Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Fighting Bias - Positive Parenting

The Monkey walked up to me the other morning and asked me if I would watch a movie with him.  "Sure," I replied.  "Do you want to watch Brave?  Or Mommy wouldn't mind watching Tangled."

"No, Mommy.  Those are girl movies.  I'm a boy."

It took me a moment to respond, as I was surprised by this reaction.  "Sweetie, you can watch whatever you want.  You liked Brave, we watched it in the movie theater with the Princess, remember?"

"No.  I'm a boy.  I want to watch a boy movie."


A few weeks ago the Libertine tweeted about the Mister telling the Monkey that My Little Pony was for girls, and he was a boy so he shouldn't watch it.  I wasn't there for the exchange, so I didn't get involved in it.  But now the Monkey is limiting what he watches based on an abstract that an adult set for him.  An adult who would not only encourage a daughter to watch "boy" shows, but whose mother and uncle are both stereotypical homosexuals - she being a season ticket holder to multiple sports teams and he being the kind of gay man you totally want to take shopping.

Before you get indignant about that last bit, understand that I believe that people are born gay/straight/queer/whatever.  I don't think liking sports will make a woman a lesbian, or that appreciating fashion will make a man gay.  The Mister, having homosexual family members, would be the first one to tell you that his mother has always been a lesbian.  But that's another story.

I don't know why the Mister has been feeding the kiddo this bullshit.  The Monkey is your typical 5 year old boy - Transformers, superheroes, anything with wheels.  But watching TV with the Princess has introduced us to things like My Little Pony, Ruby Gloom, and Lalaloopsy.  The Monkey enjoys watching these shows with her, and she enjoys watching "boy" shows with him.

I do know that the Mister and I are about to sit down and have a very serious conversation about gender bias and its effect on how kids behave.  I don't want my sons to have disdain for "girly" activities.  I want them to respect girls for who they are and what they are interested in.  I want them to respect other boys the same way.  Basically, I want them to be good people - to see each person for who and what they are, not for what their label is.

So much behavior that sex-positive people fight against is rooted in gender bias.  Women who sleep around are sluts, men who sleep around are players.  Young girls and women who like sports or other 'boy' activities (gamers, I'm looking at you) are regaled as amazing, hot, and desirable.  Young boys and men who like fashion or other 'girl' activities are ridiculed as weak, unwanted, unworthy.

We are, as a culture, carrying around stereotypes that were created generations ago by people afraid of letting the minorities have a voice.  We are finally on the brink of getting marriage equality as a nation, and that is a stepping stone to getting other alternative lifestyles recognized as legitimate as long as the participants are consenting adults.  Teaching our children the norms that we were taught as children is doing them a great disservice.

I want to raise my sons both sex-positively and gender-positively.  I want them to be prepared to interact with people of all sexual proclivities and gender identifications, and to be confident in choosing their own labels when it comes time.  I don't want them to feel like they have to constrain their behavior based on a cultural norm that is outdated and damaging.

Plus, I kind of like My Little Pony.