Gender Shmender

From: kumquat37
Date: Jan 11 1998

okay, first of all let me point out that forcing kids into gender roles at a young age is Not A Good Thing; heck, they all LOOK alike at that age, why make them ACT alike too? I think it's healthy for all kids to play with whatever toys they want to (within reason, of course). Taking away toys because they're the "wrong" gender while also telling them it's good to be curious is definitely sending mixed messages. My parents NEVER tried to keep me away from "boy" toys, nor did they try to feed me the garbage that passes for girl toys. It would have been futile anyway; i have a brother three years younger than i am, and usually we ended up sharing Legos and transformers and G.I. Joes and running all over the neighborhood together. I was a Barbie hater, even as a little kid, and when my sister was born and my few Barbies were called back into commission, they all turned out to be headless. Ken had remained intact, however, although i used to make the Barbies boss him around and beat him up all the time. (yeah, i was kind of a sadistic little bugger) I think Ken was built heftier than Barbie; her limbs came off way more easily than his.

The non-gender-stereotype thing went both ways; my brother had a doll too; i think he wanted one because he saw that one of mine peed when you fed her water. I think we called her Tinkle-Winkle. He got a boy doll, and he loved it like it was his real child. I think that's going to serve him well later in life; our dad isn't one for hands-on parenting, so he hasn't got much of an example to follow there.

I guess the whole point of this rambley post is that I am from a non-gender-stereotyped family - my baby sister (she's 6 now) is the first one to really want toys made for girls, and when she said she wanted to be a cheerleader i almost died - and all three of us kids are turning out okay. We don't think we have to be Barbies and Kens (i am NO Barbie, and i love myself the way i am; my brother is a mini goth computer geek with vampire fangs; even little Jessie already knows she's as good as the boys and sticks up for herself on the baskeball court and in the classroom) and we certainly don't cave in to gender stereotypes.

Pick your battles, parents. My mom's philosophy is that it's better to bite your tongue over unimportant things, like hair color/length, clothing, and toys, and only argue when it's truly necessary, like over priorities or obeying rules. Pick your battles.

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Written 01/13/98