An Uncomplicated Life Blog: Why Are We De-Gendering Everything?

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Why Are We De-Gendering Everything?

I thought genders were socially constructed, until I became a parent. Why is society hell bent on de-gendering everything?!

 

In light of Target and bathrooms and people calling to de-gender everything, I need to comment - NOT on what bathroom people use (aren't we all tired of that?!) but on the topic of gender. Some of the most outrageous comments I've seen on the topic state that "gender is a social construction!" and "let's take all gender-specific things away entirely!" And honestly, I'm just sitting over here with a massive eye roll. It must be fun to be so opinionated without any experience on the actual differences in gender, huh? I'm betting none of the people with those strong opinions have children.

Gender neutral seems to be the way of the future, but have you ever stopped to notice the real differences in gender?


In college, I thought gender was taught too. And for some things (like masculinity and teaching boys not to be emotionally vulnerable) I think it still is. Blue for boys and pink for girls is clearly made up by us as a society. However, to say that gender is entirely a social construction is a complete load of crap. How do I know? I had children. And I see what they do, the way they act, and the toys they prefer first hand every day. And it's not just my children - it's my friends children too, all reinforcing the same principle.

Otto is a mere 5 months old, so he's too young to be a part of this conversation. Henry, on the other hand, is the perfect age to demonstrate that "gender preferences" are a REAL thing. We have tons of gender neutral toys (blocks, puzzles, books, etc) for him to play with. He loves them. He also has a baby doll and a colony of stuffed animals, traditionally bought for girls. He has cars, trucks, trains and balls, traditionally bought for boys. He has play dates with boys and girls his age.

At two years old, he doesn't yet understand that he's a boy. He's just starting to stare at me when I get dressed, noticing that I have parts he doesn't and he has parts I don't. He doesn't prefer to play with boys or girls yet - he's still an equal opportunity friend! And he certainly doesn't understand the concept of society, gender roles, transgender, or any other label currently trending - you know, all the "isms" people are talking about these days.

All that said, how do I know that boys and girls biologically have gender inscribed in them? I see it. Every day. Henry has ZERO desire to play with the dolls. When we have play dates at little girls' homes, he's not interested in dollhouses. He wants to play with the balls. He'll seek out the puzzles. If I'm sitting on the floor, he'll come to me to wrestle. He's got energy to get out! While the little girls will sit quietly and play (like I used to do when I was little), Henry is loud(er) and moving and active. I haven't "raised" him to be this way; it's just who he is. He's at the age where he will fearlessly be who he is naturally, all society standards aside.

A photo posted by Paige AnUncomplicatedLifeBlog (@anuncomplicatedlifeblog) on


Meanwhile the little girls we play with love to nurture their dolls. They sit and stroke their hair. It's precious! And just as soon as your heart melts, they're over their dolls and everyone is playing a game of tag together, running around the house or the pool deck like a pack of wild animals. Not all girls like to sit still for long, especially in Henry's age group! But, the fact of the matter is girls have estrogen. Estrogen promotes that nurturing side in a female, all societal construction of gender be damned! It's in their blood. Just like boys have testosterone. They biologically want to move and wiggle and make noise. So much noise...

It's not that I have a "more masculine" boy than anyone else. In fact, I'd say he's far more gentle and sensitive than the other boys we play with. He's fascinated by me breast feeding and pumping for his younger brother. He dances to the beat of my pump and one time got a hold of some pump parts, held them to his nipples and said, "Baby! Baby!" as if he could feed the baby too. This is to say that just because you have a boy doesn't mean he'll be a wild and loud creature, just like if you have a girl, she'll be a doll-loving quiet lady. Each child is different with different amounts of hormone and different genes.

I'm not going so far as to say if you have a girl she will be a doll-loving nurturer and if you have a boy, he'll be a truck racing wild thing! It's not black and white like that. It's a spectrum. As a female myself, I like to be physically active and run around - I don't want to sit quietly all day. My point is that there IS a difference. And that difference is ok. We should all accept it, and maybe even embrace it. Why are we spending so much time de-gendering everything? Why do we suddenly feel this need to force everyone to be the same?  

I see gender differences everyday in the play and preferences of my children, and others children. Which is why I don't understand this call to "de-gender" everything. Let boys be boys and girls be girls. And if Henry wants to pretend breastfeed, that's precious! And if his lady friends want to come over and race cars with us, that's fantastic! But don't pretend like gender doesn't exist, or that we can just "do away" with it. That's excessive. And it's nonsense.

26 comments:

  1. YES! This. And I would argue some of these "gendered" behaviors can be there because of biology. Male and female animals have different behaviors depending on which they are as well. IT's not a BAD thing. I have sons who like dolls, sons who only want cars and trucks. My daughters are complete opposites-one is hands down a princess and the other builds houses with her youth group. The're all fine to do those things...but I'm also okay with having them fit into the "societal norm". I love this.

