Back in June, I wrote about NPR’s story on the “End Of Gender.” The article looked at the new “trend” of gender-neutral parenting (which really, is not new at all) and what the potential impact of trying to dissolve gender could be. I had my own issues with the concept to begin with.
When I think of gender-neutral parenting, I don’t think about completely dismantling the notion of gender. Rather, my goal is to provide space for my son to feel comfortable with whatever activity/book/color/toy/TV show/t-shirt/etc… he chooses regardless of the stereotypical gender associated with it.
If he wants to wear a pink shirt and butterfly wings, I want that to be okay.
If he wants to run around with a blue shirt and Superman cape, I want that to be okay as well.
I don’t want him to grow up thinking that he is limited in his choices because of gender stereotypes, and I don’t want him to grow up and limit other people (men & women) because of gender stereotypes.
However, I’m not saying we should get rid of gender as a construct.
Hell, I may not be super feminine, but I dig being a girl and all the fun bits that come along with it. And I know that EZ loves being a boy. But that still doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to rock some long hair and painted nails occasionally.
So, no. I don’t want to end gender, I just want to end the narrow view of it.
I’m not too worried about gender slipping away anytime soon. Since that NPR article came out, it seems as if the social concept of gender is still alive in kicking in both fabulous and stereotypical ways.
Trust me, gender isn’t going anywhere, despite the “trend” in gender-neutral parenting.
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In the past few weeks, there have been a few more articles looking at gender and contemplating if it has worn out its welcome (and what the possible ramifications of that might be).
Ms. Magazine blogger (and feminist sociologist), Jessica Holden Sherwood takes a look at the arguments raised when discussing eliminating gender. While I’m still not sure I agree with the concept overall, I do see merit in some of her points. Plus, the piece is a clearly written primer of sorts on the issue and a good place to start if you’re just beginning to think about the dissolution of gender.
In Lisa Hickey’s article, Is It The End of Gender or the Beginning of Men? over at The Good Men Project, she writes about feminism, gender, and how men sort of have it hard too. It’s interesting to read her thoughts on how grown men struggle within the confines of stereotypical gender norms as well… But not surprising, given my experiences with my own little man.
I still don’t think we’re anywhere near the dissolution of gender. But I would like to think we’re getting closer to the acceptance of more gender fluidity, and that in and of itself is a step in the right direction. I maintain that the most important part of this whole thing is the talking part.
Gender can be tricky to discuss, especially when you’re challenging long-held norms and notions about what it means to be a boy or a girl. When that spectrum is no longer binary, people need to work out their own issues in order to talk about it, accept it, and move on.
So – let’s talk about it. Let’s work through our discomfort. Let’s talk about gender fluidity. About stereotypes and how to move past them. About how gender is portrayed in the media and how that influences us on both conscious and subconscious levels.
Perhaps the more we discuss it, and ask ourselves why some people get so up in arms when a little boy wants to wear a princess dress or grow his hair out, we can come to a place where instead of completely dismantling the concept of gender, we redefine it – we expand our view of it instead of adhering to strictly defined stereotypes that are close to overstaying their welcome.