Social Question

onesecondregrets's avatar

What do you think of raising children in a "gender neutral" way?

Asked by onesecondregrets (2591points) February 21st, 2010

Do you feel it would avoid eternal issues of struggling with “who am I, who do I want to be, who should I be?”
Do you feel it would cause more issues for the child or less?

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72 Answers

ChaosCross's avatar

I think it would cause more issues than not. I think that at birth a person is naturally hetero-sexual and should thus be treated as such, if they were raised in-specifically they would have to look to outside groups and influences for the answer.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

I suppose you can try but with school and societal influences you’re not the only one raising your kids.
I still wouldn’t to send a boy to school wearing pink.

Disc2021's avatar

1. No, I dont think it would delete basic human psychology.
2. You could argue either side equally.

Overall – I think children should be raised at the discretion of their parents.

dpworkin's avatar

I wish it were possible, but I doubt that it is.

thriftymaid's avatar

Not much. I think it’s healthy to expose children to a variety of activities and experiences so that they can discover their own talents and interests. They will not always fall in line with traditional gender choices. But exposure is all they need; no prodding required.

casheroo's avatar

@ChaosCross “Is naturally hetero-sexual” What??

Seek's avatar

I completely believe gender identity is embedded in the child itself, at least as far as our traditional views of “gender identity” go.

If you put my son in a room full of toys, he’ll go immediately to a blue truck or a baseball. He couldn’t care less about teddy bears (though he’ll give one a kiss if you hand it to him, he’ll throw it out of the toy stroller before pushing the stroller around) and dress-up is equivalent to torture.

His bedroom has all sorts of toys, from make-believe to sports, to cars and trucks, and even a few dolls and baby bottles and the like.

I’m not going to tell him “No! You can’t play with that doll! You’re a boy!” What part of having a penis and a “y” chromosome means taking care of a pretend baby is off-limits?

davidk's avatar

Some hold that gender is all a “social construct” and that if we simply “deconstruct” the cultural elements then a child would seamlessly discover their own identity. To this notion, I must simply ask: where do you think the societal constructs come from in the first place?

Take away the present social constructs and within one generation all of these constructs would re-emerge, naturally. This applies to heterosexuality, homosexuality and blendings thereof.

gottamakeart's avatar

Sexisim is prejudice, so YES. if a female wants to use tools and mow the lawn- don’t try to stop her. Same goes for the boy that wants to paint and draw and isn’t into sports at all. I’m speaking from experience here. “Gender roles” are total and complete B.S. I beleive enough of us have lived through it, so why would we perpetuate it?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

You experiment on your children, and I’ll experiment on mine.

lynfromnm's avatar

I think you give your child the benefit of the doubt. Explain that there are social roles and THEY get to decide whether to accept them or push the boundaries. You can offer the toy dump truck and the Barbie doll to children of either sex and let them decide. Of course you have to be willing to accept and support the choice – that’s where the unconditional love comes in.

If you decide to eliminate gender expression in the home, you still have to explain to your child that the rest of the world may be different. In one way or another, this is something we all do with our kids anyway – we have to let them know that running around naked is fine at home, but not when you are visiting little Tommy down the block. Some things are private, others are public, and kids DO get that if you take the time to explain.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I don’t think raising a kid like that will avoid any of internal struggles most of us go through as we age. There are surface things you could take away such as types and colors of clothes, toys, social body language and such but you’d have to give each sex the ability to naturally birth if you really want to see more of a melding.

Buttonstc's avatar

I think that raising children to kowtow to as few societal stereotypes as possible is a very worthy pursuit and will help to develop them into an emotionally healthier well balanced adult. This would include gender along with issues of race, class, privilege, ability/disability etc.

The more I can encourage them to think outside the box, the freer their minds will be to be creative caring and loving individuals at ease with themselves in relation to the world around them. So much of the gender stereotyping in current society has a stultifying effect all around.

That being said, however, there was one sentence in the first paragraph of that article which caught my eye. It spoke about parents who are raising gender neutral children in order to be an agent of social change. What ?

