Monday, September 23, 2013

Where is the happy medium?

If you're someone who has read my gender rants before, you might remember how we're pretty much anti-princess-ness.  We feel very strongly about how morally approach parenting two girls.  One of our big no-no-'aint-gonna-happens is us purposefully choosing princessy/overtly sexualized toys for our girls, basically anything that degrades females or presents females in such a way as to be weakened by that activity.  (I know that I've kindly discussed my thoughts about girls' clothing as well.  However, for today, we're just talking toys.)  Let's not misconstrue what I'm saying, though, and paint my words with too broad a brush.  Dress-up can be very feminized and princessy.  Are we against dress-up?  Oh goodness, no.  While dress up in Disney princess garb isn't so much for our kids, dress-up in extra bits of clothing, hats, scarves, and shoes most definitely is. 

I've been dwelling a bit lately on how we have crafted our kids' exposure to toys.  You know mamas...always something to worry about, right?  For once, however, I'm not worrying so much as just considering what's at stake here and what is going on.  Our toys are decidedly gender-neutral in general.  However, if they tend towards either end of the continuum, they swing more masculine.  And I'm wondering, have we made such the effort to not princess the heck out of our girls that we've left them with very little that is categorized as feminine?  There are a couple of baby dolls hanging around, sure, as well as a play kitchen and an odd Dora the Explorer purse/bag thing.  But of those 5 items, we only purchased one of them: 1 baby doll complete with a couple of diaper bag play things.  We're not going out of our way to feminize the girls, and this is evident in how they play inside and out. 

There's a little bit of pink, but our general rule of thumb is gender-neutral when given a choice with toys because specifically gendered toys are so overt that it becomes mostly off-putting for us.  Our oldest daughter doesn't wear skirts by choice and her favorite color is blue.  Granted, these choices can be relevant to any number of reasons (she does wear dresses), and her blue preference is a bright, aqua color. 

I don't it a big deal?  Are our girls exposed to a fair treatment of socially understood feminine perceptions?  Doesn't "gender neutral" still favor masculine norms?  It's the whole nature v. nurture thing that I'm chewing on a bit here.  I obviously need to go back to school and surround myself with all of the good things that community learning has to offer again.  Where is Psych 101: Gender and Social Norms when you need it? 

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