A friend of mine, Julia, started a new blog, We Are Skeptixx (I have one post there). This week, the blog had its most visitors ever, regarding this entry, about a video of a little girl ranting about the color pink in the toy aisle. As you can see, there is a LOT OF ARGUMENT, on the blog entry itself, at Pharyngula, and at Skepchick. If you have time for a crazy-making internet wormhole about gender-norming, then dive right in! It's actually really good reading, but it made me very angry.

If you can't guess, I am on the side of people who are yelling, "HOW CAN YOU NOT GET THAT MARKETING PLAYS A ROLE IN SOCIETY'S ATTITUDES ABOUT GENDER?!?"

I had just about completely stepped back from the issue (for now) when I read this entry, linked from Feministing. Julia linked to the entry on We Are Skeptixx today, and this is the comment I left:

"The father’s attitude might amaze some, but just from what I’ve read in comments on here, on SkepChick, and pretty much all over the web lately, this kind of thing happens a lot, from playgrounds on up. I myself have stood up for my nephews when their fathers (in their 30s and 40s) have expressed contempt or have mocked the boys for anything that the boys like that is “meant for girls.” No violence, not even the threat of it, thankfully.

I know that anecdotes aren’t evidence, exactly, but considering that I have 4 nephews, with 3 fathers among them, 2 of whom have had bad attitudes about their sons liking “girly” things – this leads me to believe that these attitudes might be pretty pervasive. Please note that I am coming from more of a feminism/social justice angle, less of a straight-up science angle.

I’m not saying, nor would I ever say, that marketing is the sole reason for these sorts of gender-norming attitudes, but they are part of it. These attitudes aren’t created in a vacuum. 

I love that there are people (including the older brother, who had to go home with this guy) who are willing to stand up for those who don’t want to be put into strict gender categories. And I love people like the younger brother, who stands up for what he wants, even while crying. And my oldest nephew, who once said, 'Yeah, I want a tea set. So what?'"

...Had I wanted to, I could have added many more examples of my nephews being awesome in this regard. "Yes, I like jasmine green tea, because it's good!" "I wear pink all the time!" "I like to be Zoey on Left 4 Dead. She's strong." (They also like the others, which is good - when we play it together, I get to be Zoey!)

My nephews can say dismaying things sometimes about girls and things "meant" for girls, but for the most part, I think they're headed in a good direction. And as for my younger nieces and nephew, I like to try to be the aunt who gives them something that isn't super gender-identified. I mean, sometimes you gotta buy a Rapunzel Barbie, but otherwise, I try to think outside the box.

It's heartening that other people are thinking outside the box about gender too. Today Julia led me to this blog post, about a teacher who is trying to prevent gender bullying in the classroom. Magnificent.


Julia said…
"I like to be Zoey on Left 4 Dead. She's strong."

That's adorable no matter who said it, but in my mind's eye it is Owen being freaking PRECIOUS!

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