I don’t believe that children should come into the world with a job. If, as adults, they decide that they would like to take up the cause of gender equality that’s all well and good and I would encourage those endeavors.

But I would be raising kids without the baggage of gender straightjacketing for the sake of their own maximum development as a person, not as an agent of social change ( as selfish as that may sound).

If that process results in favorable changes in whatever portions of society in which they participate, that’s a great by-product. But it certainly is not my primary raison d’être for doing so. That’s just a bit out of my range.

Also, as others have noted, it’s an uphill battle. This is not solely due to society’s expectations either. Part of it is biology. Folks were heading in this direction in the 60s and early 70s when the feminist movement was in full swing and I think that focusing attention upon it was overall a good thing. As long as one is not straining overly hard to influence the child in either direction.

As one female comedian wryly observed about placing so much emphasis on trying to get kids to play, act, or dress in gender atypical ways: “They forgot about the truck gene.”

This is an obvious reference to the fact that many children ( but certainly not all) who are boys go through a stage of dedicated fascination with all things relating to tools, cars, trucks, and construction equipment usually starting as toddlers.

I think it’s a bit ridiculous to say that’s caused by undue societal influence. It’s biology. Kids at that age are just basically being themselves and being attracted to things which they find fascinating.

For me, trying to squelch something like that because its gender typical is ridiculous. On the other hand, I also find it ridiculous to squelch a little boys desire to play with dolls or otherwise express the nurturing or artistic side of his personality. Just let him be. He’ll figure out how that fits into the rest of his life as he gets older. And hopefully he well be a nurturing father with his own children because no one discouraged this quality in him by telling him that boys shouldn’t like playing with dolls.

Encourage exploration of all areas without labeling them as masculine or feminine. Let the child take the lead.

If a little boy wants to get hot pink hearts painted on his face, let him. If a little girl wants to get her face painted as a warrior or a skeleton, don’t have fits about it. Allow her the freedom and dignity to explore her interests without shame or “nudging” into another direction.

IMHO opinion, those are just a few examples of gender neutrality. Just allowing the child to be their authentic self.

But this also means that if you have a kid who is a natural “girlie girl” or a rough and tumble little boy, let them be that also even if it is fairly typical. Allow the child the dignity to choose for their own self without pressure in one direction.

There is plenty enough time when they are older to have discussions and teachable moments regarding all of the valid philosophical underpinnings of gender neutrality. But when they’re little, just allow kids to be their authentic little selves regardless of whether their choices are typical or atypical.

They arent agents of social change. They’re little kids. Let them be little kids and try to respect their choices. Some kids will delight/horrify their parents with their gender typical/atypical choices. Just allow them their choices and the learning and growing that result.

To sum it up, I’ll borrow the philosophy expressed in Marlow Thomas’ book from back in the day:

“Free to be You and Me”

As long as their choices aren’t harmful to anyone, let them have whatever gender expression suits them in terms of behavior, play, or dress. They will be better adults for it.

DominicX's avatar

I agree with what @Buttonstc and @thriftymaid said about not pushing the child into anything, but allowing them all the options. That’s how I was raised. No, I was not raised gender-neutral in that it was made pretty clear that I was a boy and that my sister was a girl, but that didn’t mean my parents restricted my options to what society viewed as traditional gender-specific options.

As a kid, I did gymnastics, had an EasyBake oven, loved the color pink, played with baby dolls, and loved playing school and house. I also had Hot Wheels, Legos, K’nex, and loved anything electronic and loved playing in the dirt. My parents didn’t restrict any of my interests and they didn’t push me, either. I greatly appreciate that and I would do the same for my kids.

I see a difficulty in trying to raise your children and pretend that gender doesn’t exist. First of all, sex does exist and there is no denything that. People are born and male and female and you can’t pretend that doesn’t exist. As far as I’m concerned, the terms “boy” and “girl” simply correspond to those and most of the time, they line up. That’s part of the reason why most people are not transgendered. I have no desire to be the “other gender”.

