Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Girls and Boys

Lately I've found myself preparing for the mind shift of having a boy soon.

DH takes the girls to Lowe's and Home Depot on most Saturday mornings for their build and grow workshops. He couldn't go last weekend, so I took them instead. S can do a lot of the building herself now. The directions are pictograms and she handles the hammer well on her own, so I spent most of my time helping Baby R. S was struggling a bit with some of it, so I finished Baby R's plane and then turned my attention to S. While working with S, Baby R was playing with her plane - flying it around, landing it, rolling it along the ground, then zooming it back up into the air.

And then...

She put it on the ground, stepped back, then scooped it up in her arms and brought it to me.

"Mama," she cooed. "Look! I found a baby plane! Can we take it home with us? Can I name it Pocahontas?"

I told her of course she could, and she cradled it in her arms all the way to the van.

I imagined the same scenario with Cinco in a few years. It's possible he could have a nurturing approach to the plane, but it seems that a boy's first inclination is to zoom it back up in the air.

And then...

Hurtle it down to the ground for a crash landing.

It will be an interesting scientific experiment when the time comes. I don't mean that in a sexist way to say that girls are always nurturers and boys are always destructive. But having seen small children play differently with the same toys leads me to believe that some of their play style is innately different. I'm intrigued to find out the results of this experiment in a few years.

I also find myself considering the implications of the male side of stereotypes and sexism like in this week's drama over Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke's performance on MTV's video music awards. My first reaction was to Miley's role only. I've worked so hard to minimize the princess influence and promote modesty and appropriateness with the girls. Luckily they're too young to know much about what happened, though I'm sure S probably has heard something about it at school. But then I realized that I need to start thinking about how to talk to Cinco about his role as a man and how Robin Thicke was equally at fault in the performance.

A blog I follow, Pigtail Pals and Ballcap Buddies, had the following comments in her post about it.

Here is what I asked of my facebook community, and you can see the discussions play out here and here.
1. Give examples of how we deconstruct this kind of media and its messages to our kids.
2. How we differentiate sexual expression vs putting raunch on display for ratings.
3. How you explain to kids why they might hear Miley taking so much heat but not Robin.
4. How you explain the difference between critiquing media and critiquing a person to your child.
Nearly everyone is focused on Miley and girls. Well, what about Robin and boys? Let’s look at this….
- How would you talk to your tween/teen BOYS about older men using younger girls like sex objects and male performers being surrounded by barely-dressed female backup dancers?
- How would your boys answer: When so many of the female performers are so scantily clad, is that self expression of sexuality or the symptom of something larger? Why were none of the men nearly naked?
- How would your boys answer: How do you feel the representations of women last night affect your female friends and family members?
- How would your boys answer: What expectations does our family have around how you will treat girls and women? Did what you see or heard about from the VMA’s live up to that or fall short?

I think these are good points to keep in mind.
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