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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Storm the genderless baby (Page 2)

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Author Topic: Storm the genderless baby
kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by Stone_Wolf_:
quote:
It loses the humour when, instead of children getting to choose, parents choose for them.
That is the essence of the joke, the parents attempted to choose for their children, and their children overrode their choice, by being who they are.

Right. But "being who they are" is much harder for children who don't fit into usual stereotypes. We have gotten (mostly) used to girls who wear blue jeans, but boys who are drawn to pink and purple are still outcast. Would it hurt us to stop assuming that a kid with braid is female?

It is like those parents and teachers a few generations ago who would insist that children write with their right hand. Not a problem for most people - because most people are inclined to do so anyway. But it could be a big obstacle for lefties.

And I still don't get what point you are making with Eddie Izzard and Monty Python.

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Stone_Wolf_
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My point with Izzard and Python is that society is much more accepting then previously, as they are accepted even outside the normal standard.
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Bella Bee
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Comedy (especially British comedy) has always included and accepted men in drag, men kissing, men in bed with each other. I think there's a huge difference in accepting this when you're supposed to be laughing at it, and, for example, accepting a man in a nice dress reading the evening news.
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theamazeeaz
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quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
quote:
"Rather not strange at all, I think. From what I understand little boys (pre-school age) who have interests in girly activities are pushed hard away from them and told "no, you can't, that's for girls" very very harshly."
Eh, maybe. Or maybe the mom invests so much emotional energy into the gendered behavior of her sons, that it confuses them and pushes them into adopting attitudes they think will please her. I don't feel I was ever repressed as a child, and I was very much into guy stuff. That's the story you're going to hear for about 98% of people, I imagine- maybe we were pushed into a certain gender role, but for most of us, that "push" was as much a source of comfort and guidance.

You are making the 98% number up, and you admit as much, but I want to point that out.

Even though the three anecdotes I have provided are preselected, no one tells me how much their little brother liked trucks and hated dolls.

The real question is what percentage of little boys showed any sort of interest in dress-up, dolls, what was considered "girls" colors at the time* that got squashed, hard, just once. You can't ask men this question, you have to ask their mothers and their preschool instructors, if they remember.

As a little girl I had lots of stereotypical girl toys, a giant bucket of barbies and ponies, dress-up clothes (our own old dance costumes) and a kitchen set that I played with with my older sister. My first friend was a boy named Scott, and we played together starting when we were both two. Scott had a kitchen like me, but he also had toys that I didn't, such Lincoln Logs, and a marble run that I think I was most envious of. I only remember going over Scott's place so I don't know what we played at my house. I wasn't much interested in Scott's GI Joes. But I liked puzzles and building things. I did rec sports as an elementary school did, but it didn't work out well because I didn't usually get along with other kids, and I grew up to be a nerd. As it turns out I have spatial, computer and math skills that "boys have".

So what I am saying is that it's not that 98% of boys have no interest in girl stuff or dress up, but many many more would like playing if it were socially acceptable, and well more than 2% have probably tried, and all of them would probably be willing to play dolls, dress-up some along with the regular "boy toy diet" of blocks, catch, marble run and GI Joe

*Fun fact. In the earlier parts of the 20th century, pink was for boys and blue was for girls, one of the reasons Cinderella (1950), Alice (1951) and Wendy (1953) can be seen wearing blue dresses in their movies and Wendy's brother Michael wears pink pajamas.

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mr_porteiro_head
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My little brother loved purple. Still does. A few people gave him a hard time for it, but we never did. We were actually relatively old before we ever even learned that purple was considered girly by some.

quote:
*Fun fact. In the earlier parts of the 20th century, pink was for boys and blue was for girls, one of the reasons Cinderella (1950), Alice (1951) and Wendy (1953) can be seen wearing blue dresses in their movies and Wendy's brother Michael wears pink pajamas.
Do you have any sources for this claim, and information about how they swapped?
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Samprimary
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mph

quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
What's your reasoning behind that stance?