Furthermore, people for the most develop a sexual attraction primarily to one specific gender. So it would be silly to pretend that gender doesn’t exist if they’re attracted to a specific one.

I agree with not pushing any gender stereotypes and gender roles on your children. But gender does exist and to pretend it doesn’t is goofy (maybe that’s not the goal in the first place; I just wanted to put that out there anyway). That’s not to say gender always lines up with biological sex, as evidenced by people who are transgendered. But most people are not that way.

Anyway, GA to @Buttonstc because I agree with everything said there.

Facade's avatar

I think it’s a good idea to let the child do what they want when it comes to gender identity. Give them choices on both sides, and let them choose. If a boy wants to play with the football, fine. If he wants the Easy Bake Oven, that’s fine too. I don’t think that boys and girls are born with gender roles because gender roles are different when you care to venture outside the US.

candide's avatar

totally ridiculous

eponymoushipster's avatar

it’s gonna make a hell of a mess on the floor, that’s for sure.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I can’t imagine it is an easy thing to do what with all the outside influences that child is likely to experiences. Once kids get to a certain age most toys and clothes are quite obviously aimed at one gender or the other. There aren’t many gender neutral things on the market for kids. I don’t have kids so I can’t say what I would do but I would like to think that if I was raising kids that I would give them options from a young age and then their personalities will take over. If a little girl is more interested in toys that are more aimed towards boys then who cares? Having said that, what would worry me is how that child is treated when they get to school if they don’t fit in with the normal gender stereotypes.

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

Did anyone else lose faith on the article the OP linked to when they read the title? “Is Rasing Your Child to Be Gender Neutral Possible?”

The gender barriers are much looser for young girls than they are for young men. A girl can shoot guns, play sports, go mudding, etc without getting any worse stigma than being a Tomboy from society. If I young boy shows interest in feminine areas, then they are much more likely to be persecuted for it.

As for raising children in a gender neutral environment, that’s fine with one proviso. You must make certain that the children realize that society may or may not except their openness concerning typically gender-exclusive activities and interests.

Jack79's avatar

I did not exactly raise my daughter “gender neutral”. She always knew she was a girl, and that I expected her to fall in love with a boy some day and marry (even if I know that this may not happen). She realises there are two different genders (or at least the two main ones).

But beyond that, I allow her to play with whatever toys she prefers, and pick the activities she likes best. She doesn’t like dolls much, but she does like making tea (in miniature cups made of real porcelaine). She likes ballet and horseriding, but also astronomy, which is typically male, and football. She also tries to imitate my shaving ritual (with a T-shaped stick), though I’ve told her that she’ll never need to do that, at least not to her face (I hope).

Master's avatar

The idea is not to raise them to behave in a way or another, but rather to allow them to express themselves and for the parent to allow the kid to express his/her gender themselves.

If the child is cisgender, then he will be regardless of being raised in a “gender neutral” enviroment or not, however if he or she is in some way transgendered/androgynous/gender fluid it will allow them to be themselves without thinking something is wrong with them and developing fears and traumas they’ll take into adulthood.

nicobanks's avatar

I think children should be raised to be aware of the options in life that are available to them. One’s sex needn’t dictate anything about one’s behaviour or feelings or viewpoints on the world.

wundayatta's avatar

Everyone I’ve heard of, including myself and my spouse, who tried to raise their children in gender neutral ways, got incredible amounts of pushback from the kids. They wanted their gender-appropriate toys and to play in gender-standard ways, no matter how much we tried to cajole them otherwise.

My son, when four or five, had no compunctions about playing like girls did, as well as doing boy things. However, by the time he was ten, he was not into that nearly as much, although he still lets his older sister give him makeovers on occasion.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I attempted to raise my children when they were young in a way that did not force they into rigid, predefined gender based roles. My first child picked out a “Tonka” dump truck as her preferred toy at the age of 2 or 3. Her younger brother at that age chose an anatomically correct baby boy doll. Of course they had and played with all kinds of toys and as they matured, they gravitated to traditional gender roles.

