Why Don’t Feminists Have Gender-Neutral Kids?
After all, they tried raising their sons and daughters the same way, yet their girls still liked frilly pink dresses and their boys still played with guns.
But do they raise boys and girls the same?
Ideas affect behavior
Sociologist, Emily Kane, asked parents of preschoolers why they thought their kids behaved in sex-typed ways.
About one-third thought biology explained it.
Yet here’s what the parents said when she asked if they had wanted a girl or a boy, and why:
Why did you want a son?
- Dad (who usually wanted sons): teach him to play sports
- Mom: so hubby will have a companion to play sports with
Why did you want a daughter?
- Mom: dress her up, buy her dolls, give her dance classes, emotional intimacy
If you have these kinds of ideas about boys and girls, would you really treat them the same?
Boys seem stronger, girls seem sweeter
Or, when moms talked about what their babies were like in the last three months of pregnancy, everyone said “active.” But mothers of boys thought they were more active. And moms who didn’t know their child’s sex didn’t detect a difference:
What was your baby like in the 3 months before birth?
- Boy: Vigorous, strong
- Girl: Active but not violent; Active but not terribly active
- Sex unknown: no pattern
Even feminists find boys stronger and girls sweeter
Kara Smith had a background in women’s studies. So she was surprised that how she perceived her baby changed when ultrasound revealed he was a boy:
- He suddenly seemed stronger than he had the minute before I learned the sex
- My light, fluffy language (“Little one”) disappeared
- My voice lowered, and lost its tenderness
I can relate. I haven’t given birth, but I have raised kittens. (Ha, ha, I know…)
One of my neighbors caught some kittens that were in her yard, and I adopted two of them. I named the boy Felix and the girl Lexy.
Weeks later I found out that Felix was a girl and Lexy was a boy.
Suddenly, Felix seemed sweeter and softer. And Lexy seemed less sweet and less elegant — but only slightly so (he exuded both sweetness and elegance).
And then there was my two-year-old nephew, who I once bopped on the head with a soft beachball — before realizing that I wouldn’t have done it if he had been my little niece.
Neither Kara nor I see ourselves as sexist. And yet there we were, finding ourselves being so.
Proud of boys, delighted by daughters
Meanwhile, birth announcements in Canadian newspapers show a pattern: Parents are “proud” of their boys — who appear to enhance family status.
But they are “delighted” by their “lovely” daughters — who seem to evoke warm, fuzzy feelings of emotional intimacy and greater happiness.
Do parents raise their kids gender-neutrally?
Now add an environment that is far from gender-neutral, with children who tease boys and girls who don’t conform, and television that portrays girls one and boys another… and much more. Then mix. More on that later…
Source: Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine.
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