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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Gender Issues » Kids and challenging gender role's

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Author Topic: Kids and challenging gender role's
nixieGurl
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Over at the All Girl Army lately we have been having a lot of discussion on kids and gender roles, which has been not only really interesting to hear different perspectives on this, but really cool to hear stories where the gender roles, which we are so forced into as children, have been challenged. I have found that very often children who do not conform to their "normal" gender role are either labelled as strange and different, or pushed to do things that suit the gender role, by their own parents. Which is really rather sad. So I thought we could get some discussion going on in here.

So, how did your own families treat gender roles when you were growing up? Was it a big issue for the girl's to do "girl thing's" and the boy's to do "boy thing's"? Have you had any experiences where you have seen gender roles challenged by children themselves?

Discuss!

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lizenny
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Interestingly enough my parents really didn't pay that much attention to me when I was really young and with no siblings I was pretty much left to my own devices in that regard. When it comes to gender roles I turned out to be something else entirely and I'm guessing that that's why. In my family there was no pressure to be anything whatsoever.

When I hit 13, however my parents noticed that I was obviously not much of a girly girl and started to become critical of it. By that time I think it was too late for them to have any influence though. I'm not sure if it was because I was too old or because they didn't influence me much to begin with. It didn't seem like they were really sure of what to do about it and things often got awkward.

Here's a somewhat humorous bit of dialogue to illustrate this: [Razz]

Dad: Go shave under your arms!
15 year old lizenny: Why? (Seeing that my armpits tend to chafe like a hairless cat in an astroturf sweater)
Dad: Because.....[awkward silence]......I SAID SO!!!!

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JamsessionVT
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I played with dumptrucks and tractors in the sandbox when I was little. My brothers played with me. I hated (and still hate) the color pink. I wouldn't let my mom touch my hair. I went with my dad to his job site so I could sit in the backhoe with him. In short, I didn't grow up with any of the common gender roles a lot of my friends did.

Now that I think about it, I think my parents sort of encouraged me to challenge the gender roles as a young child. My dad loves to tease me about how feisty add headstrong I am, which is interesting considering I grew up with considerably more male influence than female. I think the way I was raised is important b/c it taught me to be stronger than you average female child. I never thought of going to work with my dad as a "boy thing", b/c to me it was just fun. I never thought of getting dirty or playing football as improper, b/c I love working hard and I love sports. So for me, being raised with those kinds of values never was a girl or a boy thing, it was just how things were.

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Abbie
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JamsessionVT
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(Great idea, by the way, nixie!)

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Abbie
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Menthol
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I had some girly-girl toys. I had my barbies and I had my my little ponys. But i had legos and I had lincoln logs and I had puzzles and other neutral, mentally stimulating games.

I don't feel somehow oppressed for being given dolls to play with. Sure, I'm reasonably femme. but I have never felt pressured about it one way or the other. I enjoy wearing skirts and heels here in my adulthood... but I also feel good in combat boots and a Pantera tee shirt.

While forcing anyone to conform to a gender stereotype is a bad thing... I think that pressuring someone into non-conformity is also a bad thing.

That is one thing that irks me about some feminists. I don't appreciate being looked down upon because I am somewhat femme. I don't appreciate being told that I shouldn't wear skirts because of oppression or blah blah blah. No man is my master... and nor will any women be, either.

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"I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction."
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Alea
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quote:
I don't appreciate being looked down upon because I am somewhat femme.
That's something I completely agree with you on, Menthol. I've had feminists take it too far with me in the past, and I admit it's given me a somewhat negative impression of the movement as a whole. I choose to be feminine. I like wearing skirts, and makeup. I enjoy traditionally "girly" things. I'm not the dominant personality in my relationship, and I'm not shy about the fact that that relationship is what many people would consider traditional. All of this is my choice, and my right as a person - and it's frustrating and painful when people make me feel like I'm wrong for who I am.


Anyway, more on topic - I always had options when I was younger, and I wasn't really pushed into traditional gender roles by my parents. In truth, I rebelled against those that general society set against me. I'm happy that I got to make the choice about my gender, instead of having it thrust on me at home. There was considerable pressure at school, however, to conform. My early aversion to "girl" things made school a more difficult experience than I think it would've been otherwise.

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Obscurity is the refuge of the incompetent.

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Menthol
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Well, I'm not a traditional sort of person, but to each her own.

To me, it's insulting that some people will scream and pull their hair and gnash their teeth about how men used to/still try to make the rules about what women can and cannot do, and decide what is or isn't good for them...

... and then they try to make and enforce their OWN set of rules.