Even their mother’s essential absence and coldness in their childhood did not distort their gender identity. When after three children, she came out as a lesbian and moved out to live with another woman, the children’s gender identity did not waver.

Our family eventually fell apart, due to an ugly divorce and a poor choice on my part to remarry to try and restore a maternal influence in the home.

I have managed to rebuild an excellent relationship with my daughter and maintain a relationship with my youngest son. I am still striving to reestablish a relationship with my older son. My mistakes and the disorder in the home was not related to the early low gender-specific pressure in the children’s early years.

My daughter is married with two children and my sons seem comfortable in their lives and heterosexual males.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ChaosCross I don’t believe people are not naturally heterosexual.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@davidk they come from society, from parents, from caregivers – if all gender is so inherent, why teach it? why police it? why say things like ‘only boys do this and only girls do this’? shouldn’t it just automatically follow?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I raise my kids in a gender neutral fashion in that my husband and I, as parents, don’t inform our parenting by the fact that these children were born categorized as male. They’re still young so strangers read them as either girl or boy and we sometimes correct and sometimes we don’t, because it doesn’t matter to us how they’re read. My oldest, 3 and a half, knows he’s a boy, that’s what others call him but that’s that. Every time he says others have said (because he does experience others raising him) that only girls are allowed xyz, I correct him and say that’s not true. I don’t make an emphasis on gender or lack thereof, same with all other constructs. When he grows up a bit, I will explain to him that in our house he can wear, act, do whatever and that outside others will expect things of him because they have ideas about what boys should be and that these ideas are varied and that he pay them no mind because it’s more important who he is as a person, not as a gender.

liminal's avatar

I don’t really like the phrase gender neutral, it doesn’t make much sense to me. It suggests to me that there is some safe middle-ground, if veered from, lands a person in masculine or feminine land. I don’t believe people are that black and white.

I do like the idea of raising my children without gender prescription. Which (as @Buttonstc @thriftymaid, and @Simone_De_Beauvoir said) means avoiding all sorts of stereotypes, binaries, and prescriptions for their lives. This being said my son thinks of himself as a boy and my daughter thinks of herself as a girl yet they don’t base this on things they like or talents they have. We hope for them to value themselves for how they think and how they experience their character, not what they have (or don’t have) between their legs and what they choose to do (or not do) with it. It is our hope that having their value in who they are they will allow them to see their gender identification as simply another part of themselves and not a definition of who they are.

Jack79's avatar

Also my personal experience as a child was that I loved playing with my sister’s dolls, but in a more boyish way (the same way I played with my toy soldiers, except the dolls were bigger). I’d have them fight or play football, whereas my sister would obviously feed them and make them kiss Ken or whoever it was back then. My parents objected, but more on the grounds of property (I shouldn’t be playing with the toys that weren’t mine) rather than gender. I wasn’t particularly pushed to boyish things, I think I leaned towards them naturally (though school may have had a lot to do with that), and eventually grew to be a man like most boys.

Today, I am different in that I cook and clean and like children, but I am neither particularly macho (I detest violence) nor particularly “soft”. I am certainly not gay, and even though I am shy around girls, I have been quite successful overall with the opposite sex. I am certainly seen as weird in many ways by many people, but as far as gender is concerned, I’m your basic old-fashioned male stereotype.

iphigeneia's avatar

You can try giving them options, but, as others on this thread have said, the girls will generally go for the dolls, and the boys for the trucks. A great deal of research exists that has pulled apart the debate about gender roles, and while of course societal expectations are very influential, there are biological differences between males and females which affect their behaviour from birth.

Raising children to be aware of how gender expectations operate in their society and giving them opportunities to play and express themselves in ways that aren’t typical of their sex will help to free them from the idea that males should be masculine and females should be feminine, but it won’t stop them from conforming to their gender roll if they don’t want to.

