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Old 01-06-2013, 06:27 PM   #81
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Re: So whats the big deal with making sure babies gender conform?

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On the gender is taught aspect, bear with me as I'm just throwing out an idea...

Evolutionarily speaking, women are more important to the survival of the species - it takes them a long time to carry the babies, then nurse them. Men on the other hand are only "needed" for one small act, to provide sperm. One man could successfully impregnate several women in a short amount of time, but a woman is only fertile for a short period, and basically out of commission at least a year each time they get pregnant.

Therefore, it is important for the women to be protected, so that they in turn can protect the babies and have more. As such, the job of "protector and provider" has fallen on the men. Part of that job involved men being physically strong and showing aggression. Similarly, women needed to be nurturing. These skills were taught while growing up through play.

It's really only been fairly recently that the human species doesn't need to fight for survival, nor, with the advent of such tools as formula or breast pumps, are women solely able to care for the babies. That explains why there is a sudden push back, by women especially, against the gender roles, but it also explains why people still feel the inherent need to separate the roles of men and women. And really, if there was an apocalypse, I can pretty much guarantee that the gender roles will be more entrenched, as we'd once again have to protect the women in order to protect the species.

Does this make sense or am I just rambling?
I completely buy the idea that there are evolutionary, biologically determined differences between sexes. But: I also think those differences are socially magnified and dramatised in ways that are limiting and unnecessary, and often harmful. The *shape* of those differences are socially constructed, maintained and enforced. And I think big money can be made in the stratification of those differences, playing on people's anxieties (because gender and sexuality are obviously a core part of people's identities).

I think that sexed and gendered behaviour falls on a wiiiiide spectrum, socially speaking and developmentally. So I'm unwilling to make my individual and unique daughter fit some socially prescripted role. I'd rather give her the tools to make her own role.

FWIW, the kid has a large wardrobe full of dresses and stockings, frills, bows, trousers, sweaters, and a rainbow of colours from the boys and girls section of sundry shops. She can wear whatever she wants and routinely picks her own clothes even now (her outfits look no more bizarre than the ones my husband dresses her in, haha).

But I will be damned if I contribute to the enormous social pressures she will inevitably feel as a girl and woman in European and American society.

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Old 01-06-2013, 06:29 PM   #82
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Re: So whats the big deal with making sure babies gender conform?

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I gave my daughter a "boy" name - I guess she will struggle with statements the rest of her life. Lol.
Austen is just a unique name. I wouldn't know--especially with its spelling--what gender your daughter was until I saw her. I think it's a cool name.

Ditto for Jordan. As a little girl I think I knew some girl Jordans but not any boy Jordans, and that was back in the 80s.

Joey can also be gender neutral b/c of all the Josephinas and Jos.

James or the like, however... there doesn't seem to be any female precedent. But if the trend continues, then my whole objection that it comes at a girl's expense would prove moot . And what do I know anyway...?
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Old 01-06-2013, 06:32 PM   #83
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I agree that gender forcing is not cool. That is sort of the opposite of striving for gender neutrality though. My older son loves to wear pink and purple and its pretty hard to find these colors in the boys section. So I make/dye most of his clothes to suit his preferences. I'm not forcing him to be a girl, or to like girl things. I just reject the idea that these colors are only suitable for one type of gender identity.

Arabesque your theory sounds like Evolutionary Biology. Many senarios like this one have been floated by EB but they are suspect because they cannot be truly tested, and they tend to magically conform to whatever the modern mainstream is. I'm not trying to snark you, just EB annoys the crap out of me (very Men are from Mars Women are from Venus-esque).

To go back to the onesie that inspired all this...why would a heart be somehow inherently girly? People have brought up colors, but that onesie was brown with camo. Both are traditionally "boy" but because of the heart some folks would only put it on a girl. I find that odd.

Although maybe I shouldn't as there are lots of things I won't let my boys wear. I'm fine with hearts, but not so cool with footballs or Elmo.
I wasn't thinking men are from mars women are from Venus, more that really we are just animals, and animals adapt to their circumstances in ways that allow for survival of the species. The problem is that it takes longer for our need to keep the species alive to adjust to the realities of the current world.
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Old 01-06-2013, 06:41 PM   #84
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Re: So whats the big deal with making sure babies gender conform?