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mr_porteiro_head
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Thank you, but no. I am not interested in having that conversation.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:

quote:
*Fun fact. In the earlier parts of the 20th century, pink was for boys and blue was for girls, one of the reasons Cinderella (1950), Alice (1951) and Wendy (1953) can be seen wearing blue dresses in their movies and Wendy's brother Michael wears pink pajamas.
Do you have any sources for this claim, and information about how they swapped? [/QB]
Somebody else provided this link:
http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2831/was-pink-originally-the-color-for-boys-and-blue-for-girls

Although it doesn't support the claims about the Disney films.

Also, it wouldn't be odd today for a woman to wear a blue dress.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
You are making the 98% number up, and you admit as much, but I want to point that out.
I didn't make up the 1/30,000 MTF surgery and 1/100,000 FTM surgery numbers. 2% if the population is 1000 times those numbers and I think a reasonable upper limit for the percent of people who have real transgender issues. I should note that 2%, means 1 in 50 people, or about 6 million people in the US. That's not an insignificant number even if it is a small fraction of the population.

I think there is plenty of scientific evidence that transgenderism is something distinctly different from the more typical problems children and adults face with not fitting gender stereotypes. Its a mistake to think of boys who like playing dress up and girls who prefer trucks to dolls as being part of the same spectrum with transgenderism.

[ June 06, 2011, 02:50 PM: Message edited by: The Rabbit ]

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theamazeeaz
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
quote:
You are making the 98% number up, and you admit as much, but I want to point that out.
I didn't make up the 1/30,000 MTF surgery and 1/100,000 FTM surgery numbers. 2% if the population is 1000 times those numbers and I think a reasonable upper limit for the percent of people who have real transgender issues. I should note that 2%, means 1 in 50 people, or about 6 million people in the US. That's not an insignificant number even if it is a small fraction of the population.

I think there is plenty of scientific evidence that transgenderism is something distinctly different from the more typical problems children and adults face with not fitting gender stereotypes. Its a mistake to think of boys who like playing dress up and girls who prefer trucks to dolls as being part of the same spectrum with transgenderism.

I wasn't talking about about you. I was talking about Orincoro's statement that he thinks 98% of preschool boys fit society's mold for toys they should play with because they fit the nature of little boys.

I do find it fascinating that three times as many men as women undergo gender reassignment surgery.

[ June 06, 2011, 03:08 PM: Message edited by: theamazeeaz ]

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theamazeeaz
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
My little brother loved purple. Still does. A few people gave him a hard time for it, but we never did. We were actually relatively old before we ever even learned that purple was considered girly by some.

quote:
*Fun fact. In the earlier parts of the 20th century, pink was for boys and blue was for girls, one of the reasons Cinderella (1950), Alice (1951) and Wendy (1953) can be seen wearing blue dresses in their movies and Wendy's brother Michael wears pink pajamas.
Do you have any sources for this claim, and information about how they swapped?
Orentein's book mentions it and points out the Disney connection (I linked to it above). Here's a review that mentions the reversal as part of a review of Orenstein's content: http://bostonbookbums.com/2011/04/15/parenting-in-print-cinderella-at-my-daughter/
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
[QB] I don't feel I was ever repressed as a child, and I was very much into guy stuff. That's the story you're going to hear for about 98% of people, I imagine- maybe we were pushed into a certain gender role, but for most of us, that "push" was as much a source of comfort and guidance.

I think that's an aspect of gender people don't want to talk about anymore- that for a lot of people, it's comforting and feels very natural to have their families *show* them how to behave in a way that society and peers will expect. Because if most of us fit exactly the gender that we were born into, don't most of us appreciate at least a little help earlier on getting to know what that means to other people? I understand that makes things difficult for the unsure, but many of us are very sure; why make things complicated?

Great point Orin. I'm afraid that "socialization" has become too often viewed as a wholly negative process by which people are forced into a mold against their nature. A large part of socialization is simply learning how the other members of society view different behaviors. Being able to understand how other people view our choices is a really important skill. Sharing customs, traditions, values and symbols with other people can create a powerful sense of belonging and connectedness.

