Thursday, December 6, 2007

Girls and Boys

B and I were watching "Little People Big World," on TLC the other night and I commented once again on a trend that I have noticed with the Roloff family. It might just be me, but I think that the father on that show does not spend enough time with his daughter. And the family is always divided along gender lines. The boys go off with the father, while the daughter does something with the mom. Now, I know that this is an edited TV show and I don't know what really happens, so I hope that it is not how my family was, where there was not a choice of what the girls and boys would like to do. Boys did sports and active things, while girls shopped and cooked and cleaned. Ugh. I hope that the daughter on the show chooses to hang out with her mom, but was invited to go deep sea fishing and on all the other trips that the boys go on with their father.
Following a short discussion about this, B commented that he was surprised how his sister was using traditional gender roles in her behavior towards her two children. Our niece is always dressed in pink and told how pretty she looks. Meanwhile, they are constantly saying about our nephew, "He's such a boy!" I can't for the life of me figure out what he does that makes him any different than his sister. From what I've seen, both children have the same impulses to play with the same toys in the same way. What is different is their parents' reaction to their play. The girl is often moved away when she upsets the boy and the boy is allowed to be more rambunctious and loud. For example, we all went into Pottery Barn Kids and both children headed to the display table that had a couple of Fire House doll houses with Fire trucks and a fireman doll. Both children were playing with this set up and everything was fine until our niece made the mistake of putting her hands on the truck that her brother had been playing with. This made her brother scream, so her father scooped her up and carried her off to the "girl" section, which was covered in pink and had female dolls.
Moments later, her mother came in from another store and said to me, "He's such a boy with his trucks, and she is such a girl, always wanting pink and dolls." Or something like that, I can't exactly remember. I was so annoyed I just walked away. I have tried to have conversations with her about this and she's not really into it, so I didn't want to tell her what really happened. I just held my tongue and told B about it later.

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