xmlns:fb='http://ogp.me/ns/fb#' OriginalStitch: Gender Mender

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Gender Mender

I have been trawling the internet like some prowling fabric nut for toy-making ideas; my sister's assertion that you need to get cracking early if you're going to make all presents is coming at me hard and fast.  I sat there yesterday while the daughters did colouring-in (aw, don't they sound nice?  In reality they were a pair of agents from the dark forces for most of the day), transferring dates into a book of birthdays, and panicking.  Each birthday invitation that arrives now is a race against time, but I am meeting the challenge head on.
Make a dog from a sock?
Make a rocket from fimo?
Do something snazzy and piratey with magnets?
March and April are full to the brim with birthdays, and I have my first boys' birthdays coming up.  Now, those who know me will know that I rail against sexism in toys - I am constantly astonished by the toy industry's persistent gender stereotyping - just check out a toy catalogue - and especially since I have no sons to create a natural balance of toys, I choose toys with calculated precision to try and achieve that balance between boys' and girls' toys.  They have a kitchen, and also a toolkit, a trainset and lorries and lego and also dolls and dolly beds.  I snort in derision at most things fairy, princess or pink based (although the daughters like those things as much as anything else of course) and feel affronted that my daughters might be excluded from things pirate, castle or tractor based.
So you'd think I'd happily be sewing nice pink bags for the boys, or creating a little princess sock puppet for them, or manhandling giant foam tractor shapes for the girls, complete with rake-wielding farmhands and a giant carrot barrow.
But no.
I'm in a state of nervous tension over what boys will like.
So far the girls have all received either beanbag bags or homemade crayons in bags, and the truth is, the boys would like those things too; but somehow I'm all paranoid that they won't, because the darn system's got to me hasn't it.  It goes like this: right, I'll do a bag and the chunky crayons for Boy 1.  Voice in head - ooh no, boys don't like colouring in.  Boys don't like bags.  And hey presto, the doubt has set it.  Now, the two little boys I know best are actually very keen on colouring in, very good at sitting and doing crafty things, with good concentration spans and so far, no penchant for needing to stand on the table beating their chests and spitting at people.  In fact, when I cast the net further and think of most of the boys I know, they're all rather well behaved, and if I go even further and think about the little girls I know, there are plenty who would quite like to leap from a tree and stuff my chunky crayons in an electricity socket rather than do colouring in.  But there I am, biting my lip with worry about giving crayons to boys, whereas I didn't question it at all with the girls.  I'm disgusted with myself.
So then, who's up for an anti-gender-stereotyping-in-toy-manufacturing demo in Trafalgar Square on Saturday?
I'll knit some placards.  See you at the train station.  Don't wear pink.

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