Monday, January 14, 2013

Gender Issues

Let me start this by saying, if you know my grandmother, do NOT mention this blog post to her!!! For real! I know other family members will read it, and that is fine, just not my Gaga :)

I have never been a Princess girl (as most of you know) nor have I ever been one to really support gender stereotypes. I was a tomboy growing up, playing with my male cousins, wrestling, playing sports, beating the crap out of kids who picked on my cousin Jay. I didn't wear makeup until I was 26, and my mom still laughs at the fact that I am a hairstylist now. It isn't that I'm opposed to feminine things, I just don't want anyone telling me what I can and can't do because I am female.
Now that I am a mother to a daughter and a son, I love seeing the differences between the two of them. Some are obviously learned behaviors and some of them are not :) Stella LOVES a twirly dress and has a few princess things (none of them from me ;) ) but she loves woodworking with Daddy, tools and superheroes. I love when she dresses up and wants to paint her nails, but I am really glad that our house isn't overrun with Barbies and Disney Princesses. I really believe that parents need to think about the messages behind the marketing that goes into "traditional" gender roles with toys. The book "Cinderella  Ate My Daughter" is a great sociological, not boring, exploration into this idea.
Then there is my Roy. He is such a dude it is ridiculous! He wants to beat things, smash things, throw things. He is a different superhero everyday, some that he makes up on his own. I think the only reason he isn't a total jock is because his father doesn't "do sports". That part of his education will be up to me! He LOVES helping Daddy work on the motorcycles or house projects. But oh my goodness, he loves for me to paint his nails :) I do not think that his playing dress up or admiring my outfit means anything about him or his possible sexuality.  He likes to speak in a falsetto voice and say "I'm a girl!" He will put on fairy wings in a heartbeat. And he is without a doubt, super duper attached to his mommy. He tells me  100 times a day that he loves me, kisses and snuggles with me all the time, only wants mommy to get him in the mornings and tuck him in at night. He is sooooo sensitive and will tell you so. He MUST hug friends hello and goodbye. I love that my kids are not too caught up in what is for "girls vs. boys", although they will occasionally say something along those lines.
I think it is my job to encourage them to have tons of creative, imaginative free play and let them express themselves however they want. I don't want to lock them into any particular role or heaven forbid for them to feel they cannot do something because of their gender. I think that by encouraging them to play how they want they will be more sure of who they are. I want to support whatever interests they have. I want my girl to play sports and my boy to bake (and they do!) And while I want them to be free to play with whatever they want, I also don't want any toys that I feel perpetuate a negative stereotype. Which means the Bratz doll that Stella received for Christmas was quickly "lost" since I don't think it is appropriate for my little girl to have a doll in leather booty shorts, platform stripper shoes and collagen injected lips with black lip liner. Fortunately, Stella had never even heard of that brand of doll and was more interested in the microphone stand that came with her so her other dolls could use it to "rock out". I would much rather own every Disney princess doll there is than to have my little girl play with a doll that looks like a hooker. ( But I also didn't want to hurt my grandmother's feelings by explaining this to her; she meant no harm and that discussion would NOT have gone well!)

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