsin? OK, not everyone is as into family history research as we are in my tribe, but can you imagine the confusion and frustration a hundred years from now when some descendant is researching his/her ancestry and sees that somebody named Hunter married somebody named Madison, and having Not Clue One as to which was the husband and which was the wife? Not to mention those twits in Tinsel Town who name their children after food.

    Five daughters. Five divas. I rest my case. With my hand on my hip.

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  8. Sigh---I got to 10k steps ONCE. Since then, my counts have been pitiful---at least I now see the cold, hard truth!

    And, my son is so different from my girls. I do think that they are born with a lot of these traits and we either make them stronger or weaker depending on how we raise them.

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  9. You lost me with the hands on the hips. My 3yo son does that when he gets mad. I don't find it effeminate at all. I just let my kids be kids. They're very much boys, but the 3yo also loves mermaids. I truly don't understand what you're getting at with the hands on the hips, and it kind of lost me for everything else, too. Are you saying my kid must be effeminate if he does that?

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  10. I agree with you 100% and you're very, very lucky that I am leaving to go out of town tomorrow otherwise I'd leave a treatise on this topic right here, right now in your comment section!

    In the eyes of God men and women ARE equal, but they also ARE different. To acknowledge, and yes, even celebrate these differences doesn't elevate one over the other. At all.

    In no way do I feel less of a person if I let my husband kill the snake in the backyard, and he doesn't feel slighted if the boys come to me with their boo-boos.

    I don't understand why some find this difficult to understand.

    And as you so nicely put it, men and women complement each other on so many levels...and that is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

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  11. I got a chuckle out of Dr. Dobson's book on this subject. He said that while in the womb, boys have a hormone wash over their brain that literally kills off tons of brain cells. They are hardwired differently because of this testosterone wash since before they're born.

    And slightly brain dead.

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  12. Amen. I had my own severe misconceptions as a Women's Studies Minor in college that my teaching career in a high school quickly cleared up. And then when I had my own (3 boy children), I just sigh and pat the sweet "gender doesn't matter" new mothers on the head and wait for it...wait for it...

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  13. There are definite beautiful differences between boys and girls. ITA we should acknowledge that without fear. But i do enjoy Mental tesserae very much too. off to see if her blog shuts down my browser as usual.

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  14. I enjoy Mental Tessarae, too. My comments were in no way a personal attack - a lot of people feel as she does, and I just happen to disagree.

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  15. I'm with you on this one. Different doesn't mean lacking or inferior.

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  16. How funny that I didn't see your comments as a rant at all. Maybe I wasn't too clear in what I was trying to say, but I think we actually have similar conclusions. My point was that I used to balk at the notion that girls are just different. I used to think that the things our culture associates with femininity mostly come from our culture. But my experiences (limited to 2 years so far...) with a little girl have begun to convince me otherwise. I guess my take is that I'm conflicted because I want my daughter to be free to become whoever she wants to be and I don't want to hamper her with preconceived ideas about eating disorders or fashion. I want her to be herself and enjoy being a girl (whatever that means to her).

    Anyway, I appreciate your comments. It's a complicated issue and I'm in the middle of a sharp learning curve (but isn't that always the way it goes with parenting?)

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  17. I have two boys and two girls and see how totally different the boys and girls are. I love the differences too!

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  18. As a dude in college, I don't have any of the street rep everyone else here has, but that hasn't stopped me from throwing in my uninformed opinion.

    I kinda see sex differences like race differences. There are often a lot of distinct differences between races, but we're getting better at letting people cross the stereotype lines. Similarly, although there are differences, boys and girls have a much wider sphere of behaviors to experiment with. I mean, guys can cook and clean and be stay-at-home dads without being looked down upon!

    Letting people be who they want to be without forcing them to overcome stereotypes? Check. Breaking down some socially constructed ideas of gender roles? Also check. Hurray society for moving in the right direction!

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  19. "Do I need to draw you a picture?" Hee hee! (I'm such a child!)

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  20. I attempted "gender neutral" with my oldest. If she got a doll? I got her a dump truck. If she got a kitchen set? I bought her a tool box. She'd put the doll down for a nap in the dump truck, and the hammer would be pounding chicken into fillets. Go figure.

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  21. Very well written! Everyone's differences should be celebrated. I love this post!

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  22. There are differences--it's undeniable. Neither gender is inferior for it.

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  23. I agree! I posted awhile ago how I play differently with my boys than my husband does. Boy play is new to me.
    It's a sensitive subject because I got a few, shall we say, strong opinions in my comments!

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  24. I totally agree with you. Somewhere along the way, the word "feminism" got royally messed up.

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  25. I just awarded you the "You Make My Day" award! Stop by to accept!

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  26. You said: "But we need to recognize and celebrate the differences between the sexes rather than try to ignore them."

    I totally agree. Somewhere along the line, it's as if it became a bad thing to be a "girly-girl." I can't tell you how many rants about girls clothing and pink and bows I have read, and I wonder, 'What's wrong with pink and bows?"

    I try very hard not to respond in different ways to my boy and my girl, but a lot of reactions are ingrained in people. When my son put on my high heels and clomped around the house, my husband didn't say anything, but I could see from his face that he wasn't entirely okay with it.

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  27. I have two boys and two girls and I've noticed the same thing...I don't know anyone who is trying to deny this so maybe it helps me be calm about the whole thing lol. I could get rolling though, if provoked so watch out!

    Oh and I'm new to your blog and just wanted to say hi! I'll be back to read more.

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  28. Amen! I have 3 girls and 3 boys too. My boys are nuts. They were born nuts. They'll stay nuts well into adulthood. Don't get me wrong - they're awesome and I love them every bit as much as my girls, but I don't pretend to understand how the male mind works! No matter what you do, boys and girls will be different because that's how they're made.

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  29. Hear, hear on the gender thing! I have only girls but come from a large family and have around 50 nieces & nephews. Hardwiring differences!!!! I had decided before I had kids that I would never stereotype....I still don't, I just recognize differences when I see them over and over and over from every kind of family upbringings!

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  30. before i had kids, I would have completely disagreed with you.

    now i know. Girls and boys are just different. Equal but different.

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  31. Well said and very true. Ofcourse my baby girl is too young to show any female personality characteristics, but I'll let you know on the hands on hip thing! ;)

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  32. I've loved Julie at Mental Tesserae for years, now. She's brilliant as well as nice. I saw her comment here. I knew that whatever you construed as a rant, she would find insightful because that's just how she rolls.

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  33. My son developed a love of cars before he was even 1, and I have no idea where it came from. Neither my husband nor I are particularly interested in the things; Magic Baby will play with them for hours. It's the same with all the little boys I've ever babysat too. Girls love dolls, boys love cars. It sounds sexist, but believe me I am the least sexist person ever- it's just true that boys and girls are different. I don't think there's anything wrong with it, though. It's just the way it is. And neither is any better than the other.

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  34. I agree with you here too. Totally.

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