Monday, May 23, 2011

The Cultural Impact on Anti-Feminism

I was taught the importance of being your own independent woman. Take my mom's four female first cousins, for example. Three of them kept their maiden name. And they aren't young. This slow moving progressive process has a lot of hiccups.

While we try very hard to teach our children that gender has no specific identity, they learn it through books, television, neighbors and tons of media sources.

I was watching my two and four year old niece and nephew the other day. Where some parents are splitting the responsibilities unevenely, their parents are pretty equal. They witness both parents cooking, cleaning, working, etc.

So when I took them to pick out cupcakes, I was literally shocked that my nephew requested a cupcake with a soccer ball. Where did he even hear the word "soccer ball?" This is not in his household vocabulary. My niece chose a cupcake with a kitty cat! I thought she was going to pick the alligator. I was disappointed. Not in them. But in what they are exposed to. Even in Madison. And I was so thrown off that he knew what the ball was - and was even able to indentify what type of ball - that I gasped and told the cashier I had no idea where he learned this. It was as if he had said a swear word.

Upon my sister's return home, I told her about this situation. She was slightly annoyed. It was clear that as hard as you try, even in Madison, Wisconsin, there are still old-fashioned people who think a ball is for a boy and a doll is for a girl.

When I was in the fifth grade, I listened over and over to my parent's record, "Free to be You and Me." I repeatedly sang the song, "William wants a Doll." Listen to the lyrics sometime. At the age of ten, I was taught that if a boy wants a doll, give him one!

While American Girl is a huge phenomenan, especially here in Madison - why not try buying one for your little boy? Kids may be genetically engineered. But if your little guy wants a doll, so be it.

Teach children to embrace anything. And don't code things as pink/blue. Remember, when I have a child, their name will be "Sam" and you will not know the gender....


  1. Isn't it a bit one-sided of you to expect that your nephew NOT like soccer balls and you niece NOT like cupcakes? How do you know they didn't see both options and expressed a preference one way or another?

  2. Alex,

    Thanks for your comment. I am not sure I understand your question. They were both picking out cupcakes. The decorative options were alligators, soccer balls, a pink kitty cat, etc. They saw lots of options, but chose ones that society would categorize as gender specific. Make sense? I am not saying that I expected him not to like a ball and her to dislike a pink cat. I am saying that these are two children who have never learned anything at home about our society's gender specific objects.

  3. My bad, misspoke, I meant the pink cat. My point is that they may have made those choices without any prodding from "society." It'd be one thing if your nephew asked for a kitty cat cupcake and the store owner said, "wouldn't you rather have a soccer ball one?" then your frustration would've been more well founded. But apparently the kids made the choices for themselves, based on their own inner wiring.

  4. We expose our daughter to a bit of everything. At 2 and 1/2 she could identify balls by name too. She has a train set, a kitchen, a lawn mower, boy and girl dolls, art projects, etc. When her boy friends come over, they play with all of the toys-even the pink stroller. Our friends are all willing to expose both genders to any kind of toy. But I am not terribly surprised that they picked along those lines. Saying that the genders are the same just isn't true. I am always shocked that even though we have dinos and trucks, boys tend to make those noises where Madeline uses them to line up and put in rows. Don't sweat it too time they may end up picking the opposite!

  5. Thanks for the comments. I guess I should let you know that this isn't something that is keeping me awake at night. They weren't born with an "inner wiring" on the names of specific types of balls. Clearly, their natural instinct may tell them they like specific things that they are "wired" with. It's just interesting more than anything.