Cranky Vent: Gender Stereotyping

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Can I vent for a second?

I’ve seen a bunch of these “Things You Should Know About Raising Boys/Girls” lists lately and they are really bugging me.

Of course there is some truth to all of them but more often than not, I read these things and find myself saying, “Um… that was just as true with my daughter [or sons].”

I’m not going to link to specific columns because I know the authors have good intentions and are just trying to relate to other parents and be funny and hey, I get that… BUT these gender stereotypes are killing me!

Read this line in a column about raising boys:

“Watch a girl the same age as your nonstop ball of energy sit quietly and use glitter glue for 45 minutes and you may want to cry.”

Seriously?

First of all, I would be crying if I were the Mom of the kid using glitter glue for 45 minutes! You know how messy that shit is??

Second of all, it’s true that lots of girls like glitter glue and will sit quietly. You know who won’t? LOTS of OTHER GIRLS. Including my own. And guess what… the Nibbit loves glitter glue, too.

Here are some other doozies quotes I’ve gathered from various columns:

“Boys don’t stop moving.”
You know who else doesn’t stop moving? ALL TODDLERS. And many preschoolers. And also, many kids ages 0-18. And my daughter. Since she was born, she was known as “Constant Motion Baby” for this exact reason.

IMG_0260

“[Your daughter’s] desire to borrow your heels, jewels, handbags and more will start as soon as she can walk and talk (and grow from there).”
I actually don’t know one single girl who has this desire. I’m sure they are out there, but it’s just not widespread in my world. My own daughter would rather pay me her First Communion money than try on clothes or heels.

“Clothes shopping will be a piece of cake [with boys].”
Oh really? I guess you don’t have a three-year old SON who refuses to wear anything he deems “handsome” and a five-and-a-half-year old who only wants “sports shirts” or “shiny shorts.”

“Boys love to cuddle.”
This is true… <she types with her daughter in her lap.>

“Buy yourself a good set of headphones that block out noise. Girls talk. A lot.”
As opposed to boys, who are so quiet all the damn day long. Why won’t they just speak up?

“Roughhousing is innate [with boys].”
GUESS WHO INVENTED WRESTLE BABY??

You’ll buy her stuff she doesn’t need.”
Hey, don’t blame your compulsive shopping addiction on your kid, girl OR boy!

“There will be balls and sports equipment EVERYWHERE.”
Three words for you: TITLE IX, A-HOLE. (Or is that two words and a number? Whatever.)

GIRLS.

GIRLS.

“She’ll strike a sexy pose.”
UGH.

“The goofiness starts early [with boys].”
This one refers to general silliness and predisposition to potty humor. I’m going to go out on a limb and say EVERY SINGLE KID I KNOW is silly sometimes. And you know who laughs at fart jokes? EVERYONE AT THE DINNER TABLE… whether they want to or not.

She's laughing at a fart joke.

Yup, fart joke.

“Provide your daughter with good role models.”
… and throw your boys to the wolves! Or Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong. Same thing.

“Boys adore their Moms.”
GIRLS HATE THEIR MOMS.

And then there’s the generic “You’re house will be covered in cars, Legos and guns if you have boys!” and “… dress-up clothes, Barbies and art supplies if you have girls!

Wait, is that a dress AND a sexy pose?!? Oh oh.

Wait, is that a dress AND a sexy pose?!?

Boys like sports!

Girls like dolls!

Boys are noisy and destructive!

Girls are creative and sensitive!

Boys make a mess!

Girls bring the drama!

Boys like math!

Girls like boys!

Art

Hold the phone, are those boys doing ART??

Please stop.

*KIDS can be noisy and destructive.

*KIDS may be creative and sensitive.

*KIDS often make messes and create the drama and like math and yup, maybe even like boys.

ALL OF THEM HAVE SWORDS.

ALL OF THEM HAVE SWORDS.

Look, I try hard to avoid the soapbox – mostly because I’m too lazy to climb up (brings back bad memories of step-aerobics <shudder>) – but if you are a parent of both a son or a daughter OR if you have nieces and nephews OR if you’ve ever come into contact with a child of the “other” gender, then I don’t have to tell you that every kid is different.

Of course some kids “fit” the stereotypes but so so so so so many don’t. So let’s drop the generalizations.

If you want to talk about JUST boys, limit the conversation to “How to change a diaper while he pees in your face.” And the list about girls? “Wipe front to back.” That’s about it.

But if you want to write a list about ALL kids, well, that’s a different story.

So, here’s mine:

Top 9 Things You Need to Know About Parenting Boys. Girls.

  1. It’s hard. SUPER hard.
  2. They all have a boatload of effing energy.
  3. They all whine a lot and have big meltdowns AND are also all cute and funny.
  4. They’ll ALL love something… maybe art (glitter!), maybe sports (balls!), maybe reading, maybe cars, maybe clothes, maybe screens (probably screens)… maybe all of the above and your house will be full of the product of that passion.
  5. They have a TON of questions. ALL. QUESTIONS. ALL. OF. THE. TIME.
  6. Your house will always be a mess (glitter! balls!). And if it’s not a mess, then be honest, it’s because you’ve shoved everything into closets. PS. You’ll care a little bit less about this with each kid.
  7. They’re loud. All of them. Even the shy ones are loud at home.
  8. None of them like to sleep when they’re young. (And from what I hear, they all like to sleep too much when they’re older. But this Promised Land seems light years away to me.)
  9. They’re all exhausting. And amazing. And UNIQUE.

ALL of them.

2 responses »

  1. Excellent post – I’ve seen a lot of those blogs too. One of my 3 year old daughter’s favorite toys? Her digger, that beeps, backs up, goes forward and the scoop in the front that moves up and down. Also , the two men that came with it. Nolan has a mustache and Oscar has a blue shirt. I love that she likes princess wands and digging for worms. I always hoped if I had a daughter she’d do “boy” things as much as “girl” things. I could not agree with you more on this one!!!

  2. You are so right kris. Kids today shouldn’t be stereotyped by gender as boy things and girl things.It is up to the parents to expose all types of interest to their child and they can choose. It does not have to be pink or blue. Very interesting post.

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