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My FIL's name is Courtney and he is all about gender conformity, ironically. He bought my DS a cowboys and indians-style cap gun set when my DS was 3 MONTHS old...you know, in case we accidently let him play with those silly little girly teething rings or something.

But the toughest person in my family to get through to about gender conformity is my 4.5yo DD! She is constantly taking things away from DS (like My Little Ponies or princess stickers) because "they are girl things" and she tells him not to color with the pink marker because that's a girl color. It's not something we enforce at all in our home, though obviously I have my suspicions about the inlaws. I couldn't care less if my son plays with ponies or wants a princess sticker, he can have both while wearing a pink tiara if he wants. I'm working on it...
My understanding is that psychologically it is natural for girls and boys to go through a stage of wanting to keep things "girl" or "boy" as part of their process of learning their identity/belonging. So she may just be at that age where it is important to her and thus is challenging her brother's interest. That is, it may not be your in-laws. My best understanding is that this should not really be fought apart from the typical reprimands about sharing and about another child's interests being ok. But when it's imposed by the adults or learned from media, it can shut down parts of them that they then self-reject and cease to explore.


I also agree with the statements here about missing the point of gender neutrality. It's not about making a world where kids don't wear pink or blue. One of my friend's girls would go to sleep in pretty dresses if she could. She HATES to put pants on. Her three sisters are opposite. It's not about a world where every girl will be interested in power tools.

It IS about not telling boys, "Well, boys don't cry" and not teaching girls, "Well, everyone likes a quiet girl; your brother will make up the rules for your game." Every kid will have their own interests, and the timing of brain development patterns are generally different for boys and girls so that boys will grasp machinations sooner and girls language sooner. It's just not boxing them into one stage or area of development--not making too many assumptions.
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Old 01-06-2013, 06:49 PM   #85
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Originally Posted by jam's mum

I completely buy the idea that there are evolutionary, biologically determined differences between sexes. But: I also think those differences are socially magnified and dramatised in ways that are limiting and unnecessary, and often harmful. The *shape* of those differences are socially constructed, maintained and enforced. And I think big money can be made in the stratification of those differences, playing on people's anxieties (because gender and sexuality are obviously a core part of people's identities).

I think that sexed and gendered behaviour falls on a wiiiiide spectrum, socially speaking and developmentally. So I'm unwilling to make my individual and unique daughter fit some socially prescripted role. I'd rather give her the tools to make her own role.

FWIW, the kid has a large wardrobe full of dresses and stockings, frills, bows, trousers, sweaters, and a rainbow of colours from the boys and girls section of sundry shops. She can wear whatever she wants and routinely picks her own clothes even now (her outfits look no more bizarre than the ones my husband dresses her in, haha).

But I will be damned if I contribute to the enormous social pressures she will inevitably feel as a girl and woman in European and American society.
Oh I totally agree that society plays a role, I was just arguing against the person that stated gender roles are 100% the result of society. I do think that gender roles are an amalgam of several influences, including, but not limited to, society AND biology.
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Old 01-06-2013, 06:53 PM   #86
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But I will be damned if I contribute to the enormous social pressures she will inevitably feel as a girl and woman in European and American society.
And they do come. Aunt Sarah playfully talks about icky boys, and Nana says that purple is a girl color and Gramps says that blue is for boys and grandma wants to put a bow in her hair to make her pretty.

And all of these lines these well-meaning people draw in her sand are subtly sending her messages about how to measure self-worth. Or at least how it works beyond our four walls.

It's good and bad, right? I mean it's bad because we don't want our precious children pigeon holed. But it's good to a certain extent because I don't want the "rules" to be a shocking surprise.

I remember in first grade I insisted that the record I bring in to share with the class be a folk artist named Melanie. Little did I know that everyone else was bringing in KISS and that they would laugh at me. This kind of stuff shapes us. It's nice to be at least vaguely aware of what society expects of us, heartbreaking though it is.
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Old 01-06-2013, 07:04 PM   #87
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Re: So whats the big deal with making sure babies gender conform?

