Sunday, May 29, 2011

Of Gender and Choice

Every so often there is a debate about hereditary and nurture, and the parent's influence on a child's own sexual identity. It is said that girl babies are dressed in pink and boys are put in blue garments. Girls have dolls and boys get more mechanical objects to play with. I made most of my children's clothes and my mum-in-law knitted their jumpers and various outfits. In those days we did not know what the child's sex would be until the baby was born. I had a pile of clothes waiting for my babies, all of them blue, yellow or white. The hood of the pram was lined in a pretty blue simply because I thought it went nicely with the grey carriage. I am not keen on pink but I would loved to have had a girl child. I have three wonderful handsome sons. I made them dresses as it was best for nappy changing. I am amazed that tiny little ones are put in jeans as if they were mini dads (or mums for that matter). I enjoyed smocking and sewing their little garments. Stretch material was not available in those days and I wanted them to be comfortable. Once they were running around I made them little easy-iron shirts and shorts.
As far as toys are concerned, soft toys followed by constructive toys which they loved. Cars are loved by little children because they can manipulate them and make them move — brum-brum! Houses can be built and knocked down, cranes can be built and manipulated, blocks built up and knocked down, Leggo taken apart and constructed. Drawing, painting etc etc - boys and girls have the same. Teddy can have his arm bandaged whether the owner is boy or girl. If a son follows his dad that is natural. My sons can use a sewing machine but they don't normally sew — by choice. When my sewing machine stopped working my four-year old fetched me the correct fuse and changed it in the plug. He had watched his dad — his choice.
If parents turn their daughters into pretty-pretty girls in pink only, and, or, turn them into mini-sexy girls at too early an age it is rather silly and confusing. Children should be allowed to be children and play and get messy. To do the opposite and try to keep a neutral sexual identity is rather silly too. Let boys be boys and girls do their own thing too. My lads may have worn convenient little dresses when babies but they all grew up to be strapping lads AND engineers just like their dad!

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