Geek. Pirate. Mom

The Life and Times of Whitney Drake

Posts tagged 'gender roles'

Like a girl.

I try my hardest to teach my boys that toys aren’t gendered, neither are TV shows or other interests.

But I’m still battling their peers, so there are a lot of follow-up conversations. Yesterday, I was working with the Little Kidlet on his homework and the Oldest Kidlet was going on about something.

I honestly don’t remember what, but it was probably movie related- they’d been watching promos on a new DVD. I do remember is that he’d been pouring himself orange juice when he shook his head, and seriously said. “But that’s a girl thing.”

The Little Kidlet gasped.

I froze, and turned around. “Sweetie. I have to tell you that I’m not mad at you.” Because he was already flinching, because I must have been giving him the death glare. “But it does hurt when I hear you say that something is just for boys or just for girls. Because very few things are just for boys or girls- and even then, they’re usually health related. If you wanted to take ballet, and someone said it was just for girls, I’d probably get in their face and set them straight. If either of you had been a girl and said you wanted to go into space or be a physicist, I would do the same if anyone said you couldn’t. If it’s what makes you happy, and it isn’t hurting anyone- it doesn’t matter if you’re a boy or a girl. Capisce?”

He looked at me, sort of pleased and afraid. “You’d do that?”

“Of course, baby.” I might seem meek, but my mom made sure that few people told me I couldn’t do something. I’m going to follow in her footsteps. Fear me. “I’m your mom, it’s my job to try to make sure that you have a happy life, and that mean people back off. Until you’re old enough to handle it, anyways.”

He blinked. “You and the girls I know are pretty scary. I have no idea why people say that doing something ‘like a girl’ is a bad thing.” And then he walked off.

For the record, some of the girls he know are absolutely terrifying. 7 years old, and not afraid of the world at all- one’s a bit of a tomboy (but wears a Harajuku Mini hoodie), the other is all glamour girl (and can tell you everything about Star Wars and Batman). They’re pretty awesome.

So I guess I’m not too worried about the Oldest Kidlet. He makes comments like this when he isn’t thinking, and then the minute he stops to consider it, follows up with something incredibly insightful. We’ll keep fighting against society’s idea that women are somehow weak. But I think that so far as my kids are concerned, they’ll at least understand that isn’t true.

(And through all of this? The Little Kidlet just gaped, because he knew the second his brother said that first comment, I was not going to be happy. I’ve heard him tell classmates at recess that they can play Marvel heroes with him, and that he knows a few girl characters they could be, but it’s okay if they play as a guy if they want to.)

What’s your favorite color?

“What’s your favorite color,” the Little Kidlet asked me as he sat on the toilet. (We have a lot of conversations while he’s trying to go)

“Green.”

“Not pink?” I suppose I made a weird face, because immediately he looked ashamed and said, “I said something wrong, didn’t I?”

As a little girl, I liked pink. I still do, but it isn’t my favorite color. I mostly wear black and the one color that’s prevalent is teal. I tend to buy accessories with it without even thinking. Heck, I dyed my hair teal.

But pink? I have some obnoxious running socks in hot pink, and a sports bra. But I also have socks in neon green and purple. And another sports bra in light blue. I don’t really have much of anything that’s pink at all.

So I took a deep breath. “Why do you think my favorite color is pink?”

“Because pink is a girl color.”

From there I had the usual conversation about how colors are colors. There aren’t any colors that are boy colors or girl colors. Yes, the usual conversation. It’s one I’ve had with his older brother, countless times.

My little Ninja Turtle. He now has a mask, and a katana.

And you want to know why? It isn’t because of anything they’re taught at school, or anything they’ve learned from their family. I wouldn’t even say it’s because of their friends at school- I’ve met a lot of the kids they know. The Oldest Kidlet plays Star Wars with Little Geek Girl (whose favorite color is “leopard print”). The Little Kidlet is fine with playing house with one of the girls in his class, so long as he gets to be the Ninja Turtle.

I feel comfortable saying that it’s because of the commercials they see. Toys with girls in the commercials? Everything is pink and purple. Anything with boys uses the rest of the color spectrum. And despite all my hard work to teach them that you can play with whatever toy you want, that Star Wars and other geeky things are for girls too (that one was easy since I like Star Wars, Pirates, LEGOs and video games) and that boys like My Little Pony, too… those damn commercials undo all the work that I do.

