Whether girlie or girlist, girls, because they’re allowed more latitude in their identities, can still be girls: Boys, on the other hand, must be boys — unless no one is watching. In another study of younger children, Cherney and London found that if ushered alone into a room and told they could play with anything, nearly half the boys chose “feminine” toys as often as “masculine” ones, provided they believed nobody, especially their fathers, would find out. That made me question whether any more expansive vision of girlhood can survive without a similar overhaul of boyhood, which, apparently, is not in the offing. Learning to “create an amazing dance routine” (as suggested by [The Girls’ Book: How to Be the Best at Everything]) is still far more Dangerous for boys than, as their own volume suggests, learning to juggle.While I believe it's hugely important to teach my daughter a healthy sense of her own identity as a girl, the most important thing I can do to ensure she lives in a world where those ideals I teach her match up with reality is to teach my son a healthy sense of his identity as a boy. And "healthy" in the latter case has no more to do with trucks, guns, and football than it does with lipstick, dolls, and cookbooks in the former. Or rather, a healthy identity for girls and boys potentially incorporates all of those things--except guns, which are evil tools of Satan no matter your gender.
Saturday, February 09, 2008
Calling for an Overhaul of Boyhood
FoxyJ sent me another good article from the New York Times tonight. In the article, "Girls Will Be Girls," Peggy Orenstein discusses two recent books targeted at girls (and their moms) and reflects on what these books, together with a similar book targeted at boys, say about gender roles. She points out that the girls' books emphasize the fact that girls can have the best of both worlds--"to be able to paint their nails and break them too"--while boys seem to be stuck in conceptions of masculinity forged at least a century ago and reinforced most recently by The Dangerous Book for Boys.