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This might be your mother's feminism

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This is how it starts [Apr. 28th, 2008|03:30 pm]
This might be your mother's feminism


We recorded an episode of Bob the Builder during the Week We Let the TV Raise the Baby*. I resisted showing it to Lillian, a LOT. For DAYS. Because it is a boy show.

I bought her shoes that did not stay on securely, that interfered with her ability to run and play, because the only shoes that DID stay on securely were olive drab and navy, or black and silver, or brown and orange. Boy shoes. Mind you, my comfy shoes are white and navy, and I am not a boy.

Months ago, I let her pick out a book at the bookstore. She chose a book called "I Love Trucks." I almost put it back. Because it is a boy book.

What the hell is wrong with me?!!? How can I purge this awful instinct, which if I saw it in anyone else I would rant about it for hours? She's not a living doll to dress up, she's a human being, a strong, tough human being who loves to play rough. Ack.

*ETA: I've been horribly sick with a throat virus and opportunistic staph infection of the tonsils. I'm a stay-at-home mom, so when I get sick, the only relief pitcher is the TV. Trust me, I'm not happy about it either.

[User Picture]From: maevele
2008-04-28 10:36 pm (UTC)
Wow. Um. I guess at least you're aware of it, and can start consciously checking yourself for this, and stopping it when you see it happen?
And just really, Why? Not that you have to explain to me, I'm just thinking you need to ask yourself why you keep stifling her into gender roles.

I have the opposite problem, in that I hate to buy stuff that is girl coded, and my 20 month old will pick the pink option whenever it's available. I had to stop trying to push her to the more neutral/boy stuff and let her have the pinkass shoes.
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[User Picture]From: kathrynt
2008-04-28 10:40 pm (UTC)
I have no idea why. I'm vehemently opposed to all that kind of stuff. I was raised in Texas in a strongly gendered environment, and I hated it with a rank passion. While I was pregnant, I swore no pink, no rosebuds, no frills -- and then I gave birth and, I dunno, something happened!

I have since bought her secure shoes that stay on that she can run like crazy in. Not because I came to my senses, just because I finally found some that were pink and white. I'm so ashamed I can't even tell you.
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[User Picture]From: maevele
2008-04-29 01:16 am (UTC)
eh, screw shame, just stop it as much as you can. Even if you have to be really conscious about it, it is a choice, and you can just make different choices.
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[User Picture]From: maevele
2008-04-29 08:52 pm (UTC)
I guess I phrased it poorly if that's how you took it. I'm just saying it's not useful for her to feel shame about it, now that she's aware of it she has the power to make different choices.
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[User Picture]From: ailbhe
2008-04-28 10:59 pm (UTC)
Wow. They get inside your MIND. Wow.

Perhaps you need to swear off pink for a while? Buy her a boy thing for every two girl things? Because, you know, there's no reason to disparage pink, either.

If it helps, Bob the Builder has a nice subordinate female character to reinforce gender norms...
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[User Picture]From: kathrynt
2008-04-28 11:06 pm (UTC)
they DO get inside your mind. For what it's worth, we do a lot of very active play with her, lots of climbing and jumping and dancing, and I've never, say, told her not to do something because she would get dirty. And I did get her the truck book, and she doesn't have a lot of super-girly toys. But I was shocked to realize how strongly I've been pushing her away from stuff that I feel is intentionally targeted to boys.
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[User Picture]From: ailbhe
2008-04-29 08:29 am (UTC)
Our issue here is not pushing boy-stuff (boy-stuff is superior to girl-stuff because of innate boy-superiority!) too hard and letting them choose girl-stuff if they want it.

But having to consciously fight one's ingrained, born-and-bred sexisms is really fucking hard work. And a bit embarrassing.

And I resent it. Goodness me.
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From: lcwasser
2008-05-01 08:51 pm (UTC)
I never did understand the idea behind dolls and doll buggies being "girl toys." Are boys not going to become parents when they get older? Heck, my now 24-year-old son not only played with the dolls, he breastfed them! And his penis never fell off.

This kind of stuff was never really a problem in our house because I had so many kids that, really, the toys just got mixed up and everyone played with them.

I have caught myself steering a kid either into a traditional gender role subconciously or steering a child into a non-traditional choice because of my need to be a feminist and not the child's need at the moment. Weird, how we do that.

But I think, as long as you can take a step back and realize it, you can then re-direct yourself to a path that makes more sense for you and that particular child.
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[User Picture]From: thereyougothen
2008-04-29 08:06 am (UTC)
it must be easier with boys....

mine are now 7 and 4, and the younger one especially is very much not going to go near anything that might be girly. it's interesting, becasue the nursery school he goes to doesn't reinforce gender roles, but i think a couple of the boys come from households where they do.

i'm not sure how to steer him against this. the older one, while he won't wear pink, or play with dolls is much less vehement about these things. last year his class at school was two thirds girls - i think that probably helped!

as far as dressing her in pink, you know, if you like it and she likes it, great, it's not a problem. but yeah, let her play with trucks. my parents wouldn't let me have a train set. i still haven't forgiven them for that...
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[User Picture]From: ailbhe
2008-04-29 08:30 am (UTC)
Girls get pink, boys get camo. I think it's just that you know you're not socialising the boys for an inferior position. (Generic you, not specific you). I don't have any boys though so I'm guessing.
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[User Picture]From: wisemanharris
2008-04-29 10:04 am (UTC)
It's because marketing is a powerful tool! Especially when everything is *so* gender-coded, you are put in a position where you have to feel like you are making a feminist statement by Buying Your Little Girl A Boy's Book, you can't just buy your girl a book about trucks because she likes them.
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[User Picture]From: vinaigrettegirl
2008-06-25 03:16 am (UTC)
Hope this is getting better for you (I only lurk on motherism). It's hard to break one's own unconscious sexism, but if it helps, just look at her and think "human" not "girl".

I also suspect that maybe your own buttons about your childhood are getting pressed; so, so easy when one is a mother of a young child, it's normal, but scary until you know it's happening. if that resonates with you then maybe it will be painful to examine but worth it... ?
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