Children and Gender

April 10, 2011 at 3:16 am (babies, nanny) (, )

Long time no see, you say? Well, balderdash say I! Anyhow, I’ve been sent two very interesting articles that sit at the intersection of my quadrants of interest- the junction of babies and queers-

The first is about a boy who likes pink-it’s an article written by his mother defending her support of her son’s non-normative gender expression. She very eloquently and humorously describes how people try and tell her how to parent and exposes the contradictory stance Dr. Phil takes on the issue- he says being gay isn’t a choice and then encourages parents to enforce gender norms to prevent being gay later? Huh? I remember when my brother was little, he had some very feminine( think putting on make-up with mommy in the mornings) moments and some very masculine ones ( I will never forget his instinctual interest in guns as a toddler in ToysR’Us). At one point his favorite color was pink (until it changed to Orange), so I am aware from personal experience that gender expression in children, without imposition from adults in their lives is very fluid, changes day by day a lot of the time. My brother ended up as a Rugby-playing Frat Boy despite having tried wearing a skirt to kindergarten. So Dr. Phil can chill out- but you should read this article, right?

The second article, also about children and gender, concerns a controversial single sex pre-school, opened near Santa Cruz recently, called the Pink Academy. “It’s pink, it’s girly,and it’s all about them”- was their tagline. Purposefully all-girl, it was advertised as a place that would emphasize math and science as well as all things pink, and create an environment where girls excel. Well, bless that poor misguided mother who came up with that idea- likely bolstered by studies of older children that say single sex education benefits girls- because most have not taken kindly to the subject. It seems, and I don’t disagree, that the pre-school years are not where fully formed expressions of gender occur and that most experts encourage more co-ed interaction during these years not less. The last thing we want to do with pre-schoolers in general is try and limit their expression to appropriately gendered displays (you hear that Dr Phil?). That being said- I know that I, who used to collect paper dolls, porcelain dolls and fairy figurines ( show me a doll I don’t like) would have felt quite at home at the Pink Academy. So if those uptight people would let their boys embrace pink, I say open the doors to all and let the Pink party begin!
Check out the Slate article in the subject here.

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