I see so many people shrug off complaints about gender bias in children’s advertising- and complaints about how deeply it affects younger children, too. But when you look at my two boys- at five and nearly seven, and they know all the names of Disney Channel shows that they don’t watch but see ads for between the shows we do watch, as well as brand names and jingles for about a dozen toys we’ve never owned… it works. It does affect them.

And yes, I am fighting it all the way.

How do you handle conversations about gender roles with your kids?

Brave. See it.

Here there be spoilers. This is both my review of Brave as well as a discussion about the movie- while I tried not to get too in depth with the movie, it’s hard to address some of the criticism the movie’s received without discussing the movie. If you want to remain spoiler free, the title of this piece and the paragraph is my opinion.

I saw Brave on Sunday morning with my boys. It was their first movie theater movie- and despite the fact that it was a much more intense movie than advertised, they survived. While it wasn’t quite to their liking- I loved it.

I’ve seen a lot of negative reviews about the movie, which baffle me. Most feel as though they watched a completely different movie than I did, or expected the movie to be about one theme and ignored the rest. Perhaps they don’t understand pantomiming bears. When Brave seemed to get more negative reviews than Cars 2, which was the most conventional, least imaginative movie Pixar has put out- there’s something else at work here.

Brave is, on the surface, the story of Merida. The oldest child of the King, Merida is reaching the age where she should be bethrothed to one of the sons of the three clan heads. Merida is just as you’ve seen in the previews. She’s brave (as the title of the movie suggests), athletic, and not very much of a girly girl. Her idea of a good time isn’t learning etiquette from her mother, but riding through the woods on her trusty steed while shooting at targets. She doesn’t think her mother understands her, though she doesn’t come out and say it. She whines, she groans- she’s a teenager.

Her mother, Elinor seems to be the polar opposite. She’s refined. She always knows how to act, what to say- though there are hints early on that Elinor is much stronger than she seems. She manages to quiet a room filled with angry Scots, without saying a single word.

Despite the fact that the plot includes will o’ the wisps and a witch, this actually feels like Pixar’s most realistic movie to me. It centers around the very real relationship between two very real female characters, and pushes them from being unsure of how to talk to each other openly to having to rely on each other.

As you might expect, the journey forces both of them to reexamine what they felt about the other. Elinor sees her daughter’s strength and stubbornness as more than something getting in the way of the princess she wants her to be, and Merida matures- realizing that simply because her mother is proper doesn’t mean that she can’t understand her. Or that her mother isn’t stronger than Merida believes her to be.

Merida and her family, from Pixar's BRAVE

It’s a remarkable movie for a few reasons. Merida is at times unlikeable. She’s selfish and ungrateful. It’s a hard mirror to look into for any adult- but we were probably a lot more like Merida than any Disney prince/princess. While she is right to want to speak up about the fact that she isn’t ready to be bethrothed, she’s wrong about a good many things.

Which brings me to my second reason. At the center of Brave is a complex relationship between two generations- one that feels a bit more honest and real than seen in most animated films. In most family movies, if there is conflict between a parent and child, the parent is wrong/prejudiced, the child merely misunderstood (see How to Train Your Dragon or The Little Mermaid). And if the child is wrong, it’s usually something minor. Brave actually dares to have conflict where neither party is right, but neither is totally wrong. It actually devolved into a harsh argument that felt real- the kind where it escalates until both sides say something they regret. It’s something you see often in real life, and in a lot of live action movies- but not often in a family film.

Plenty of reviews tried to criticize Brave for not having a story that supported Merida’s- completely overlooking that this movie isn’t just Merida’s coming-of-age story. It’s Elinor’s story too. The two stories fit together to make the whole.

Some people whined about it being TOO female heavy- which is a stupid argument to have. Both women have clear relationships with the four main male characters in the movie (Elinor and Fergus are seemingly as different as night and day, but there’s no doubt that he greatly appreciates her and indeed they both love each other deeply. Merida and her father are close, and understand each other because they have the same interests). Aside from Elinor and Merida, there’s only the maid and the witch as female characters. Everyone else in the movie is a man. Focusing on other relationships for the sake of “diversity” would have been silly – because the story was about Merida and Elinor.

Which bothers me- Toy Story and the sequels are ultimately about the relationship between two male toys and their male owner. Finding Nemo is about a father and a son. Monsters Inc is about two best friends who are guys. Ratatouille is about a rat and his boy. Oh and a son and his father. I don’t think that stopped a single woman from appreciating the stories. You could have adjusted genders in the movies and ultimately it wouldn’t have made much of a difference- because they’re relatable stories. You don’t need to be a woman to understand a coming of age story. Or what it’s like to think that your parents don’t understand you, or see that your children think you’ve forgotten what it feels like to be in their position.

