The feminization of boys in search for gender equality

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Registered: 03-12-2007
The feminization of boys in search for gender equality
7
Thu, 11-17-2011 - 1:44pm

I have seen quite a few articles about the feminization of boys that has allegedly occured in our society over the past generation or so. I've seen articles on what "real men" would do/wouldn't do as compared to 'metro' men (it was a satire about manscaping etc, but the author of the book was serious) and I've seen articles about European countries where there is such a push for gender equity that all children are to be socialized the same. They even refused to use the pronouns 'he' and 'she' in this daycare/school that the article was about. What do you ladies think? Do you believe that we have overfeminized boys in our culture of the modern day?

I find this an interesting topic of discussion. I am more than happy that as a woman I have the right to choose things for myself. I am happy that the women's lib. movement occured. However, I do think it had unforseen consequences. Now it isn't considered the thing to do to stay home and raise your kids and our society makes it nearly unaffordable regardless. A dual income household is what we are built on now. I'm also happy to teach my son some skills that I know, like sewing, when he gets larger. However, am I going to encourage him to play with barbies? No, probably not. He wants a Barbie camper (my parents have a camper and he thinks it is awesome) but I won't buy it for him I think because it's just a little too much in my mind. I know he doesn't see it as a girls' toy or anything, but I personally can't bring myself to buy it for him knowing that it's a Barbie toy. I don't know. My husband is very much a man's man and I always found that attractive. For me I try to raise my boys to be open to different things and people but I think there are differences in the sexes. I think to nurture against those differences is odd.

For example, we had some little girls over to play a few months ago. Daley naturally wanted to play pirates or cars and the girls just looked at him like he was crazy. They wanted to play dolls or teacher. They ended up making Daley be a student, and then a dog in a dog pound lol :) It just illustrated how different the two sexes can be. They have different imaginations and inclinations, I think. Anyway, I know that rambled but I'm interested to see what you all have to say.

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Registered: 03-21-2005
Your welcome - I love it too! I love that something thought of more as a 'girl' toy can be presented so neutrally that both genders can play and role play if they'd like without feeling like they are being segregated for whatever reason. I do think it's important that both boys and girls learn [even if through play at early ages] what are typically gender specific roles. They get so much shoved in their face by the media and some peers about what is acceptable for their gender. Not all girls are princesses and not all boys are rough and tough. They all shine in their own ways. And I'm one to believe that nature plays as much or more of a role than nurture but I like to blend them both and give my kids choices about who they are and how they want to be instead of putting them into molds. [not saying anyone here is, just sharing my own thoughts]
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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-12-2007
Thanks for the link! I love that!

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-21-2005
Bess, we share the exact same viewpoint. I also teach my kids that there are no 'boy colors' or 'girl colors'. They're all just colors and you like what you like. period.

Julianne - look here: http://www.fatbraintoys.com/toy_companies/melissa_doug/furnished_dollhouse.cfm

Fatbraintoys.com is AWESOME!! Lots of solid toys without popular themes or made cheaply. I like them simple and wooden and educational but fun. I like quality and I find it there.
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Avatar for chriscanuck
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Registered: 05-14-2003
I completely agree with what Bess wrote.

Having children of both genders I have no problem with what the kids play with. Yesterday my 4 year old was playing with Barbies. No big deal.

I do think gender is an important part of life though and to try to neutralize everything is unrealistic. I think men and women should have equal rights and opportunities but that doesn't mean they are the same. I think there are a lot of basic differences between men and women and that is okay.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-12-2007
Bess and Tanya: I completely agree with you guys. Daley and Ean also have a kitchen and love playing in it! I remember a friend and her husband came to our house once when Daley was smaller, and the husband commented to me about how he'd never get his son a kitchen to play with. I thought that was an odd thing to do, particularly directly to my face, but I've never cared. Daley and Ean both love to vacuum. I've never had a problem with them having things like that either. I also would love for my daughter to be to have an affinity for tools and woodwork. I love 'doing it myself' and have often made use of the tools in the garage.

I think in particular with the Barbie thing my son wants, I am torn because we as of yet do not have a daughter. I would have no issue with him playing with her toys or vice versa but I'm not sure how I feel about going out and buying this specific toy for him. I'm still thinking on it. I know another thing he wants is a doll house. My MIL has one that she made and then turned into a haunted house as a Halloween decoration. He loves to play with it and put the bats and spiders all over the furniture and such. I just can't find a dollhouse that isn't ultra girly. I have my old one which I am thinking about bringing from my parents' house to let him play with.

I think when they're so small they have limited conscious concept of gender 'roles'. Daley sometimes likes to be the princess on the Wii when he plays a game, but he just as often likes to be Darth Vader. Did either one of you see the article in the news some months ago about a mother who let her son go to pre-school for Halloween dressed as Daphne from Scooby Doo?
http://goodmenproject.com/good-feed-blog/my-son-is-gay-or-hes-not-i-dont-care/
There is the link.
I wasn't sure what to think about this. On the one hand I see nothing wrong with a little boy of that age thinking he would like to be Daphne for Halloween. Does that mean I would necessarily encourage him to do so, particularly to a school function? No. I would probably steer him towards another way to express himself in a way that was just as fun for him but a bit more appropriate. I think the mom here was wrong to put this out there so publicly as a potential 'gay' thing. I don't think there is anything unusual about her son's desire, but now his name and face are on the web with her proclaiming he might be gay. Nothing wrong with that, but if he isn't that could be hard for him when he is older.

Anyway, all very interesting food for thought isn't it?

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Registered: 01-12-2008

Marcel playes with his sisters kitchen and dolls. I am fine with that. He needs those skills to be a daddy. Noelle also playes with cars and dinosaurs. I don't dress Marcel in pink or put Noelle in suits. I guess I am in the middle. I think boys should be boys and girls should be girls but toys are toys. I also watch my kids play and they play with the same toy differently. Marcel likes his big sis to feed him and kisses the dolls then throws them. Noelle enjoys cooking and taking care of the babies. I did nothing to make them like that that is just how they are.

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Registered: 09-13-2010

Im kinda in the middle. I'm for letting your child play with the things they are naturally drawn to and such. I have no problem with boys playing with stereotypically "girl toys" or my girls playing with their tool set (which my older DD *lovessss*). example, like a play kitchen set is usually found in with dolls and in the girl section but I really feel a kitchen is gender neutral. Same goes for play cleaning toys like vacuums and brooms. These are life skills that I dont think should apply to one gender or another but be shared by both genders. I want both my girls and my boys comfortable around a tool chest ANd a kitchen. yah know? On the flip side, I'm not into forcing kids into playing with a toy they arent comfortable playing. If I have a son and he doesnt want to join in with playing barbies, that's fine with me. But if he *does* want to play bc he see's his sisters doing it and wants to be involved, I'm not going to throw any fits. I think toy play should be all gender neutral overall.

Im not a fan of that mom, though, who wouldnt tell anyone her youngest baby's gender and refused to give any hint to gender bc she didnt like genderizing kids. I'm for equal opportunity among both genders and am fairly openminded but i still acknowledge that there is such a thing as gender and to refuse to say fi your baby is a boy or a girl when they 8 months old is crazy to me.

-Bess--- mom to Eve and Ariel
http://mommakesmilk.com