It's trading one form of slavery for another.

I will do what i want to when i want to. I will wear what I want, when i want, around whom i want. I will say what i want, i will wear lipstick and perfume if I want, and i will revert to wearing torturous victorian undergarments IF I WANT.

The right to MAKE these sorts of choices... and then using that right freely... THAT is true freedom.

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"I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction."
~Ayn Rand

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echomikeromeo
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As a younger child I was quite feminine - little pink dresses, Barbies, the whole deal. I never really fit in with other girls, though, and I longed to be accepted by boys. Now... I don't really know what the correct term is, but I don't really go for defining myself with terms, either. Most of the time I dress and behave in a fairly average "masculine" manner, but I don't try to pass and I definitely identify as female.

Where this stops being autobiography, though, is that because most of my friends are not that sexually diverse, my choices in clothes, hobbies and lifestyle are noticed by those kids who I hang around with. I think that my choices - and I'm very proud of being able to make my own and not be constrained by traditional gender roles - have made at least a few people think. That's always, I believe, a positive thing.

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not_a_hobgoblin
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I have always chosen to be a feminine girl- but it's always been with my own odd twist. (For example, I wore dresses when I was little so I could show off my pretty Little Mermaid underwear when I did cartwheels; now I love the long flowing broomstick-type skirts rather than the 'miniskirt' norm.)

Meanwhile, my parents have provided good examples of nontraditional gender roles: my dad cooks dinner slightly more often than my mother, and he's the one with the subscription to Cook's Magazine who keeps making fun things like herb-encrusted pork roast. My mom is the one who's a fanatic about her chosen sport and her chosen team: baseball, and of course the Cardinals.

So while I'm a fairly girly girl, one of my 'masculine' brothers is affectionately referred to as our in-house Martha Stewart for his fantastic eye for color and shape, and my sister is, as she said when she was little, a very "boyish girl."

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SatisfactionBroughtItBack
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Well when I was growing up I was an only child for six years..and during those six years requested...no maybe the word is DEMANDED to have both dolls and action figures..so i ended with a mix of barbies flung around amongst Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles..but when my brother was born i seemed to be into the girly toys more as most of my boyish toys were handed to him...now i see a difference in me and my brother and little sister..my brother is more set to the 'rules' of bein a boy,boyish toys and embarrasment when anyone suggests he plays with anythign else...my sister is FIRMLY set to the 'rules of being female,everything MUST be pink or she gets annoyed.And I am a good mix between the two...Very short cropped hair,my rooms green,i have a goo mix of boyis clothes and girly clothes..it may be becoz i had a stronger sense of what i wanted(being an only child)and being so much more rebellious than my siblings,who were more strictly raised.

But what I would like to do with any future children I might have is to raise them with the option of becoming eithe rone or in the middle..i dont like the boundaries on gender issues displayed nowadays and wud like to see them bolished..

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PenguinBoy
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quote:
Originally posted by Tails:
it may be becoz i had a stronger sense of what i wanted

Possibly, but it doesn't necessarily mean there's anything wrong if your sister simply had a preference for their certain kinds of toys.

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SatisfactionBroughtItBack
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I understand this,and I wasnt impling there was anything WRONG so much as something I dont personally agree with.I dont feel comfortable that these lines have been drawn for us from a very young age.
I think it'd be alot more interesting if boys and girls had no boundaries in that sense whatsoever..if not another thought went out when a boy was seen playing with dolls or a girl playing with monster trucks.
I just find it an interesting thing to think about,its not necassarily 'wrong' that they are restrcited by these boundaries.I would just like to see more children being raised as I was before my brother and siser were born,with a good mix of colours,toys and clothing.

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I love you Sonic :)

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Guiltygard
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i supose eventhough i grew up with action man and my older sis had barbie i never really thought that girls like pink or boys love actionman.

I enjoy having my sister as a friend as she even enjoys playing action video games: devil may cry,counterstrike,DoA and i enjoy these but i also enjoy playing moregirl aproached games such as sims and etc.

I also hate it when the news says stuff like "women should not be on the frontline of the army". As the army should not be chosen as sex, why shouldn't a women be a soldier or a plumber or an electrition, and why shouldn't a man be a vet, a nurse or a teacher.

I'm 13 think i have strong views i'd like some constructive critosism as i spent a long time typing this.