Despite the typos in that article, the author makes a good point that instead of trying to make children ‘gender-neutral’, they should be taught to be ‘gender-appreciative’. I don’t think that attempting to ‘free’ children from their gender will help with identity issues at all. At the end of the day, a person’s gender is a significant part of their identity, whether they keep to cultural stereotypes or not.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Jack79 you’re certainly not gay? is that necessary to qualify?

semblance's avatar

I think the first question is really, “Is it possible to raise a child in a gender-neutral way” before asking should you do so. No family, no matter how closely knit, can possibly stand up against the weight of social organization. Gender difference is a fact of life. If you don’t deal with it within the family, the child will learn her or his lessons elsewhere. The trick is to deal with the issue within the family in a positive way, which maximizes the potential of each child, whether it be in activities which are “traditionally male” or “traditionally female”. Denying the gender difference that everyone else believes in is a non-starter.

dutchbrossis's avatar

I think it is a wonderful thing to raise children in a gender neutral way, and I plan to do so when I have children

MacBean's avatar

My opinion can be summed up as such: Binary gender is bullshit. Raising kids to believe in it and conform to it is harmful to society.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@MacBean I second that – my husband thirds it – my best friend fourths it and there are a dozen others, more than dozens that I am personally connected to. We’re not alone.

YARNLADY's avatar

All I can say is that we ‘hippies’ in the 1960’s tried, and failed. I don’t know how it is possible in the U.S. to do any such thing, with every store separates boy and girl, and most schools and just about every other person you meet.

In the family, with no outside influence, it might be possible, for the first two or three years, but after that, I don’t see any chance.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@YARNLADY we, as parents, have more power than we think. there will be outside influence, we can raise them to resist it.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Get back to me when your children are raised and trying to compete in the ‘real’ world.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@YARNLADY there’s no ‘real’ world – the world is what we make it…I’d hate for them to be successful in this world you speak of, because that would mean they have learned nothing.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Ah, such as dreams are made of.

Jack79's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I’m pretty sure I’m not gay, yes. My point being (if you read that post) that playing with dolls neither makes a boy more “girly” in any way, nor does it derive from some homosexual instincts or anything like that, which is what some people might think. I think kids will do whatever they find funny – boys wearing their mum’s lipstick, girls playing with guns – and it won’t affect their future gender roles or sexuality.

mattbrowne's avatar

A tomboy would let you know that she wants to take up boxing instead of becoming a cheerleader.

Neutral raising doesn’t make sense. We should raise our kids with their personalities in mind.

davidk's avatar

Let’s talk evolution…
Gender constructs and culture in general are products of genetics’ interaction with natural forces, providing advantages in natural selection and mitigating the forces of survival of the fittest. The social constructs stemming from gender are merely the perpetuation of advantages secured over millions of years. Nullifying these social constructs is tantamount to denying offspring these accumulated advantages in an attempt to re-invent the wheel with every newborn.

The irony here is actually that the culture (social constructs) that some seem to deride was actually the force that allowed them and their ancestors to feel sufficiently removed from the cruel hard facts of nature. This sense that we are not constantly embroiled in survival of the fittest is a product of human culture. Therefore, these social constructs have enabled people the artificial luxury to sit back and say, “Hum, I don’t really think gender is real, so I will attempt to raise my child in gender neutral fashion.”

Bottom line: the only reason you are even able to consider raising a gender neutral child is due to the social constructs that you deny.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir You said that sometimes you correct people when they read your children as either “boy” or “girl”. How do you do that and is it usually well recieved? For example, if someone told you that you had a beautiful little boy how would that make you feel and what would your response be?

eponymoushipster's avatar

“what a lovely it you have!”