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  2. I totally agree. My daughter is two, and will play with her babies forever, quietly and motherly, while my son will participate sometimes, it's never to the extent of her play. I have no problem with my son playing dolls with her or pretending he's a prince to her princess, but he definitely plays differently. Loudly. Knocks things down and builds them up, way more than she does.

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  3. It's all about biology!
    I wish more people understood this. Honestly, I think the bigger issue is with expectations. You scoff at the thought of your little boy with a baby doll? You run and get your little girl when she goes and sits in the dirt? Get out of here with that ish! Let's have gender "specific" toys that all children are allowed to play with - regardless of sex and let's not make it a *thing*. As a little girl, I LOVED baby dolls. Baby dolls and Barbie dolls were my thing. I also had a BB gun and I shot squirrels in the back yard...

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  4. I feel like I need to send this to my sister! She's in college and very much thinks that gender is a social construction. However, like you, I see that my daughter sometimes just prefers things that are typically "girly," and there's nothing wrong with that! She also loves blocks, trains, playing outside, puzzles... so many things. She's allowed to have varied interests! If she likes playing with her dollhouse, cool. If she wants to play catch outside or watch the trains, that's cool too! I want her to do what makes her happy - and if it's pink, purple, blue, yellow.... I just don't care!

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  5. I totally agree with you! I have a 4 year boy and a two year old girl. They'll play with each others toys, but She is SO much a girl, and my boy is such a boy. Its hard to explain, but there IS a difference.

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  6. There's an obvious difference. People need to shut the f up and get over themselves and stop trying to push their agendas on everyone. I feel like it's all about peoples' insecurities. Just shut up and stop trying to make society believe what you believe or are insecure about. I liked dolls as a kid and I also rode dirt bikes. Nothing wrong with that. End of rant.

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  7. I think like many things, people have taken de-gendering a little too far, especially when you try to homogenize everything. I do think that genders have tendencies - in general, boys are more likely to play with trucks and girls are more likely to play with dolls. I agree with you, it's just the way it is in their nature. I think the far more dangerous thing is people who have expectations because of your gender. And the judgement. Growing up I had a male friend who wanted to play with Barbie dolls and took dance lessons instead of karate. And he was teased and bullied mercilessly for it, by other kids who were raised to believe boys should play with trucks and play sports. I think we need to foster more acceptance in this world in general, whether it's gender, race, orientation, or whatever.

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  8. Yes, yes, yes, yes! Thank you for writing this! I'm completely with you on this. While, I think there should always be acceptance of everyone, I don't think they should try to de-gender or take away anything else. I think that's a bit over the top. People in this culture nowadays are just offended by every little thing and it's honestly sad that it's like that.

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  9. Oh Henry! You are such a cutie! Great read!

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  10. I think people are just WAYYYYYYY too concerned with this. Seriously. Just let your kids play.

    I was SUCH a girly girl, but I hated dolls and LOVED cars. But you better believe I played fairy princess and had a tutu and loved it way more than sports.

    De-gendering is fine, too a point, encourage your kids to have all types of toys... but stereotypes exist for a reason too.

    They plan on degendering the Canadian National Anthem... from "in all they sons command" to "in all of us command"... seriously? My tax dollars pay for politicians to discuss this? sigh.

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  11. I totally agree! I am so sick of this gender talk! I hate seeing something about it everytime I open my facebook or watch something on the news. My boys are hard core boys, ye my middle son loves the color pink. I don't think that makes him transgender. Everything else he does makes me believe he is a boys boy. Great post girl, so glad you spoke up!

    www.writingmotherfashionista.com

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  12. i agree, even though i don't have kids. it's not black and white. i was a tomboy growing up and i would play with cars and wrestle with my brothers... and then play with my dolls. i did it all. my friend has a 3 year old boy and he loves trucks and balls and stuff, but he doesn't like to be rough or wrestle. his 1 year old brother is already trying to be a professional wrestler or something because he is always trying to knock his brother (and any adult) out, but he doesn't want to play with trucks, he likes dolls right now (he just holds and pets them). i don't care if your kid plays with guns, trucks, dolls or whatever. i don't care what colour they wear or anything like that. a boy playing with a doll is not a big deal, neither is a boy playing with a truck. let the damn boy play with whatever he wants. he's a kid, and just wants to play. he's not trying to make a statement or prove that he's not gay or something ridiculous. people are projecting their own insecurities and weirdness onto kids.

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  13. My son starting being a "boy" very young. He loved cars, truck, rough housings. This was the way he was. He is 7 and he thinks girls are pretty. He has been liking girls since he was 5! So I really think there are genetic factors between male and female.

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  14. Great reflections on a polorizing subject! It truely is a spectrum like you said! I don't mind the gender neutalizing of things if it can help the stigma that boys should like trucks not dolls, and girls should like dolls not sports. Kids play with everything. If the world can reflect what is already true, we all win.