Having the freedom to reject a particular tradition or custom is a good thing, but it has consequences because those customs and traditions are part of what binds people together. If you choose not to share in those customs, you won't be as closely connected to other people

For example, there are a lot of girl bonding activities I find wearisome. I find the stereotypical chicks night out where you all get a pedicure while you complain about the men in your lives, gossip about the women who aren't there, talk about your menstrual cycles and tell birthing horror stories, to be torture. I know it would be easier for me to make friends with women if I liked that kind of thing and if worked on liking those things (or at least pretended to) there would be payback in that I would fit in better with other women. It's my choice.

But the thing is, if I were a child who didn't understand social rules, I wouldn't be free to choose between acceptance and doing what I liked. Socialization gives people the chance to make a choice about how much social acceptance means to them.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
I do find it fascinating that three times as many men as women undergo gender reassignment surgery.
As do I. I wonder to what extent that is reflective of an underlying difference and to what extent it reflects the fact that femininity in men is far less well accepted than masculinity in women, at least in modern western culture.
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Stone_Wolf_
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I think you got something there. I know a lot of men who think tomboys are hot, but that "sissy men" are disturbing and go out of their way to avoid them.
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kmbboots
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Rabbit, I think that it makes a big difference when it comes to the specific rules we socialize into our children. Socializing them to share toys and not hit each other is very different from socializing traits that are not necessarily good or bad. It doesn't hurt any one for a boy to wear pink and play with dolls.
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BlackBlade
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Rabbit: I think for many progressives the feeling is that by tossing out many of these social norms, you open up many possibilities, that if not good for society at large, are at least better perhaps for the individual.

It's a bit of the essence of liberalism, constatly question, test, try things out. Obviously for me, it, like everything else, can be taken to extremes, but I'm not surprised this has eventually come up.

I expect this experiment with Storm won't really lead to any big revelations other than it's not the optimal way to raise 99.9% of us human beings. It will probably be forgotten, assuming Storm doesn't go on to form some popular cult or do something insane, and down the road somebody else will try it again.

----

Orincoro: I thought your description of why socialization appeals to us was rather excellent.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Rabbit, I think that it makes a big difference when it comes to the specific rules we socialize into our children. Socializing them to share toys and not hit each other is very different from socializing traits that are not necessarily good or bad. It doesn't hurt any one for a boy to wear pink and play with dolls.

I think you are totally missing my point. Yeah, "culture" isn't something that's right or wrong but sharing a "culture" is something that helps people feel connected to each other. And culture has always included norms about fashion and grooming.

Look around you and you will see that people almost with out exception choose to dress like their friends dress, whether they are anarchists or young republicans. Grooming is a form of self expression, but like all forms of self expression its a language that we learn. There is something about dressing like other people that makes us feel like we belong. It's very likely something that's hard wired, hence even anarchists and hippies have a "uniform".

There is nothing morally wrong with a boy wearing a pink dress and his hair in three long braids, but unless that's what lots of other boys are doing, its a choice that is going to isolate him from other people no matter how much we wish it wouldn't.

Its not black and white. Feeling free to express yourself is a good thing but so is a feeling of belonging.

People aren't born knowing how to "fit in" any more than they are born knowing "English". They need to learn the rules in order to be free to choose whether they want to fit in or not.

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kmbboots
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I think that we have some mighty bad criteria for deciding who "fits in" to society. I think that we can change that.
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Stone_Wolf_
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quote:
People aren't born knowing how to "fit in" any more than they are born knowing "English". They need to learn the rules in order to be free to choose whether they want to fit in or not.
Not only is this true, but what qualifies as fitting in changes wildly from generation to generation, and this is not an accident, it's the way each group can identify its members.

quote:
I think that we have some mighty bad criteria for deciding who "fits in" to society. I think that we can change that.
Boots, this seems like a very nebulous statement, care to elaborate?
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
I think that we have some mighty bad criteria for deciding who "fits in" to society. I think that we can change that.

"Fits in" where in this society? Why do you suppose that this phenomenon, of people dressing like their peers, is so wide spread? Why do you suppose that it isn't just the mainstream that has a dress code? Do you think you are any more likely to "fit in" with anarchists if you wear a navy blue suit and tie than you are to fit in with the young republicans if you wear a mohawk and a hoody? Do you think this familywould be any better accepted in the Castro District than this couple would be in an Amish church?