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And they do come. Aunt Sarah playfully talks about icky boys, and Nana says that purple is a girl color and Gramps says that blue is for boys and grandma wants to put a bow in her hair to make her pretty.

And all of these lines these well-meaning people draw in her sand are subtly sending her messages about how to measure self-worth. Or at least how it works beyond our four walls.

It's good and bad, right? I mean it's bad because we don't want our precious children pigeon holed. But it's good to a certain extent because I don't want the "rules" to be a shocking surprise.

I remember in first grade I insisted that the record I bring in to share with the class be a folk artist named Melanie. Little did I know that everyone else was bringing in KISS and that they would laugh at me. This kind of stuff shapes us. It's nice to be at least vaguely aware of what society expects of us, heartbreaking though it is.
I was totally the folk music child too... except the other girls all liked the spice girls.

This is something I'm really sickened at the thought of, but I know it can't be avoided. I used to wonder whether it would be better for her to be nurtured and protected all her life, or broken and battered by the world - if she was whole and happy, would she be able to relate to all the rest of us who are weighed down with emotional baggage? Or is it better to be damaged in the same way as the rest of your society and share their experiences, the better to be able to understand each other?

Now I've been reading attachment theory, and I'm trying to envisage our home as safe and loving stable ground from which she can deal with the slings and arrows, so to speak.

But I get nightmares about her feeling small and shamed by other people.
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Old 01-06-2013, 07:32 PM   #88
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Re: So whats the big deal with making sure babies gender conform?

We don't care what the kids wear or play with. Both boys have "boy" clothes and "girly" clothes, they both have pink shirts. They like cars, trucks, super heros, puzzles, all sorts of books, dolls, babies and even have a pink doll house. If this baby is a girl she'll be dressed like a boy for awhile, since all I have is either GN or boy clothes. I'm sure she'll also play trucks and play in mud with her brothers, as well as dolls.

ETA: ds2 always gets comments that he's a pretty girl. I let my kids pick their outfits and normally ds2 is wearing a very boy outfit. And yet people still think he's a girl. Some lady told me today she thought he was a girl, despite his monster truck shirt and cargo pants, because he has red hair. Apparently only girls have red hair these days.

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Old 01-06-2013, 08:35 PM   #89
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Re: So whats the big deal with making sure babies gender conform?

I think you need to go with what the KID wants. If your boy child wants to play with a doll and you have a complete conniption and throw a fit that makes you a close minded individual (IMO). Like my BIL he 'caught' his son playing 'store' with my daughter (pushing a shopping cart with a doll in it and some fruit while my daughter ran the checker) he THREW A FIT because his son was playing with 'girl' toys. I think he's just an idiot.

My oldest son prefers rough & tumble, guns, sports, army stuff, etc...that's fine...that's his choice.

My daughter likes dolls and her doll house and dresses and dress up clothes and shoes and hair bows. That's fine because she pretty much chose it.

My youngest son will play baby dolls with his sister and then turn around and play Army Man with his big brother *shrug* whatever, it's no big thing to me.

I'd never disallow my boys from playing in the toy kitchen, I'd never disallow my daughter from participating in the Nerf gun wars.

I just let them do their own thing.

This little girl (the one in my belly) will probably have TONS of frill because Big Sister is just salivating over pink and lace and pretty dresses and how beautiful her little sister will look in this and that. If Baby Sister ends up being a tom boy I'm cool with that and Big Sister will have to put her dreams of make up buddy, dress up buddy and fellow Princess to bed lmao
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Old 01-06-2013, 08:35 PM   #90
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Re: So whats the big deal with making sure babies gender conform?

Didn't read the pps... My oldest has pink pajamas with rainbows and other girls pjs he likes and wears. DH only let me buy them because they were on clearance for like $2. DS1 loves pink. It breaks my heart sometimes when I realize he's starting to understand gender roles. We walked down the doll toy aisle the other day and he told me he didn't want to look at girl toys. But then last week we took him to a play place that had a pretend vanity and he played with it then came over to me and said "I'm a pretty girl now!". Cracked me up, I love him. It pisses me off that society is going to be stripping him of "him" as he learns more about how "they" say it is unacceptable for boys to behave that way.
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