When our first child was born, a girl, we tried to raise her without falling into gender stereotypes. I would buy clothing based on something I liked versus shopping in just the girls section. My daughter wore a lot of outfits with monsters and aliens on them, mixed with a few dresses. I never put one of those baby headbands on her or barettes to show people passing by she was a girl. It didn’t matter if they knew or not. Even her toys were mixed with trucks and dolls sometimes playing together.
When our second child was born, a boy this time, we tried to follow the same philosophy though I did find this harder to do. I may have been open to my son wearing more feminine colours but I wasn’t planning on putting him in a dress just to make a statement. As my kids got a little order and their personalities developed I could definitely see a difference between my son and daughter. I think as a parent we can influence the type of people they will become but I believe that part of who they are is engrained in them before they are born.
My son is very much a boy. He’s super active and always moving; he has a hard time sitting still for a long period of time. He loves to create as long as it involves Lego or blocks or items from the recycling bin. He enjoys stories that are about super heros and pirates and underpants. Some things about his boyness I struggle to understand, I mean how funny can a joke about a bird pooping on your head really be, but I’m coming to terms with it.
At school and in the playground and at T-ball, boys are required to listen and behave and show restraint. They’re mixed with girls and have to tone down their behaviour. I don’t disagree with this, I have two girls also and I wouldn’t want them knocked over by over zealous boys at recess. But boys need their own space to be boys, the loud, rambunctious, hyper boys. That’s one reason why I signed my son up for Beavers (a part of the Scouts program). It was his night to go out and do boy things. They run and play tag, they hunt for bugs, they practice wolf calls (the louder the better). My son loves it.
Now this freedom is being threatened, well in my opinion anyway. Now girls want to and can join the Scout groups. I think this is wrong. Now before you jump down my throat about how I’m perpetuating stereotypes and that girls should be allowed to do the same things as boys, this isn’t an argument against girls. I’m all for girls being given the same opportunities as boys. I think if girls want to dig in the dirt and built forts and dance under a full moon they should be allowed to. I just think they need to do it in their own group.
Boys and girls are different. I think it’s great that they’re integrated in school and clubs and as friends and other activities, but I also think it’s important that they have their own groups. Once you add girls into the mix, now boys need to be restrained from yelling as loud and running as fast and being as rough and that’s not fair.
I think my two girls are very fortunate to have access to so many opportunities through school and after school and going forward, and I have those parents and children who pushed for equal opportunities to thank and I am thankful. But as girls gain ground, boys are loosing theirs. Instead they are guilted into wanting to bond with boys, to do boy things, to play without girls. I try to raise my son to be respectful of everyone but he should also be proud that he’s a boy. Now if only the parents of his Beaver troop believed that too.