Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Gender Fluid

My ex husband and I have gotten into some nasty fights over this. He doesn't understand it so, natural to human behavior, he is afraid of it. My ex husband also believes that, like most everyone else, being a girl = bad.

When my son was two, my sister, neice and I were sitting at the table having dinner. My niece stated very matter of factly that she wanted to be a boy when she grew up (she is 5 months older and in kid years, that's a lot). My son told her that she was a girl and that girls could not be boys. My sister then informed him that he could be a girl when he grew up.

Not kidding here: he cried and cried because he did not want to be a girl.

That, along with many other similarly poignant moments, made me realize that even at the young age of 2, girls know it works out to their advantage to be a boy and boys know that it's not good to want to be a girl.

It really did hurt my feelings although it probably shouldn't have. All throughout my life (all women's lives really), I've been told how bad we are, that we are the bearers of original sin, are weaker, sexier, etc. The list could goes on.

However, I don't feel bad or weak or stupid or less intelligent. Quite the contrary actually, though there have been more times than I can count on my two hands when various men have tried putting me back in my place, most through imtimidation tactics.

I think it was when peanut had just turned 4, we were driving our long route home yet again and I had this giant thought: almost all men are raised by women; there may be father's involved and in a small percentage, some fathers are more involved in the upbringing of their children than others. The concept of women raising men is nothing new, sure, but when you think of all the men you have ever encountered that treat you like shit, you can't help but wonder if they would allow their mothers/sisters/daughters/aunts/nieces to be talked to that way. Ask any of those men and their answer will most likely be an adamant hells no.

Then why would they treat women they don't know like that, or their girlfriends/wives?

The question that loomed in my mind that night was this: at what point to men stop realizing that their moms are human and women? or better yet, at what point do they realize this? Then I wondered when boys stopped listening to their moms. I don't mean the usual "take out the trash, clean your room" type stuff, but the intent listening to one's body language, to their real thoughts. I wonder if many a man's disconnect with the women in their life comes from the fact that kids generally don't see their parents as human, hence the extreme shock the body suffers when a parent becomes severely ill or dies. Kids are narcissitic, I am all to aware of this fact, but somewhere around 6 or 7 they can begin to become fully aware of the people around them.

I also tend to think girls do not have the same disconnect as boys do.

What is so great is how peanut gives everyone hugs, regardless of their gender. Just this afternoon he raced across the street to give two of his classmates, who were girls, a "group hug." It makes me proud that he does this as I'm hoping to break that rigid man-type that his dad keeps trying to set him in. I sat next to the mom of one of those girls tonight at the "program from hell" and she told me that her daughter and peanut hug on each other all the time (she comes around in the afternoon and helps with getting kids on the buses). *sigh*

Another example of gender bias is the peeing standing up thing. I didn't care if peanut stood up or sat down, but the rule here is if he leaves the seat up, he has to pee sitting down for a day or two so he can see how it feels. I can certainly understand why he'd want to because shit, it's hella convenient. But my ex husband told him that "men pee standing up and that's it." WTF? He's 5! Agh.

But that's what my ex husband does. He believes letting peanut wear makeup, paint his finger/toenails and letting him wear dreses, among other things, will *gasp* make him gay.

He has since relaxed a bit, but he still holds to this rigid idea of masculinity. I didn't go a very good job of explaining it to him a few weeks ago, either. One day it'll start clicking I hope, as I bring more of those types of issues up. Right now, we have to work on actually getting along before we can do anything else, lol.

So those are my thoughts on this gender fluid thing. I believe in letting a kid be the best kid s/he can be. In the words of Michael Kimmel, just let them have it all and soon enough they will begin ciphering out what they do and do not need and keeping the best parts for themselves.

P.S. I'm really really tired so there will most likely be a lot of typos in this - please point them out to me, k? Thanks.