[ 04-01-2007, 06:50 PM: Message edited by: Guiltygard ]

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SnowLhite
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I grew up in a very alternative home. I've mentioned in another post that my brother wore dresses as a baby and now at 27 has waist length hair, when mine only comes to my shoulders.
As a kid I was always very physically active, getting dirty and scraped up was the most natural thing in the world, as was taking dares and playing rough games with the boys that could result in bruises for days afterwards. At about age 7 I absolutely refused to wear skirts, which I kept up for three and a half years, although it may just have been out of practicality or even my pickiness about clothing. I also had dolls to play with, although my parents refused to let me have a barbie. When I did get one she became one of the most tortured characters in my games. I also insisted that my room be painted turquois. To this day I still detest pink. Most of my life I've pretty much considered myself a bit of a tomboy.
Now I like to play with gender roles, alternating between the ripped jeans and diesel-dyke jacket, and short skirts with fishnet stockings or mixing and matching as I feel comfortable.
My oldest niece loves playing with her dump truck but still wears her pink fairy wings, and my nephew wears his sisters clothes complete with alice band whilst hammering away at his latest creation. Basically in our family it's just be yourself, we knew from other kids that some things were 'girly' or 'boyish', but from our parents we learnt that it didn't matter.
Funny enough my mother was a stay-at-home mum and my dad worked so much we barely saw him, but our mother was definately the stronger figure as our dad has always been very mild.

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selina
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my dad was fairly traditional and wanted us girls to be princesses but overall he just wanted all of us to look groomed, including my bro. he accepted that my sis was a tomboy. he also died when i was 12 so i've not had any pressure from him! my mum is liberal and although encourages my sis to dress nicely when she needs to, is happy with how we all look. we had dolls but i never played mummies and daddies in nursery, it never appealed to me, especially when i saw certain people telling the kids how to behave 'daddy, put the baby down and go to work' etc. it just annoyed me

[ 04-09-2007, 08:20 AM: Message edited by: selina ]

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Johann7
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Great topic idea! (for reference, I'm a 21 year old male)

I grew up in a pretty gender-neutral home (obviously, with all those insidious socialization tactics used by the mass-media and schools, one can't have a completely gender-neutral childhood). Both of my parents worked (both in unversity administration, in fact, so there wasn't even an implicit gender ideal there), each cooked about half the week (and we split it to alternating days between the three of us when I was able) and the two people who had not cooked would clear the table and do the dishes. Housework was pretty evenly divided, although my mom typically did home-repair type jobs as she was more interested and better at it than my dad. I played with both action figures and dolls (I didn't own any Barbies, but I would play with them at friends' houses), took tap dance, gymnastics, and acting classes, and played in a co-ed soccer league. I was not dressed in/never wore dresses - it's not like I was explicitly forbidden to, but once I had the choice I never did - a fact for which I am a little sad, since it solidified my views on gendered clothing, but that's actually the most striking example of gender-typing I can think of (I suppose dresses and skirts would have been impractical for an active child like me, but I still find this one of the most difficult apsects of my own socialization to break).

So I had a pretty liberal childhood, and that is probably a large part of my liberal adulthood. The most severe external pressure I had to conform to gender roles began around 6-7th grade (this could very well be why many kids hate middle-school), although I was often 'mistaken' for a 'girl' when I was younger, due to my long hair - it was past my shoulders for most of my childhood (this never bothered me, because I had never been taught that being female was worse in any way than being male; it just made me think the person calling me 'young lady' or 'miss' was a ******* idiot for making assumptions based on my hair, especially since many parents of my generation had grown up in the 60's).

The upshot of all of this is that I've never understood what social fundamentalists find so threatening about female equality, homosexuality, and gender deconstruction. Except for those at the top of the social pyramid, it seems like "traditionalist" men are exerting such a large ammount of effort to hold on to such a small or even non-existant ammount of power over women. I've tried asking (politely, even), but it seems like most of them don't understand either.

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Ray-K
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Well, my parents both believed in letting their children be whoever they were going to be, which allowed my sister and I to do both "boy things" and "girl things." We wore dresses and played with dolls, but at the same time we played in the dirt and raced toy cars outside.

Later on in our lives, my sister began acting much more typically feminine than I did, and my mom and stepdad were both fine with it. My dad had a bit of a problem with me not shaving (especially my armpits) but he got over that quickly. He and some of my other relatives also seemed a little bit freaked out by some of my more "boyish" qualities, like the fact that I cut my hair short (even though plenty of girls do that now) and how I often dress in clothing that is typically considred masculine.

Over all, my family has been accepting of the fact that I do have a lot of masculine traits and qualities. Some of them (lots of my cousins) I suspect still have a problem with it, but, I myself, am comfortable with who I am and that is the most important thing to me.

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