I wanted to add to my previous post, because it got me thinking about something that happened last year. It was just a tiny little thing. But the emotions I felt then, still well up when I think about it.
I'm not one to deny there are differences between the sexes. Physiologically, this can not be denied. And I don't think it's wrong to acknowledge that in general terms each sex has certain strengths and weaknesses. One is designed for bearing and nursing children for example. At least that much is obvious. But there are certain things that have been assigned to one sex or other, when I feel there is no good reason for it. Colors for example. Why pink for girls and blue for boys? This has not been the case always. In cultures all over the world, this is still not the case. Also, dinosaurs, robots, cars, tools, building toys... These things are all marketed to boys. Make up, fashion dolls, baby dolls, cooking toys ... Girl toys.
I only have daughters. But I've babysat enough boys over the years that I can tell you at least this much. Children love to pretend to cook. Boys and girls. Children love to put on make up and nail polish (especially around the ages of 2 and 3) and they love pretty much anything sparkly. And children love toy cars, especially the little Matchbox sized ones. Without fail, every child I have taken care of for any length of time has shown interest in those things.
For the most part I've kept my children away from marketing. Commercials anyhow, as we do not have commercial TV. But they are still vaguely aware of the culture around us. I'll admit they were a little slower on the uptake than other children I know. Sometimes I'm happy about that times. Other times I worry I'm putting them at a social disadvantage. My kids don't know Hannah Montana (is that still a thing?) or Justin Bieber, and when holidays and birthdays roll around they ask for very little, and even less that is specific. Never a name brand.
Last year was when Wolf Girl finally started realizing toys had "genders". At Christmas time her class had a gift exchange. Each girl was supposed to buy a "girl toy" and each boy was supposed to buy a "boy toy". I took her shopping to pick something out for hers. She stood for probably 30 minutes gazing at all of her favorite toys while I kept my mouth shut. I wanted her to follow the rules and fit in. But I also did not want to crush her spirit. She picked up 3 or 4 different dinosaurs. She showed me a little robot. There was a bag of plastic bugs. This went on for a little while. Then she sighed. "I can't get any of these." She looked at me and said "They think some toys are for girls and some toys are for boys! That's just silly. But I have to get a girl toy." Then we walked around a bit more. She came close to picking a pony type toy. She does like horses. But she finally settled on a little stuffed puppy. This was also a toy she liked. And she was happy with her choice in the end. But I could tell it still irked her that she couldn't get any of the toys she thought were "cool" because they were not "girl toys".
I think something has changed in her since then. It seemed she was briefly resigned to abide by the gender rules once she became aware of them. And truthfully, she is not at all a "tomboy" (I hate that term so much). She does not like or play sports. She's not rough and tumble at all. She's as happy to play with a girl as a boy. She likes wearing dresses. Plain cotton dresses are preferred over frilly uncomfortable things, but still, she does like dresses. It's just that she likes some things they sell in the aisle designated as "boy toys".
When we did school shopping this year, she decided to put her foot down. She picked the black wolf backpack, because it was her favorite. Even though it was clearly marked for boys in the catalog. She excitedly picked out her dinosaur magnets to go on her Planetbox. And she put on her sister's hand-me-down boy shoes. The ones her sister only wore for a couple of weeks because the children all told her they were boy shoes. I admit, I was actually a little worried. Would the other kids react negatively towards her? The way kids sometimes do? But I think she had somehow already developed the confidence in herself that she flat out didn't care. We are almost half-way through the year and she has not complained once. So I think there is hope.