MacBean's avatar

@eponymoushipster: “What a lovely child you have!” Because why does gender matter? Especially at ages before secondary sexual characteristics have developed. All assuming does is make the speaker look like an idiot. It’s not like you ever hear “What a lovely little boy!” “She’s a girl.” “Oh. Well, she’s ugly as fuck, then!” (Though that would be pretty funny…)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@davidk I do not deride culture, just the fact that people think it is inherent truth. I do not deny evolution but doesn’t mean evolution has always been right and evolution doesn’t concern itself with what color toys girls should play with…you’re taking a related field and making it somehow essential to the topic…and obviously I agree with your last statement but that doesn’t make raising a gender neutral child any less necessary…
@Leanne1986 I don’t really correc them ‘well thank you, he is actually a boy, but it doesnt really matter – we don’t gender our kids’ – the correction is for their benefit not for that of myself or my kids. And I haven’t had any negative reactions. If they said I have a beautiful little boy, I’d say ‘thanks’ and move on.

Jack79's avatar

@MacBean my daughter was always mistaken for a boy once we cut her hair. Not only does she typically dress in trousers, but she hates pink, flowers, etc (which might give her gender away) and also acts like a boy in public (eg the playground), where she will often climb trees, get into a brawl, or play with mud.

I never recall any stranger recognising her as a girl, and when we went out with my ex (who had another girl the same age), everyone recognised the other girl for what she was (blonde hair tied in pigtails) and mistook mine for a boy.

no, I’m not making a point, just remembered it now that you said that

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

@mattbrowne: But would a young man let you know he is interested in cheerleading? Or perhaps ballet?

You can’t depend on a child to always speak up for what they want. Sometimes you have to let them know its okay first.

davidk's avatar

See above: ”...but [this] doesn’t mean evolution has always been right and evolution doesn’t concern itself with what color toys girls should play with…you’re taking a related field and making it somehow essential to the topic…”

I certainly hope that I haven’t offended you or anyone else. That was not my intent.

Yes, I am taking an essential field (evolution) and relating it to the topic, because it is essential to the question.

Evolution is neither right nor wrong, it just is. Evolutionary rectitude is simply determined by the relative success of a particular trait fitted to a specific environment.

As to the evolution having a part in color preference, I beg to differ.

Consider this:
If one argues that sexuality is genetic (that a person “can’t help who they are attracted to”) then one must also accept that the same process applies to the essential elements of all human culture. Gender, as an enculturation of sex, is obviously essential for the survival of the species. In short, gender is the culture of sexual reproduction.

One last step:
Gender is a social construct based on the culture of sexual reproduction. Gender’s essential evolutionary function is therefore to buffer the inefficiencies of each generation having to “re-invent the wheel.”

Though culture may allow individuals to believe or feel that they can be free from the laws of nature, that is just a feeling. A gay couple can be in love and share a wonderful life together, but ultimately they are acting to eradicate the genes that are so critical to what they feel is their identity. A parent may choose to raise their child in gender neutral fashion, but ultimately they are merely making their child go through a “re-invent the wheel” process.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@davidk exactly, evolution just is and I do agree that gender is the enculturation of sex but it has led us nowhere but sexism – consider this…the two gender categories exist why? so that there may be (as it was) established a relationship (a power differential) between the two of them that delegates one gender (the ‘inferior’ women) to one domain (the home) and delegates the other (the ‘superior’ men) to the domain of humanity/public/politics…it was not so long ago (and you’ll find many aching for the ‘good old times’) when these things things were ‘set in stone according to biological determinism’...well it doesn’t have to be this way…if you find that gender is necessary so that you can identify who you can mate with, fine…but for those people that don’t care to identify themselves as either, it shouldn’t be considered deviant.

The laws of nature and the laws of culture are not the same thing even if they’re informed by one another. A gay couple is no more unnatural than a heterosexual couple is. There is no reason to think that queer people (like myself, a mother of two) do not reproduce or that we aren’t interested in reproducing (consciously or subconsciously).

I, as a parent, believe my child will benefit from not having norms placed on them (at least here at home). I do not make their gender anything to point out to them. I do not force them to play with anything in particular or wear anything in particular. I would give the same toys and clothing to my female children and tell them the same things. I will, of course, teach them what society’s views on gender are and how to keep themselves safe and sound.

semblance's avatar

Simone De Beauvoir -

All of these sociological discussions are interesting in the abstract, but I note a practical problem in what you have said:

“I do not force them to . . . wear anything in particular. I would give the same . . . clothing to my female children . . . .”