I think that the damage comes from the sentiment that female centered movies are “chick flicks.” That there’s nothing in them for men. Thankfully, I married a man who watched chick flicks with his mom. So he knew that When Harry Met Sally might have been a love story, but it was a story about two real people. To him, movies were just movies. Sure, there might be some ridiculous movies that seem to pander to women (like Sex and the City), but there are movies that try to pander to men, too (see anything with Steven Seagal).

Brave isn’t a chick flick. It’s a story about two female characters. But the problems in their relationship could easily be problems that fathers and sons face- just look at Ratatouille for a Pixar movie about a strained relationship where father and son don’t see eye to eye. Or How to Train Your Dragon for a similar type of relationship strain. Nobody whined about Remy being unlikeable (when really, Remy was a snob)

I don’t want to give the opinion that I think criticisms of Brave are invalid- I completely understand people saying that the movie felt uneven (there were two directors that helmed Brave- Brenda Chapman was removed from the project, but the relationship between Elinor and Merida is undoubtedly as well-written as it is thanks to her). Or pointing out that the marketing campaign of the movie made it seem like it was a much lighter movie. That everything about the marketing focused on Merida, while not showing that the movie was about her mother, too.

But arguments that the movie is too female centric, that Merida isn’t likeable enough or that it didn’t feel like a Pixar movie- those are criticisms based on viewer’s expectations going into the movie, not the movie itself. Is Pixar not allowed to try to explore a darker more realistic story? Or are they supposed to keep making movies about things that all people experience, but in a way that doesn’t usually include human characters?

Finally- I saved the most ridiculous criticism for last. EW’s Adam Markovitz wondered if Merida might be gay. You know, because she’s a tomboy who says she isn’t ready to be married off. He even tried to point out that even Mulan had a love interest (when really, if you watch Mulan, Li Shang isn’t so much her love interest as she’s his- his storyline is about coming to terms with feelings towards a woman who isn’t what Chinese society accepts. She might have been attracted to him, but she knew that by pretending to be a man that wasn’t a possibility- and she was fine with that).

Many people in our society equate gender roles with sexuality. Assuming that a tomboy is a lesbian, or that a boy interested in ballet must be gay is wrong. People have interests. Not all fall in line with traditional gender roles. I babysat a wonderful little boy who loved ballet. His father didn’t want him to go into it because he didn’t want him to be gay- I told him I didn’t think he had a problem, his six year old son was busy telling everyone he was going to marry me.

Merida preferring a bow and arrow to working on needlepoint doesn’t mean she’s a lesbian. It just means she’s an individual. So stop making assumptions, people. Don’t you remember that adage about assumptions?

For what it’s worth, Merida never said she wasn’t interested in getting married ever. She just wasn’t ready to grow up yet. The movie was more about letting people grow up in their time, rather than forcing them into something they aren’t ready for.

So what are your thoughts on Brave – and on the strange reviews it’s been getting?

Sweetie.

There are plenty of times I like to hear that term of endearment. Like on Doctor Who. Because it means that River Song is lurking about, and I do love River.

I'm River Song. Check your records again.

Or when my mom’s reassuring me. That’s a sweetie that I love.

I don’t love it when men use it to patronize me.

Today I stopped in at Home Depot, fulfilling an agreement I’d made with TheBoy yesterday. I got to take a nap yesterday afternoon, so I tackled the errand he’d planned on running during that time- buying what we needed to rig up the pinata.

I admit, I’m dressed a little young today. I grabbed some black & white striped tights, a miniskirt and a black top, and called it a day. And I look a little young every day as it is. I don’t know my way around our local Home Depot, but I’ve spent enough time in home improvement stores over the years that I knew what aisles to look for. So I wasn’t going to ask for help, since I wanted to get a feel for the store, too.

And I rocked it. In fifteen minutes, I walked in the door, found what I needed, paid for it and walked back to my car. I was also asked by three separate employees if I needed help. Each of these men called me sweetie.

I wasn’t hearing things. These men weren’t being polite. They looked at little ol’ me and assumed that because I’m petite and wearing a mini-skirt, I had no idea what I was doing, even though I assured them I didn’t need help. And felt like calling me sweetie would somehow make the situation better.