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  15. I just dont understand why we have to take it away entirely. Cool if your boy likes girl things and vice versa, does that mean we have to wipe away genders? That's just so silly and makes shopping for specific gender items wayyyyy harder.

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  16. I feel your frustration and I'm over here feeling it too! I have a boy and girl and they like some of the same things (things that might be considered for a 'boy' or a 'girl') and there are other ways that they are totally different. We are biologically programmed to be a certain gender and I think it's just as much of a disservice to de-gender things as it is to push people into a specific box.

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  17. I think society went too far with boy-specific and girl-specific things but now it's going too far with non-gendered everything. Let's be ok with masculine boys and feminine girls but also be ok if the kids aren't that way. My 18 months old is totally rough and tumble AND loves holding baby dolls and giving them kisses and all of that is good! <3

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  18. Couldn't agree more with you on this! Society needs to chill out with some of this stuff!

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  19. Great post! I think society is taking it to personally with the transgender push. I actually did some research on gender and toys in my sociology classes in college. Yes society does add fluff to some of the toys and makes them verygirly or masculine, but it was a common finding that it was natural for boys to be attracted to toys that were more hands on and girls were more attracted to toys like dolls that had the nurturing aspect.

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  20. This is SO wonderful and I agree 100%. I'm about to be a first time mama - and the degendering of everything is really getting on my nerves. With a large family, I too, see the natural way girls nurture dolls and the way boys want to be boys. Yes, give them options to be whoever, and play with whatever they want, but to take that away, or force something unnatural on them is unhealthy in my opinion.

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  21. Dear God, yes! I was just telling my husband today how my 2 year old little one wants to play with his dollhouse as a race car track. I say HIS dollhouse because it's too baby-ish for his big sisters. I had it out to get rid of but noticed he loved to play with it. He'd put the baby in the cradle and it was so cute so I hung onto it solely for my boy. But lately he wants to drive cars up and down it. They are cars passed down from my girls so they had the same opportunity to drive them up and down the roof of the house but they NEVER did. As he was playing with it I was cleaning the play room so I attempted to put the little doll furniture back in the dollhouse. Only I didn't get very far because Dax (my son) was throwing them out as fast as I could get them in. It was so funny but reinforced what I already know- boys ARE different than girls. DUH. and the fact that we need anecdotes as "proof," is just plain ridiculouse!

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  22. It's so funny isn't it how you don't realise these things until you have children. I too thought it was all just how you raised them but I have a 4 year old girl and an 18 month old boy who love to do boy-things and girl-things. With my son being younger though, I have noticed that he's going through a lot of the same things as Annie did. The cuddling baby doll stage, pushing prams, playing with handbags, etc. But he also loves to destroy things a lot more than she ever did, he loves pulling things apart, throwing them it's really how he loves to play (even if I don't like it!) he also is a lot rougher than she ever was though I don't know if that's from him being the second child and so he's not been molly-coddled as much as our eldest!

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  23. Someone definitely needed to write a post like this and I believe you hit the nail straight on the head! I don't even have children, but I know exactly what you are talking about with this. I am a girl, and I love getting my hands dirty and learning how things work, but I still have the nurturing side. I always want to help take care of others. Again, this was an amazing post.

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  24. "De-gendering" everything isn't about forcing everyone to be the same. What it's about is allowing each person/child to express themselves however they want. It's about letting boys play with dolls if they want. It's also about letting them play with toy cars if they want. It's about not forcing traditional gender stereotypes on them. Even though you wrote this article condemning freedom from gender stereotypes, you embrace it in the details (You say that there are dolls to play with if your son chooses to). I would encourage all parents to expose all of their children to gender-neutral toys/lessons because many boys will grow up to be fathers who should nurture their own babies and most women will grow up and need to understand how to maintain the vehicles they own and drive. Also, please read up on your biology facts: all women have testosterone and all men have estrogen.

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  25. Now this is a very good issue. This is one of those that will put you in hot water when you let out opinions other people don't agree. De-gendering is a good idea, somehow there's a boundary when it comes to your children. Until they haven't yet identified themselves (girls/boys) its the parent's role to help them get to it. Until the'y're old enough then that is when you start teaching them the next step. You have raised a very good topic here and hopefully more will get involved in this page. Best regards from grabmyessay reviews and hope to read more engaging topic on my next visit. Cheers!

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  26. Read the book, "Parenting Beyond Pink & Blue: How to Raise Your Kids Beyond Gender Stereotypes" by Christia Spears-Brown. She does gender analysis and is a parent. There is far more scientific evidence proving the contrary of what you personally believe than what you have perceived from the teeny tiny (entirely biased) focus group of your own babies. Also, may I point out that my brothers as toddlers and young children sat still quietly, nurtured their dolls & teddies, played with doll's houses, played tea party, and dressed up in pink fairy princess costumes? Yep, my four heterosexual brothers did these things as children. They also (like me, a heterosexual girl) enjoyed wrestling, playing in the mud, climbing trees, building with trains and blocks, and sword fighting with wooden swords.

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