So, does that mean you are going to tell your male child that it is okay to wear a skirt or dress? Don’t get me wrong. I think skirts are really more practical and comfortable than pants and I feel sorry for men because they don’t have that option. I also do not think skirts are inherently “feminine”, as witness there use by males in other cultures. However, I suggest that you would put the male child at risk of at least near-universal ridicule, and even at risk of serious physical harm, if you allow him to parade around in public anywhere in the USA in a skirt or dress.

I don’t think children should be the subject of sociological experiments by their parents. A responsible parent prepares the child for the real world, not a philosophical abstract or ideal that does not exist. If children are to function in society they have to know what the norms are, whether or not they are taught to internalize them as a required code of conduct. You cannot explain the norms to them while being totally gender neutral. Thus, I submit that it is impossible to truly raise a child in a completely gender neutral way while fulfilling your responsibilibity as a parent.

eponymoushipster's avatar

yeah, this is why there’s so many fucked up kids in the world.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@semblance yes they can wear skirts and whatever they want to wear – but they will know that others not so bright people out there will ridicule them for it and make fun of them because they’re ignorant and think these arbitrary rules makes sense…no one is more aware of ridicule and actual discrimination than me, an activist for the lgbt community of over a decade and a best friend to a trans person who doesn’t ‘pass’ please, spare me on the details…because I agree with you that children are not to be my sociological experiment, it is okay by me that my kids are thought of as boys by others…if you read my first comment I say that the only way gender neutrality enters my parenting is by not having their gender matter to us…in any way…I did not say that I am putting them in the face of danger and ridicule and I can too teach them why society will respond in whatever way and how that’s nothing to be afraid of, just something to pity.

@eponymoushipster yeah, good thing you’re not having any.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir with you? yeah, probably not. it’d be confusing for you. you know, since i only have one set. I’m not slicing myself up to add a vag. it’d throw you a curve, im sure. what with my “gendered” viewpoint.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@eponymoushipster I’d take you however you are, if it was meant to be, that’s what you don’t seem to get

semblance's avatar

Simone De Beauvoir -

That’s a pretty good answer, but I have two comments.

I disagree that that society’s response is not something to be afraid of. Ideally, it should not be, of course. But the fact is that being subject to near universal ridicule and even being physically attacked are real dangers. It is wise to be afraid when there is a real risk of harm. That does not mean that one is necessarily being controlled by the fear, but it is senseless to deny that it is prudent to be afraid.

My only other comment is that your response proves my point. You cannot raise your children in a totally gender neutral way. You can certainly try to instill values in them which do not depend on traditional gender based models of behavior, and more power to you, but if you prepare them for life in the real world they have to have an understanding that the rest of the world generally has a markedly different point of view.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@semblance I do not deny the dangers – I meant more not being afraid of what others may believe..and I never said I can’t raise them in a completely gender neutral way.

semblance's avatar

Simone De Beauvoir -

Well, at least it sounds like you are going into this with eyes open. Good luck to you. Personally, I am glad that my child bearing days have past.

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OpryLeigh's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I like what you have said about how you raise your kids. I think, as long as you make them aware of what society expects and how society may act towards something a little out of the norm (which you already said that you do) then I think raising them to be gender neutral and express themselves in whatever way they may choose is a great idea. Just out of interest, how do you dress your boy, I’m assuming he is not old enough to really choose his own clothing so at the moment does he wear typically boyish clothes? I would imagine that girls are easier to raise as gender neutral because you can buy trousers or a skirt for a girl and no one bats an eyelid.

