Post # 1
So my in-laws are gracious wonderful people and are helping us design our nursery and this conversation insued..
FIL: “How about a hunting theme?”
Me: “For a girl?”
FIL: “What? Girl’s can hunt if they want to!”
Me: “If she wants to hunt when she’s 11 and wants deer heads in her room the, we’ll talk. She’s not even here yet.”
FIL: “I see nothing wrong with that theme…”
Me: “Really? If I were having a boy could I make the nursery princess theme? Boys can wear pink and purple and play with dolls right?”
for the record if my daughter would ever want to hunt with her father, drive a four-wheeler, or be a mechanic, I would have NO problem with any of it (provided she proved some responsibility and we as parents deemed her responsible to do those things…), but I found it very interesting my FIL’s reaction when I switched this on him. So it got me thinking: why is it ok to encourage a girl to smash traditional gender roles, but we do not encourage this or even seem to discourage this in our boys? Why is it ok for girls to play with hotwheels and transformers but not ok for a boy to play house or with dolls? Is there a double standard when it comes to boys and their gender identity?
What do you think parents?
Post # 2
the_newlymintedmrs-s17: Very good question! I would argue that the hesitation to encourage boys to break gender roles is because of two things: firstly, the history of Feminism, and secondly, the hierarchical nature of gender roles. Feminism traditionally focused on women (obviously), which means that there’s now a tradition of women breaking gender roles both in the media and in the real world. Masculinity and how it affects men has really only become a point of discussion recently with the development of broader gender studies as a whole. Because of this history, it’s not crazy for your FIL to think of a girl hunting, though it may still seem strange to him to think of a boy playing pretty pink princess.
Typical theories of gender roles are also highly hierarchical, with men much, much socially higher than women. If you think of it this way, a woman “acting” like a man–so hunting, etc–can be considered to be raising her status, or trying to, to that of a man. We have a lot of underlying ideologies about “progress” in Western cultures, which means that it makes sense to think of a woman “progressing” her status by, say, breaking typical gendered roles for females. However, as a culture we generally see REGRESSION–so the opposite of progress–as really, terribly bad. Therefore the idea of a man REGRESSING along the social hierarchy by acting like a woman is not only foreign to us, it’s pretty damn scary for some people.
I read an awesome quote yesterday, and I’m trying to remember how it went, but it was something like: “Men fear Feminism because they think it means that women will do what men have done to them for the last hundred years.” I’m butchering it horribly and I’ll have to try to find the original, but basically that sums up the hierarchical nature of gender ideologies.
Post # 3
MrsRevolutionize: Thanks for your reply. I can see where we might look at a male getting in touch with more feminine elements as regression…hell even I have to examine my own feelings and wonder if I would discourage a son to skip ballet or dance in favor of football… perhaps not so much because I would not want him to pursue something he is interested in but more for the sake of avoiding judgment by an overly-critical society of what it means in order to be masculine. I just find it interesting in a culture that often pushes for progression and individuality why we seem to hold boys to a different standard than girls. In a sense, its almost as if women are more free to choose their interests than boys. Just an observation, but I think you’re right when you say we look at it as regression for boys. I wonder if we’ll ever drop that line of thinking…
Post # 4
the_newlymintedmrs-s17: I completely agree that we hold boys to a different standard, and I also understand how hard it is to get your head around it. I consider myself a fairly-forward thinking feminist (which means to me that I also try very hard to think about how masculinity works on men) but there’s still some moments where I catch myself putting some nasty judgement against someone as awesome as my FI for not “manning up,” which is horrible. Every time I do that, I try to imagine what it would be like if a guy told me to “woman up,” in terms of becoming more feminine, and my head and heart just hurt.
I do think things will start to change, though, with forward- and critically-thinking parents like yourself 🙂 Taking the time to examine your own beliefs is the first step–and it’s a massive one–towards making personal and social change, so you’re definitely on the right track!
Post # 5
MrsRevolutionize: Just wanted to chime in that I love the quote, butchered or not.
the_newlymintedmrs-s17: This thread made me think of that poor child from North Carolina who liked My Little Pony and had a backpack of his favorite character, Rainbow Dash. The school told him to stop carrying it because it made him a target for bullying. No reprimanding of the actual bullies just gender stereotypes being reinforced. 🙁
Post # 6
MrsRevolutionize: I think its hard NOT to sometimes slip into those traditional senses of gender, but hopefully, we can one day move past it. I think like all parents and soon-to-be parents, we just want our children to one day be happy and at peace with who they are, no matter what society may think of their interests or life pursuits. But I appreciate your insight. I think you’re dead on on why we think this way! We’ll keep up the good fight then so to speak to open those doors for girls AND boys
springbride23: I remember that article! Now can you imagine how crazy it would get if a GIRL was sent home because she had Optimus Prime on her backpack? There would be such an outcry! But when I saw that article about the boy, there were comments that actually BLAMED THE PARENT for allowing her son to take the backpack to school in the first place! Blows my mind!