By the time the last man asked me if I needed help choosing rope (when they have helpful little cards to explain the weight each type can carry), I lost it. I should have asked to talk to a manager, but I felt like just getting out of there.

So I told him this: “Excuse me? I’ve been going to home improvement stores since I was 7. My dad taught me how to use power tools when I was 10. I crewed about a dozen shows, working on set construction. I think I can pick out the rope and pully I need without help. Thanks.” And I grabbed my rope and pully and headed out towards the self-checkout.

I might be 5’2″ and a 95 lb weakling- but I know what I’m doing. Don’t assume that someone does or doesn’t need help. I don’t mind being asked- I do mind being asked after I’ve said no, because you think that I couldn’t possibly have a grasp on something like home improvement. Ugh.

At least they didn’t try it on River Song. I’d imagine they’d have been vaporized for being so ridiculous.

Day 5 of NaBloPoMo

Let’s Just Stop This Now, Shall We?

Late yesterday, on my Twitter feed, I saw a few friends ranting about a t-shirt being put out by JC Penney. Since I was already frustrated and exhausted, I thought I’d up my daily rage intake and see what the fuss was about.

I was not prepared for what I saw.

If you can’t quite read it, JC Penney was selling a t-shirt that says, “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me.”

Just think about that for a minute. I’m all for clever t-shirts. But this goes beyond a funny t-shirt to a t-shirt that reenforces a dangerous notion, that girls should be more interested in what they look like than school.

Yes, this is dangerous. Already, if you look at any women’s magazine, 90% of the editorial content will be about making yourself look better. 100% of the ads will be pushing that ideal as well. Eating disorders are becoming more common in younger girls, who look at the images of celebrities that are plastered everywhere and aspire to become that.

Not only that, we keep pushing this fantasy of the “reality star.” Where all you have to be is someone who looks good, and fame will follow. Kids are too young to realize that particular brand of fame is fleeting- that a reality star who doesn’t have any actual talent usually doesn’t hang onto the public’s attention for more than a couple years. Or that the young actresses who get cast on TV shows that aren’t particularly talented actresses, but are really pretty, have short careers too. It only takes growing a little older to suddenly find yourself out of work.

I should share that the JC Penney story has a happy ending (sort of). After the outcry from the internet and media, the t-shirt has been removed and they issued this apology:

jcpenney is committed to being America’s destination for great style and great value for the whole family. We agree that the “Too pretty” t-shirt does not deliver an appropriate message, and we have immediately discontinued its sale. Our merchandise is intended to appeal to a broad customer base, not to offend them. We would like to apologize to our customers and are taking action to ensure that we continue to uphold the integrity of our merchandise that they have come to expect.”

While this shirt was pulled, it should never have made it onto the sales floor. Not only did someone design it (probably hired to create a bunch of “clever” tees in a short period of time), but a buyer thought it’d be appropriate and decided to buy up those t-shirts. There were plenty of opportunities for someone to have seen the shirt and asked JCP if this was a good idea.

I hope that more retailers wise up. Every couple years, someone tries to sell a t-shirt like this, or put out a toy that belittles intelligence (remember that Barbie who said “math is hard!”?). Hopefully, the internet continues to galvanize and point out that this is just plain wrong- and not accept a quick apology. After all, my boys both apologize when I catch them doing something wrong. It doesn’t mean that they know not to try it again.

Yes, I have boys, not girls. But obviously, I’m a woman, and was a girl. A smart girl at that. I skipped kindergarten (back when it wasn’t an academic class) because I knew how to read. I excelled in math, science and reading. In middle school, I started to teach myself simple commands in BASIC and wrote text-based programs. When we had to take part in the school science fair, I didn’t just do a project that I thought would earn me a passing grade- I thought of one that I thought might take me to the state science fair. (Alas, I didn’t make it past the county level… but I tried)

I was lucky that my mom always encouraged me to learn more, and taught me from an early age that there was nothing wrong with being a smart girl. We went to museums, zoos, and just about anywhere that my sister and I wanted to go that was learning related. My parents encouraged us to learn how to use computers- which seems like a silly thing now, but back in 1989, not everyone had computers at home.

We as a society should be doing that for girls. We still fill commercials with toys that encourage boys to innovate, build and learn, while we encourage girls to nurture babies and look nice (link: Here’s a great YouTube video about that from 2010). Not saying that nurturing is a bad thing, but I say there’s no harm in letting little girls play carpenter with pretend tools or giving them erector sets to see what they come up with.

