Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Quick, Anecdotal Social thoughts: Gender roles

I realized when I wanted to write this post how much the purpose of this blog has changed some in the last few months. Because, if you recall, I originally started this as kind of a snarky joke, to share my wellspring of BS with an easily amused audience, but it was in practically no time that this turned into whatever Rachel feels like today, which is sometimes me thinking I'm clever and funny, and sometimes it's not.

Anyways! The reason I thought about this was because something that happened this morning started turning into reflection and the desire to throw my personal views out into the void.

As I've mentioned several times, during the school year, I babysit on Tuesday mornings, and this year, we have a much wider age range and a larger group of kids. The oldest ones are around six years old, and the youngest aren't quite a year old. This morning, the older girls (there are three of them) were all hanging out in the corner of the room monopolizing most of the plastic food and baby dolls, presumably playing at that most horrifying childhood game "house."

I may need to take a moment here to interrupt myself and rail against the horror that inspires in me...There's part of a stand-up routine I watched that the guy is talking about the heinous unfairness to little boys and girls, because when a boy is small, what do we get him? Trucks and guns and Legos and such, but what do you get for a little girl? Another kid, of course! He says something like, "Hey, little baby, here's your baby!" and then adopts this horrified and disappointed face and responds, "But I just got here..." Maybe this a the benefit of hindsight, but why on earth would children want to play at the mundane? There is sadly few thrilling things about keeping a house, being poor, having children, or cooking dinner. I know I played some aspects of that as a wee child, but I'm pretty sure I was usually also building shelter on a desert island, or fleeing Bad Guys, or embarking on a quest...

And now that I've thoroughly derailed both of us, dear audience, I shall continue me story!

One of my unashamed favorite children in the nursery, a little boy named Daniel, a little two-year-old, chubby, ginger kid,  comes over and picks up a little plastic "milk" bottle and this hideous, plastic, Cabbage Patch-esque monstrosity, and promptly pretends to feed it, cuddle it a bit, and place it clumsily in the toy crib with a blanket. And these little girls look at him like he's utterly mad--but, of course, he's only a baby, so he can't be expected to understand that these are girls' toys. They keep giving me side-long glances, as if waiting for me to do my grown-up duty and gently pull Daniel away, informing him sternly that these are for girls, and little boys don't play with baby dolls.

I find that both amusing and infuriating. I came across the same thing in a family I used to babysit for. The youngest girl was ridiculing her little brother, because he wanted the three of us to play the Angelina Ballerina game, and she claimed that was a girl game, because it contained pastel colors, primarily pink, and was about ballet. I gently explained to her that ballet was also for boys, and they're hardcore, and that if she, a girl, could like "boy" things, like green and Legos and guns, it was ok for boys to like "girl" things too.

This might simply be because I know many happily metrosexual men, but I don't understand this double standard in rigid gender roles. You would think that in a country that has experienced not one, but three major feminist movements, we would understand that gender equality is not just about one sex. If women demand to be freed from centuries of social tradition, how can they refuse to extend the same right to their male counterparts? There's this absurd stereotype that men fulfilling traditionally female roles, like stay-at-home dads, or nurses, or stylists, or whatever receive ridicule and criticism for not fulfilling their "role as men." When a woman enters a field that is primarily populated by men, she is either congratulated as a pioneer, or laughed at for being crazy, but when men do the same thing, they pretty much just get their sexual preferences questioned.


How does that make any sense, boys and girls?

Anyway, I think that's about enough from me for tonight. It was just something on my mind that I thought I would share with the silent void.

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