This is slightly off topic but is still quite relevant to this discussion. In days gone by, blue was the colour for little girls and pinks/reds were the colour for little boys. Pinks and reds are more vibrant which is how they expected little boys to be and blues are more docile and virginal which was the expectation of little girls. Also, all children regardless of gender were once called girls as the word “boy” was used for slaves. That information is courtesy of Stephen Fry on QI!

mattbrowne's avatar

@Dan_DeColumna – Yes, we have to let them know that all the benign options are okay. And find the exceptional role model to cast away doubts. Male ballet stars. Female fighter pilots. Whatever. But ultimately if on average the interests differ to a certain extend in large groups of boys and girls / young men and young women we have to accept and respect it. There might be a neurobiological reason for this in addition to societal norms. Hardcore feminists please don’t shoot me.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Leanne1986 they wear shirts and pants, yoga pants, sports shorts – I buy online and I shop in girl and boy departments…I don’t like how gendered clothing is at Old Navy, for example so I look to outside sources…I hate the glittery awfulness that girls must wear and the ugly shirts for boys…so, for now, I look for funny shirts or cool-looking shirts…they wear all colors.

casheroo's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I think I told you this before, but I love h&m for kids. The girl stuff is girly, but I find the “boy” section to be very neutral. I like bright colors on my son, like orange, yellow, or dark purple (I think it brings out his eyes) and they always have some funky stuff to work with. lol. And, you already know that my son gets called a girl all the time. We actually trimmed it in early January, and still get asked if he’s a girl…I don’t even bother correcting people. (it bothers my mother to no end though). And white! Dear lord, apparently only girls can wear white…any time I put him in a white shirt I get nothing but “what a beautiful girl!” comments. lol

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@casheroo yeah if I didn’t hate H&M for some of their pracices, I’d consider it.

iphigeneia's avatar

@mattbrowne I’m a pretty hardcore feminist and I know that there are neurobiological reasons for the average man being better at some things than the average woman, and vice versa. Of course, the differences in ability and interests within the sexes are far larger than the differences between the sexes, and on this basis it’s not fair to say, “Men are usually better at throwing things than women, so we shouldn’t allow women to throw things.”

But the differences in brain structure, hormones, etc. between males and females are significant enough to assist in answering questions such as, “I’ve given my son dolls to play with and taught him to sing lullabies and to braid hair, why isn’t he growing up to be nurturing and emotionally sensitive?” and “Why are there so few females studying maths at a university level?” Of course, society’s gender roles no doubt answer the last question, but are they the only reason?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@iphigeneia perhaps it’s your definition of nurturing and emotionally sensitive and the are less females studying university math because around teenagehood girls are discouraged from studying math in any serious fashion – and there have been studies done to prove that girls do worse in math tests when they feel they’re pitted against boys and that in reality their skills are equal.

iphigeneia's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir When I talk about being nurturing and emotional sensitivity, I mean as displayed in a stereotypically feminine way. My point is that raising children in a 100% gender-neutral environment is not certain to produce gender-neutral children.

I went to an all-girls’ school, and probably as a result have never witnessed anyone discouraging girls from studying maths, but I have not heard of such a culture elsewhere in the current century that would explain fully the underrepresentation of girls in this area. In fact, more recent thought has appeared that boys are actually disadvantaged by the current teaching styles. In reality, female students often perform better than males on standardised maths tests, but the very top end of the spectrum is dominated by males. The eternal question remains: just how much of this is the result of cultural influences?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@iphigeneia oh nothing is certain, of course not – as I’ve said there is no reason to push them towards what their gender is typical for nor against it…we just don’t focus on it…I don’t think that if they end up doing something expected of boys that I’ll be upset…I just don’t think there need to be things we associate with any gender – like skirts…why can’t we just see them as pieces of material and not something only one gender wears…

and your question is a good question, one that interests me greatly and one that will inform my PhD work – the interaction between biology and culture and how much culture can actually affect biology (how our environment affects changes in our neuroplasticity, etc.)...well, it’s all interesting from my perspective as an academic…but as an activist, I focus more on having children not be placed in limited norms

mattbrowne's avatar

@iphigeneia – Everything should be encouraged and allowed of course.

iphigeneia's avatar

@mattbrowne Oh don’t worry, I know what you’re saying and I agree. I just put it as @you because I was commenting on the same points you made.

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