But the first step is making sure that we keep telling companies that t-shirts like this are unacceptable. We should be telling girls that being smart is the way to make it in the world.

How did my parents do it?

This morning a former colleague of mine posted on Facebook that he was happy he has girls instead of boys (he has two girls, roughly the same age as my boys), because he wouldn’t have to learn about dinosaurs. Ignoring the obvious gender role issue… it annoyed me a bit because, well, I was a girly girl… but I sure loved science!

My sister and I complained if we hadn’t been to a museum in awhile, and it generally didn’t matter what kind of museum. It could be an art museum, a children’s museum, a natural history museum or my favorite- the science museums. The highlight of our trips to San Diego wasn’t trips to Sea World, it was trips to Balboa Park to the museums!

I loved learning. Whether it was dinosaurs, marine animals, extinct mammals… I wanted to learn about them all. I threw myself headfirst into learning about the space program. Once my parents got a computer, I was on it all the time. Not just for typing up my school papers, but I taught myself how to use DOS and even learned how to program in BASIC. My sister was the same way too, though admittedly, I spent more time on space stuff and she spent more time learning about faerie lore. But we collaborated on a simple text based program that had a user walking down a hall and discovering various things in the rooms.

Talking to my mom about the dinosaur post, she said that being my parent was difficult. More often than not, I made them feel stupid- simply because I wanted to know something that neither of them knew much about. I realize now that the encyclopedia set in my room was less about helping me with my school work, and more about giving me a place to try to answer some of my own questions. She pointed out that there were lots of trips to the library or to museums to try to answer questions. When I was old enough, I do remember being turned loose on the microfiche at our library (oh how I love microfiche).

All this was done without the internet. While I have a son who asks just as many questions, I’ve been lucky that they’ve been about subjects I knew about or something that was googleable. I can have answers that are accurate enough to share within minutes.

But I am immensely grateful to both of them for giving my sister and I the opportunities to learn so many subjects, or that they taught us how to get information ourselves.

I will say though, that even with all my knowledge about dinosaurs, it has broken my heart to learn that the names I’d committed to memory have been rendered obsolete by new scientific findings. I am kidding. It’s proof that science is an amazing and ever evolving thing, where we learn more and more about subjects as time go by. Even if it means I have to get used to say pterosaur rather than pteradactyl. So thanks, Mom and Dad. You went through a lot to make sure that we got our answers, and kept us supplied with plenty of books. I really do appreciate all the work!

I am pleased to say that on the gender roles issue of that Facebook status, there were plenty of women who spoke up and said that they forced their parents to learn all sorts of non-girly information. Which is always wonderful to see- that I wasn’t the only scientifically minded girl out there.

ETA*: Always great to see people pop around for a discussion. Last month I posted about gender roles, and some of the damaging things we as a society do.

* ETA = Edited to Add

Gender roles? I stomp on them.

This week, I saw two things that made me wonder how we’re raising our kids these days… and why we haven’t come further. First was an old advice column from 2002 on Dr. Phil’s website.

In the column, a woman asked for advice about her 5 year old boy who had two older sisters and preferred to play with “girl toys” and wanted to wear girl clothes. The page is making the rounds of LGBT blogs, who are rightly concerned by Dr. Phil’s attitude. While he says that it could just be a phase, and clearly isn’t an indicator that her son is gay (which by the way, the mother never seemed to have mentioned). But he tells her to push the child towards boy clothes and boy toys, to direct him from anything that might confuse him.

Again, this is from 2002. It isn’t a new post, but it’s still on his blog. If he had changed his stance, then he should have removed the post, or clarified something on it. But he didn’t.

So what was the second thing? A friend of mine was lamenting that her son was being hassled about taking ballet. You know, since that’s for girls.

Can I just say once and for all, ballet is not just for girls. If it was, you wouldn’t have a Prince to attempt to save Odette in Swan Lake, a Nutcracker Prince or a Rat King. There would be no epic pas de deux filled with lifts.

My sister was a ballet dancer, and while there were rarely any boys in her classes when she was a girl, as she got older and moved up into more advanced classes… there were men. And obviously, the company she danced with was filled with them too. And you know what? Most of them were straight.

My friend’s son reminds me of a boy who lived across the street from us in high school. He was the sweetest little boy, whose greatest love was dancing. The summer my sister and I babysat him and his little sister, was a summer filled with two things- Barney and dance parties. You could put on any CD and he’d dance, dance, dance. But he loved to watch my sister dance, and tried his best to follow along. So he started to take ballet, and actually starred as Peter in a ballet of Peter and the Wolf. His dad had an issue with it.

