Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Counter to the Feminist Movement

So as the mother of an almost 4 year old boy, I was thinking the other day about why it is that there hasn't been a counter movement for boys to the feminist movement. My mother's generation, and even generations before hers fought hard for equality for women. So now-a-days, it is quite common that girls can wear the same clothes that boys do, play with the same toys, and do the same activities without a second thought. Hell, I rarely wear dresses.

So what about boys? You still never see a little boy dressed in pink or purple. Boys get funny looks if they want to push a stroller around the neighborhood. And all that princess stuff for girls? Nope. At least they can play with the Cars character stuff. Hey, my guy likes the Disney princesses too! But you won't catch us having a Disney princess theme for his 4th birthday (luckily I don't think it will be an issue.) And as open minded as his Dad is, he still raised his eyebrows at the "lipstick" (chapstick) Jaxon got in his stocking from Santa. Hey, at least one of the three varieties was green (kiwi) even if the other two were pink and purple. Jaxon loves all three and was excited to have his own "lipstick."

For the most part, it's not a big deal. Jaxon and his cousin Maddy are just a few months apart and although my sister and I have never directed their play, it always amazes us how naturally they gravitate toward traditionally gender based play. They both love to "cook" in their "kitchens" and vacuum, and they equally like painting and play-doh and puzzels and games, and Thomas wooden trains but where Maddy loves playing with her dolls, Jaxon could care less about dressing a doll or putting it to bed. And Maddy has little interest in digging, or playing with cars or scooper trucks where Jaxon could play with his trucks in the dirt all day.

But I continue to wonder at the fact that little girls can do anything, play with anything, where for little boys, many things are still discouraged. So what do you think? With there ever be a counter feminist movement for boys? And if so, what would we call it?


Leslie said...

I don't know if we'll ever see something like that. It's interesting, though.

The last time our playgroup was at my house, the kids were playing dress up. The boys dressed up as princesses just like the girls! They had a blast. One of the mothers, however, wasn't too pleased with how much fun her son was having. Eventually, she told him that the dress up stuff was for girls.

Kelly said...

As the mother of a 14-month-old boy, I agree wholeheartedly. I want my son to play with whatever strikes his fancy, and I love the fact that he is equally comfortable at this young age with playing with dolls in a dollhouse as he is pushing trucks all over the house. My husband is not so fond of this delicate balance.

I'm glad our girls have so many opportunities and so much freedom now, but I, too, would like to see the same freedom extended to our boys. As for a name for this movement, I have no idea.

Thanks for the post!

Gunfighter said...

I hope that we never see such a movement.

The only problem that I see with gender equality is the attempt to erase the lines between genders... I don't mean in terms of treatment of people... I mean the things that make us uniquely male or female.

Amy Barry said...

Gunfighter - I definitely do NOT mean to erase the lines. I think we have seen if anything, a counter to that happening with my generation swinging the balance back. More SAHM's, but this time by choice, girls being girly girl princesses one day and playing soccer like champs the next. I just want the same open opportunities for my son. I just cringe when he gets frowned on if he wants to play princesses too. If little girls can play with superheros and trucks and the like, why can't a boy be interested in princesses? He still definitely prefers his cars and trucks, and digging in the dirt, but I am certainly not going to try to explain to him at 4 why he can't play with princesses. I wouldn't tell a little girl she couldn't play with something because she is a girl.

As I said in my post, my sister and I have observed first hand the natural gender play tendencies that seem to be genetic. I am all for encouraging boys to be boys and girls to be girls and celebrating the differences. I just hate to see that while girls seem to have all doors wide open to them, boys still have a good many doors that remain closed.

Gunfighter, you must get that at least sometimes (you do wear kilts, make rosaries, and cook after all!) but you also have the exterior manly man persona to counter it. I just feel bad for boys getting weird looks or being questioned when they want to do things that are traditionally not associated with the male gender.

That being said, I am not likely to go out and buy Jaxon a barbie or princess doll, but if he wants to play barbies with his cousin at her house? Sure, why not?