Post # 7
Very simply put, a boy espousing any traditionally feminine attributes is seen as gay, and, we still see being gay as a bad thing. That is, we see the potential to be gay as a bad thing, even though, if a boy actually comes out as gay, it makes all of those things alright, all of a sudden. So, since our natural assumption is that a person is straight, the problem is, I think, more that being feminine makes you seen as less of a straight man.
Post # 8
the_newlymintedmrs-s17: Do you think women, which this board is, predominantly, are more accepting of breaking the gender stereotype because we understand how much it sucks? I know that’s not written the most eloquently but I’m on the phone with a client. 🙂
Post # 9
- Wedding: October 2011 - Bed & Breakfast
To quote the allmighty madonna (haha)
“Girls can wear jeans<br />And cut their hair short<br />Wear shirts and boots<br />’Cause it’s OK to be a boy<br />But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading<br />’Cause you think that being a girl is degrading”
There is definitely a stronger stigma against boys behaving like or enjoying things that are perceived as “feminine” than there is of girls behaving like or enjoying things that are perceived as being “masculine.” I encouraged DS to play with baby dolls, nurture his Care Bears, explore artistic as well as athletic pursuits, etc. I may have gotten the side eye, but I really didn’t care. I’m also one who doesn’t “do” super gendered clothes or room decor for wee ones. They should be allowed to develop their own identity rather than having one imposed upon them. I think we do boys and girls a disservice when we try to shove them into the mold we have pre-determined for them.
Post # 9
I don’t know if it’s a double standard, but it certainly is another way that femininity is devalued. Like how a boy being called a “girl” is a huge insult.
Post # 11
I definitely do.
If a girl does “boy things” then she’s just treated like one of the guys, or they see her being “stronger” or some BS like that. But if a boy does “girly” things then he’s considered less of a boy. Nobody bats an eye at a girl playing with her brothers action figures, but everyone screams gay if a boy plays with his sisters dolls.
Post # 12
springbride23: Haha, eloquent or not, I got your point! I don’t know… I think we tend to see “gender” in general as more fluid and changeable where as men tend to see those roles more solid and NOT flexible. So in a sense we do “get it” more but most of us as women were told we could “do whatever we wanted to do” and it was considered the height of femininity to explore whatever interest you wanted to, regardless as to whether it was a “man’s world” or not. You are right; we had to fight for it and perhaps we value it more? It’s not always the case, but girls in general just are not as judged for their life choices as boys are these days, especially if they chose something that goes against the norm of female stereotypes
Post # 13
Duncan: I think you are right with how this is judged in society but that’s truly a shame in my mind, that a man’s sexuality is judged by his choices. A woman chugs a beer and tells dirty jokes, she’s “one of the guys”… a man admits to watching and liking Sex and the City it’s all “Dude, that’s gay.”
Or even a step further, a girl makes out with her BFF at a college party and the guys are all “THATS HOT” but two guys? NOPE!
Post # 14
It’s considered the height of insult to call a man a woman. To call someone a “pussy” is to insult them. Now let’s put that into perspective. They are talking about the female genetalia. This is a part of the human body that can bring life into this world, and during labor, can withstand more pain than any man could handle, and can exert tremendous amount of strength in contractions/pushing. In sum, its a part of the body that can do amazing things, withstand lots of pain, and is very strong (never mind the pleasure it can provide). And yet that’s a part of the body that used as an insult to connote weakness (because women = weak). Now, lets compare this to the male genetalia. When it gets cold, it runs and hides. So you tell me who’s weak??
Sadly, even in 2014, boy = good, girl = bad.
Post # 15
- Wedding: November 2013 - St. Augustine Beach, FL
the_newlymintedmrs-s17: I love your response! Boys used to be called girls in ancient times (all babies were “girls” back then) and pink was reserved for boys because it was considered a masculine color while blue was a feminine color.
As far as a hunting themed nursery, why not a woodland or forest themed nursery, if you’re into it? No dead animals, no camo, and no guns.