Just so I can have it somewhere, here’s what I say to anyone when they try to say that ballet is just for girls. Ballet isn’t just for girls. It takes a great amount of strength and skill to dance the way that male dancers do- which is why a lot of professional athletes take ballet for agility (admittedly, a lot of pros turn to pilates and yoga these days). Just look at Gene Kelly, who was well versed in all sorts of dancing, but brought in ballet to many of his films. He danced with grace, but with an athleticism and masculinity that set him apart from other dancers. (No knock to Fred Astaire who seemed to glide effortlessly, but Gene Kelly made sure you knew it took a bit of effort- and it was worth every bit of it) Then look at Patrick Swayze. He grew up at his mother’s dance studio and played a lot of tough guys in Hollywood. Including a tough guy who danced in Dirty Dancing. (Exhibit A: Donald O’Connor and Gene Kelly “Moses“. Exhibit B: Donald O’Connor “Make Em Laugh” Ballet Exhibit A & B: Mikael Baryshnikov “Don Quixote” and a snippet from “White Nights“)

I get frustrated when people try to enforce gender roles. It’s deemed (mostly) acceptable if a girl is a tomboy, but weird for boys to want to do girl things. Let’s look at TheBoy and I. Yes, I am exceptionally girly. I cook, bake, sew, love make-up, jewelry and high heels. I also prefer my hair on the shorter side, really dig menswear (I even rocked a tie in the 6th grade), prefer action movies to chick flicks (though I do enjoy them), have played RPGs (the kind with dice and occasionally dungeons), love scifi, played video games (if I had more time, I still would)… oh, and I can use power tools. TheBoy? Grew up watching chick flicks and does enjoy watching them. He loves going to see plays and musicals, cooks and bakes as well, cleans… and honestly doesn’t know the difference between needle nose pliers and regular pliers.

Everywhere you seem to go on the internet, people complain about Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, who is a tomboy. She wears her hair short, dresses like a boy… and you know what? It could just be because she has two older brothers. It certainly has nothing to do with how she’s being raised, since her sister Zahara is a girly girl. And yet, you see people go on and on about how Angelina Jolie is raising her to be a lesbian… when she’s 5. (Lets not even get into the fact that you can’t make someone gay. You’re just born that way)

But that sort of attitude is everywhere. A blogger wrote about her preschooler being sneered at by mothers when he dressed as Daphne from Scooby Doo for Halloween. Last summer, my cousin bought my boys a cold bake oven (which we couldn’t actually use the mixes, since the Little Kidlet is allergic) that was Disney Princesses oven. Purple and pink. And you know what? To those two, it didn’t matter that it was purple and pink and had all the princesses… it was just an oven. They played with it for weeks, making us little treats out of Duplos.

I hope that everyone here remembers Katie, the first grader who was bullied because she liked Star Wars and was a girl. She was told that Star Wars was for boys, and for a few weeks, legions of geek girls were out there to tell her that sci-fi wasn’t just a boy thing. When I was writing a comment on Katie’s mother’s blog about it, my oldest sat next to me and asked what I was reading. I told him the whole story. He looked at me, with the strangest look on his face. “That wasn’t nice. Don’t they know that Star Wars is cool and for everyone?” I admit, he knows I love Star Wars. So at least I know I’m teaching him that girls can like whatever they want to like.

There really aren’t many things that are girl things and boy things, at least as far as toys and past times are concerned. Can’t we just be good parents, and support our kids in what they do? So what if your son wants to learn how to bake? He might become a famous pastry chef. What if he wants to dance? Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov had to get their start somewhere. Your daughter want to be a pilot or an astronaut? Amelia Earhart and Sally Ride paved the way for other women in the skies and space.

I believe that my role as a parent is to support my child, no matter what. I’m there to keep them safe, healthy and happy. If they want to learn to use a skateboard, I’m there with the helmet, safety equipment and bandaids. If either of them want to learn how to dance, I will find them a dance studio and take them to and from class. Because that’s what you do. You support them and love them. And you teach them that there’s no shame in being themselves.

So let’s ditch the gender roles. Maybe if we do, when our kids grow up there won’t be blatant sexism and discrimination (or at least they’ll be aware of it and better prepared to deal with it than we are). That might be a bit much to hope for, but really- if we aren’t changing the way our kids see the world, how is it ever going to change?

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