Author Topic: Challenging gender roles /girls, boys and feminism  (Read 478 times)

Offline merce

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Challenging gender roles /girls, boys and feminism
« on: Feb 11, 2017, 11:19:11 AM »
I think anyone who has kids in mainstream school or nursery will have encountered the crushing weight of gender roles as they are inadvertently enforced by caregivers. From the first day our son started at nursery he would have heard the lovely staff saying 'what a lovely dress' to the girls. I hope we've countered that at home but there's only so much you can do. Age 5-6 was a particular flashpoint with a seemingly frantic need to impose systems on everything. But there were also years of playing equably alongside girls and consistent messages everywhere about equality and fairness.
Now, at 11, the challenges are different. I find myself talking about slut-shaming (not in those words) and obsessions with appearance. Porn is the next up.
The boys and girls seem to pursue separate paths at (mixed) school, though they clearly work together well. Music videos are a minefield. It's less the explicit issues that bother me than the implicit ones; I think we got or raised a critical thinker who will notice unfairness, but the way gender roles get internalised is much harder to resist. Obviously - that's how the gender system works.
Um - thoughts?

alana

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Re: Challenging gender roles /girls, boys and feminism
« Reply #1 on: Feb 11, 2017, 04:54:50 PM »
I would add to your list also adverts on TV! They are selling us values as well not just products.

Offline Amphelise

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Re: Challenging gender roles /girls, boys and feminism
« Reply #2 on: Feb 16, 2017, 12:33:20 PM »
Daniel, at almost 9, is becoming increasingly aware that what we tell him - the values and pushback that we promote - doesn't fit the status quo that he experiences at school. He often reminds himself, after speaking to us, that it's okay to play with girls, or that there's no such thing as 'girl stuff/boy stuff', or that actually quite a lot of the girls in his class like football too, etc.

(We have the same issue with religion, which is lowkey pushed in all primary schools, to my intense annoyance - the other day we had a vigorous conversation about how thanking "god" for things that human doctors and nurses have done goes against our values.)

We've started talking to him occasionally, when it's the right moment, about how some people think that we (wife and I) are doing the wrong thing or a strange thing by being together - we don't want it to come as a shock the first time someone expresses that out loud to him. I think that may also be how we will go about challenging the implicit gender stuff... discussing how history and tradition set people up to have beliefs that don't match with reality or that stop people from being free and happy.
"Well, at least I'm not a time-traveling, shape-shifting robot operated by miniaturized cross people. Which I've got to admit, I didn't see coming." ~ The Doctor

Offline Lizzie Dripping

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Re: Challenging gender roles /girls, boys and feminism
« Reply #3 on: Feb 18, 2017, 10:16:39 PM »
Since ours started at a new nursery she's been calling me Daddy.

The last nursery didn't assume that any child's grown-ups were related to them, much less that they'd be Mummy and Daddy, but the new one is a bit more socially traditional, plus at two the Small Person is aware of books and media and all the rest of it where the norm is Mummy and Daddy.  It is logical - she has a Mummy, therefore by a process of elimination, I'm Daddy... she does use it interchangeably with Mama, and my own attitude to gender-based nominatives is indifference, so I'm not too bothered.  I do miss the old nursery though.

Offline animalnitrate

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Re: Challenging gender roles /girls, boys and feminism
« Reply #4 on: Feb 20, 2017, 08:37:20 PM »
J, who is now nearly five, remarked the other day that "my plaits are like my disguise for when people say boys can't play princesses". He didn't seem at all bothered by it, and it was such a brief and off-hand comment that I wasn't even sure how committed he was to it, but it made me feel low-level sad. Until now (and still now), he has always been v comfortable liking what he likes and bossily pointing out that people who think boys can't X or girls shouldn't Y are wrong, but this pragmatic little nod to convention, the awareness that sometimes it might just be easier to let people think he *is* a girl - inevitable, probably, but sad nonetheless. I suppose it's a preferable solution to resigning himself to suitably boyish endeavours instead (for J in particular, I mean, given that a substantial proportion of his greatest likes are on the very pink end of that purported spectrum), and I take comfort in the fact that he seems to have at least made a couple of schoolfriends who think nothing of a pink sparkly boy - much easier to resist conforming, with that safety net.

Listening with interest to tales from parents of older children on all This Sort Of Thing.

Incidentally, Amphelise's post reminds me that I found myself bringing up homophobia with J for the first time a few weeks ago. It was relevant (although happily all historic and not personal) at the time, and I think he needs to have a bit of a grasp of that before he can really make sense of what Pride is all about. This is perhaps a whole other thread though and I don't want to derail this one with it!

Offline merce

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Re: Challenging gender roles /girls, boys and feminism
« Reply #5 on: Feb 25, 2017, 09:08:38 PM »
I found it quite painful, explaining why Pride mattered.
But re feminism- we are nicely surrounded with positive girl role models and messages of this girl can. I just wonder how that feels to a smallish boy with two powerful mums. Our assorted men have not turned out to be much present in daily life, so it's partly a  role model thing. Maybe it's also being at the fragile  start of adolescence.