Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Contemplations :: Gender Stereotypes and Kidlets

Yesterday, in effort to help a friend find some winter boots, Avi and I hung out in the shoe department of a consignment store for about 15 minutes. He began by stuffing his cars into the shoes – a beloved pastime at home. I love when I’m getting ready to leave the house and find his loving gestures unexpectedly meeting my feet. It wasn’t long before he grabbed a pair of black, sparkly high heels and brought them to me, “Take off my shoes, Ema”.


Before long, he was walking in these high heels proudly through the store. Finding himself in the mirror and having a private conversation. “Do you like these?” he asked. “Yes, I do,” said his reflection.

My heart melted a little as I watched him walk effortlessly in these shoes. That’s my son. I love that my boy was drawn to a pair of shoes that I would never in my life, not even for a costume, wear. 

But quickly I thought of our society and of older generations that question this behavior. The time my mom said, “Don’t you mean, handsome” when I called my newborn son beautiful. The judgment of others that my son has a stroller (a gift from my mom – good job mom) and a baby doll or sews buttons or loves his ironing board. The exaggerated apologies when people are corrected that my long-haired beauty isn’t a “she” (Note: I rarely correct).  Or that we encourage the whole spectrum of feelings.

I know many parents are raising their boys with dolls and girls with trucks these days, but because I’m queer… and our son has a two mama family… I think there is an unfounded fear that if we don’t raise our son to be “manly” (whatever the F*** that means) that he will be gay. (gasp). 

I do many things to challenge gender stereotypes.  I change gender of some of the diggers and excavators and bulldozers in his books. (Why do diggers all have to be male anyway?) I change the words of dated books, firemen become firefighters, mailmen are mail carriers, etc. In the telling of the Three Little Pigs, our woodcutter who gives the pig sticks is a women, so is the farmer who gives the pig straw and the mason who shares her bricks.

Gandhi said, Be the change you wish to see in the world. In raising my son to know that a women can be a wood chopper and cry when he is hurt or sad and push his dolls in the stroller and sew buttons on fabric, I do so because I want him to grow into a man who is respectful to women, can express his emotions, and be loving to his own children and a jack and jill of all trades. This is the change I want to see in the world. 

And if I someday I am blessed to have a daughter, I will do the same, so that she grows to know she can be as strong as a bulldozer and express her feelings and know how to build something amazing with her tools.


  1. I think you are doing a wonderful job mama! I I think about the gender issue all the time. When my oldest daughter was born I didn't have any pink or sparkles I dressed her in more or less neutral clothing. We didn't really have dolls or girly books. Then she turned 2 and suddenly she loved pink everything pink. She turned three and then ballet and sparkles and dancing all of her own accord.

    The fact that he can walk in those heels is amazing. I can't even do that. They do grow into their own people don't they?!

  2. Wonderful! I was born and raised in the south so you can imagine the stereo types I've dealt with. My dad was probably one of the biggest chauvinists you would ever meet....until he had daughters. He and my mother raised us in a home of "you can do or be anything you want as long as you work hard." We went camping, rode mini bikes, learned to use guns, climb trees, etc....all the things that my male cousins did. I also took piano and dance lessons. I think they did a wonderful job of giving me a well rounded upbringing and they NEVER said that an activity was gender specific. I've tried to do the same with my boys.

  3. challenging those stereo types can be hard, but it is so worth it. all of my sons have had pink shoes at one time or another because pink is an awesome color. they all have baby dolls because i think it is a good idea for men to be able to care for their children. and one of my sons has hair to the middle of his back. it is so crazy how something can only be for one sex or another. why is caring for people only a "girls job" and construction only a "boys job"?

  4. You go mama, and I am right there with you :) Great post!

  5. You all are amazing. This subject can get me fired up like no other and I'm glad to see you all guiding your son through life in such a positive way.

  6. I love what you are doing and how you are raising Avi. When my son was Avi's age his favorite thing to do was wear his older sisters' dress shoes. He likes to have his nails painted when the girls are painting theirs. He plays dolls with them. And the girls play with his trucks and trains, dig in the dirt, etc. My husband is a nurse, usually seen as a women's job. Hopefully our kids will learn that gender doesn't determine anything other than your anatomy.

    I believe Avi's future partner, friends, and the world, with be so very thankful to you and your wife for raising such a wonderful son.

  7. "yes i do"
    love that little bird!
    (did you know your captcha is back?)


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