Why do clubs (and sometime just groups of friends) get matching t-shirts? Why do sports fans wear the team colors? Why do Scotsmen wear kilts? Why does every town in Austria have its own Tracht? Why do the Crow, the Navajo, the Hopi, the Cherokee, the Apache (and every other tribe) have distinctive tribal costumes?

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kmbboots
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I don't know that they would be; I think that they - assuming that their intentions are good - should be.

I think that the phenomenon is so widespread because we are afraid of things that are different whether or not those things are harmful.

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mr_porteiro_head
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I think that we sometimes worry so much about nobody ever feeling excluded that we try to engineer it so that nobody is ever really included.
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kmbboots
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I don't understand that.
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The Rabbit
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kmboots, So you think that when a group of drinking buddies decides to get matching t-shirts like this, its because they are afraid of things that are different.
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kmbboots
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I think that if they shun or torment someone who doesn't particularly care for that shirt (assuming there is someone and that someone is brave enough to voice a contrary opinion) that has to do with fear.
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Scott R
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I'm reminded of the Dropkick Murphy song, "Wicked Sensitive Crew."
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The Rabbit
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Kate, What does shunning people or tormenting people have to do with it? I've never seen anyone shunned for failing to wear the club t-shirt. I've seen no evidence that Scotsmen typically shun people who don't wear a kilt on New Years Eve, or Washington Redskins fans shun anyone who doesn't wear red to a game (unless of course they are wearing the colors of the opposing team).

And on those occasions where someone does get harangued because they don't want to go along with the group uniform, I've never sensed it has anything to do with fear.

There is an enormous gulf between being shunned and feeling deeply connected to a group. Culture, including norms about dressing and grooming, have come to exist because they help stimulate the parts of peoples brains that make them feel connected. Even in a society where diversity is valued, almost everyone dresses like their friends dress. Its a choice most people aren't even conscious of making, but we choose our clothes because we like what they say about us to other people. We understand what our clothes say about us to other people because of socialization.

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
I think that if they shun or torment someone who doesn't particularly care for that shirt (assuming there is someone and that someone is brave enough to voice a contrary opinion) that has to do with fear.

Not always, sometimes the defence of a fashion choice isn't tied to fear so much as proving to one's self and to others, that when pressed, this aspect of the individual's culture is not just a whim or insignificant. We often celebrate social morays that stand the test of time, such as kilts and bag pipes. There are millions of other social morays that are dead because they were unable to stand the test of time. The only the way survive is if we defend them.
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kmbboots
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Sometimes people like to conform, sure. Other times they are pressured to conform either through actual threats or by the expectations of people they want to please. Conformity is not by any means always freely chosen.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Sometimes people like to conform, sure. Other times they are pressured to conform either through actual threats or by the expectations of people they want to please. Conformity is not by any means always freely chosen.

Of course, but what if for example the two groups criticizing each other's clothing are rival schools?

Do you think all conformity that is brought on by societal pressure is bad?

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Sometimes people like to conform, sure. Other times they are pressured to conform either through actual threats or by the expectations of people they want to please. Conformity is not by any means always freely chosen.

Nothing is ever "freely chosen". There are always constraints, always trade offs. Choosing one thing always means not choosing something else. When I choose not to go to the "chick party" because I think getting pedicures and talking the menstruating is boring, I'm also choosing not to spend time with those people and to build the bonds of friendship that would be built that way. As an adult, no one is going to shun me or torment me because I don't have my toenails properly painted, but I'm also not going to bond with people if I pooh-pooh the things they value and enjoy.
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kmbboots
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BlackBlade, As I said, it depends on whether or not the behaving being encouraged is beneficial or the behavior being discouraged is harmful. We have (mostly) finally (!) learned that it isn't necessarily bad for a woman to be good at sports or math. There isn't anything inherently harmful about a boy wearing pink or playing with dolls so I don't see why society has a stake in forcing or even encouraging him to change.

Rabbit, should you be pressured to like those "girly" things? Encouraged? Are those women so narrow that manicures are your only opportunity for bonding? Do you want to bond with them instead of with people who share your interests? And who says that you must "pooh pooh" something that you don't happen to like? You can choose something different without being disdainful of the choices of others.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
As I said, it depends on whether or not the behaving being encouraged is beneficial or the behavior being discouraged is harmful.
I'm saying that sharing a culture, including norms of grooming and dress, is beneficial because it stimulates the parts of our brains that make us feel connected to each other.

I'm saying I think that is something that is hard wired in most people, so you aren't going to change it by saying it shouldn't be that way.

I'm saying teaching a young child that self expression is more important than connecting with other people, is a very naive, limited and short sited view of what's important about being human.

What these parents are doing goes far beyond saying its OK for girls to build things and boys to play with dolls.

Look at the pictures in that article. Jazz would be teased for his hair style choice even if he were a girl.

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kmbboots
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And teaching them that who they are is unacceptable unless they conform to be like other people is harmful. There are ways to connect to each other that are not dependent on how we dress or being interested in what someone else chooses for us. Thank goodness. Otherwise, we would al still be dressing like the Pilgrims and you wouldn't have gone to college much less be teaching at one.
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Rappin' Ronnie Reagan
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
Jazz would be teased for his hair style choice even if he were a girl.

Why?
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kmbboots
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As I said, I think those particular parents are goofy but no more harmful than a parent who scolds their son for playing with dolls or insists their daughters won't catch a husband if they are too smart.

And there are a lot more of those parents.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Rabbit, should you be pressured to like those "girly" things? Encouraged?
No, but I think girls and women should understand that if they choose not to participate in "girly" things, they will have a harder time making friends with "girly girls". I think children should be taught that friendship often means doing things you don't particularly like because you like the people who do them.

And I think they should be taught that the way you dress and groom yourself, communicates certain things to other people. You are free to choose how you will dress, but you aren't free to choose how other people will respond to that.

I think teaching a child that the way they dress and groom themselves will affect the way other people react to them in fairly predictable ways, isn't pressuring them to conform. Its teaching them an important fact of human life.

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kmbboots
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I think that "girly girls" should be taught to appreciate people who are different.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
I think that "girly girls" should be taught to appreciate people who are different.

Sure. But appreciating people who are different isn't the same as forming a deep connection with them.
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Stone_Wolf_
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quote:
I'm saying teaching a young child that self expression is more important than connecting with other people, is a very naive, limited and short sited view of what's important about being human.
I can attest to this one first hand, 100% true.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by Rappin' Ronnie Reagan:
quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
Jazz would be teased for his hair style choice even if he were a girl.

Why?
Have you seen the pictures? Three braids? It reminds me of Alex Doonesbury's hairstyle.
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Raymond Arnold
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I agree with the statement that tribalism (identifying with a group) is fun, and important for developing relationships. What I wish my parents had told me early on was something like "okay, think of social interactions like a game. There are rules you have to follow, that don't necessarily make sense. Different groups have different rules. Understanding the rules will help you fit in, and you can choose how much you care."

Obviously that is not the best metaphor to use for everyone, but it would have been great for me when I was about ten.

I think the question of "how much should you encourage social norms in your children" is a complicated one depending on many factors and cost/benefit analysis. I am highly suspicious of the notion that the status quo is optimal, and the only way to figure it out is to try variations. Does that mean you're experimenting on kids? Yes. But EVERY child is an experiment. You never know exactly what quirks they'll have that'll render the parenting advice you got useless or harmful.

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
I think that "girly girls" should be taught to appreciate people who are different.

Sure. But appreciating people who are different isn't the same as forming a deep connection with them.
So maybe you form deep borns with people that share your intersts rather than just your gender.
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Stone_Wolf_:
I think you got something there. I know a lot of men who think tomboys are hot, but that "sissy men" are disturbing and go out of their way to avoid them.

Men generally have less patience with feminine qualities in other men, I've noticed. Particularly, because men bond over accomplishments and technical or physical prowess and competition, they have a harder time relating to effeminate men who are less interested in competing on the same level.

Now as for "tomboys" or slightly more masculine men, men can often easily relate to these types of women because they can express themselves in the same ways that men are comfortable with. Plus, they've got boobs, which is a bonus.

Not being a woman, I don't know how effeminate men rank for them at all. I know a few women who are, as the gays themselves term it: "fag hags," who are part of gay male social circles, but these women don't seem interested in straight but effeminate men sexually. Generally I don't think a lot of men are accepted in gay female social circles, but I may be wrong. My sister-in-law, who is married to my sister, has mostly male friendships of a more "masculine" nature, and I've known a few other gay women who were like that. My sister isn't the same way at all. As for myself, many of my friendships have been with women, but as I get older (and as I suspect the balance of power in relationships tips towards me as a male in my later twenties, whereas earlier it was with the women), I have founds myself in male company much more often. What I mean by balance of power is, I suppose, that in your early twenties or late teens, women can afford to be entirely receptive to male attention, whereas older, more experienced men don't necessarily "chase" women in the same way, or give them as much control over a relationship- even a friendship. I've also found that as I get older, the qualities that other men find admirable and interesting are often the same qualities that make female friendships harder. That, and I think men past their mid-twenties generally have less patience for friendships with women whom they are attracted to. When you're 20, you'll spend days with someone just hoping they'll change their mind about you. When you're 25, you'll tell the girl how you feel, and there might not be a friendship- you're willing to risk that.

I guess ultimately there are no rules to these things- I've given up being surprised by people or even paying much attention to the issue. I just like to spend time with people I enjoy.

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Amanecer
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quote:
So maybe you form deep borns with people that share your intersts rather than just your gender.
My mother has never felt that she herself was particularly in to "girly girl" stuff and had a hard time passing that on to us, her four daughters. While she certainly taught gender roles, she was very anti-barbie, awkward about us using makeup, and generally not encouraging of super "girly" things. This isn't something that I see as negative, but I can see how it certainly impacted the friendships that I made growing up and continue to make as an adult. I've always hit it off more easily with less super feminine females and had an easier time chatting with a random boy than a random girl.

I moved a few months ago and have recently befriended some very "girly" women that I would typically find intimidating and probably avoid. Sometimes it's like a different world when topics of makeup, fashion, and judgment of other people's appearances come up. But when plenty of other topics come up, I feel right at home and absolutely love their company. There is no question that I've become a bit more concerned about appearance since befriending them though.

Stereotypical female/masculine things are pretty darn shallow, but I think understanding them and feeling a level of comfort with them opens a lot more doors than it closes.

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Jeff C.
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I don't understand what the big deal is and why this is in the news. Are they saying they aren't going to tell their baby what its own sex is, or are they just not telling other people about it? Either way, everyone's going to find out eventually, right?

Studies have already shown that children will grow up to be what they are, genetically. I'm speaking sexually here. I remember a study that had followed a child from its birth up to its teenage years and they kept telling him he was a girl. They let him play with dolls and gave him dresses, but he ended up liking girls anyway. I don't think that's the exact same thing as this is, but it seems to me that if that kid can grow up to still like women, than this one will probably be just fine. Besides, when he/she starts preschool, I'm sure everyone will find out anyway.

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Parkour
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Kids can always turn out fine, but these are more likely not to turn out fine. Probably confused, difficult to relate to, and weird. Really weird.
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ambyr
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quote:
Originally posted by Jeff C.:
I remember a study that had followed a child from its birth up to its teenage years and they kept telling him he was a girl. They let him play with dolls and gave him dresses, but he ended up liking girls anyway.

. . . and no one who is a girl likes girls? :blink:. Gender identity and sexual preference are two very different things.

I get what you're saying here, but the assumption of heterosexuality grates.

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theamazeeaz
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quote:
Originally posted by Jeff C.:
I don't understand what the big deal is and why this is in the news. Are they saying they aren't going to tell their baby what its own sex is, or are they just not telling other people about it? Either way, everyone's going to find out eventually, right?

Just other people.
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Stone_Wolf_
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Who would do that to their child, tell them they are the wrong gender and only give them clothing and toys of the wrong gender? Seems wrong.
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