Gender Politics from the eyes of my eight year old.
Written yesterday afternoon while at soccer practice for Thing 1. We were attending practice for another team our coach coaches because our schedules are bit goofy for the next week or so. This brought us to a new park that Thing 2 had never been to and he was very excited to be climbing all of the new trees. So, of course, I had to be the mean, inconsiderate mommy and drag him away for a bit…
Me: Hey! Thing 2! Come here a sec!
Thing 2: (from up high in a tree) Why?
Me: Just for a minute, I want to interview you for my blog!
(Since the kids know I won’t put their pictures on the blog, and they always see other kids on blogs, the though of actually being included in my blog was a huge incentive)
T2: What are we going to talk about?
T2: Eeeew! Why?
Me: I just have a few questions, and maybe some follow-ups. Is that ok?
T2: I guess, but hurry! There’s lots of trees here! I want to climb them all! (he’s such a monkey-boy)
Me: What do you think about the girls in your class?
T2: Some of them are smart, but one of them is kind of crazy.
Me: What makes you think she is crazy?
T2: She’s crazy because she says she knows everything when she doesn’t.
Me: Why do you say she doesn’t know everything? Maybe she does.
T2: Mo-oo-oo-oo-m, she doesn’t even know her times tables! And besides, nobody knows EVERYTHING!
Me: So, on the playground, who do you hang out with? Boys or girls?
T2: Hang out with both.
Me: Do you play differently with the boys than the girls?
T2: With boys, we play games that are really scary and funny and kind of violent, too. With girls we just kind of talk.
Me: How does your teacher treat the girls and boys?
Me: Who gets called on more often?
T2: Girls! Don’t know why!
Me: Do the girls raise their hands more?
Me: Do the boys shout out or raise their hands?
T2: Raise hands
Me: Who do you think is smarter? Boys or girls?
T2: Some boys know more than girls and some girls know more than boys.
Me: Who’s better in math?
Me: Who’s better at reading?
Me: Writing stories?
Me: So, why do you think that?
T2: It’s what I think and what I think sticks.
Me: If you had to pick a project partner, who would you pick?
T2: A boy, because girls do all the answering and don’t let the boys work. They get bossy and take over.
Me: Is there competition between boys and girls?
Me: Who is it more important to?
Me: Do you get mad if a girl is better?
T2: No, I just compliment them on a job well done.
Me: Are the girls nice to the boys?
T2: Not really.
Me: Who likes school more?
T2: Boys, by a long shot.
Me: What makes you think that?
T2: All the boys in our class like to work and all of the girls want fun.
Me: How can you say that when you say the girls always “take over”?
T2: The girls take over because they want to do it their way. They think boys do it wrong.
Me: Who is a girl in your class that hangs out with boys?
T2: She likes things that boys like, she does things like a boy, and she’s nice.
Me: Can you give me some examples? How does she “do things” like a boy?
T2: She’s not as quiet, she reads lots of science fiction that girls normally wouldn’t read. She’s good at math and good at everything.
Me: Are you saying that girls can’t be good at stuff?
T2: NO! I’m just sayin’ that she’s good, but she doesn’t feel like she has to tell everyone she’s good. When the other girls tell you how much they know, they don’t really know that much.
Me: What about boys? Don’t boys brag, too?
T2: (HUGE PAUSE) Yeaaaaah. They do! And they don’t know anything either.
Me: Do you know lots of stuff?
T2: Duh! Of course I do!
Me: Tell me something you know.
T2: I know that we’re finished here and there are a lot of trees to climb. Can I go now?
And off he went…..
So, what does that little exchange tell us?
Here’s what I got from it:
First, that even at 8, he recognized that competition was more important to the boys than the girls. I’m unsure of what that means for future development, but there it is.
Second, he can already call a spade a spade. He’s not tolerating bs from anyone. Although I had to point that out to him, he did realize it when it was.
Third, he recognizes the differences. “Gertrude” isn’t as “quiet” and does different things. He senses differences in inclinations, although these are starting to turn into stereotypes of abilities. But the girl who made an effort to relate to the boys on their terms was welcomed. What does that mean?
Finally, he has an annoyance towards girls who “take over because they want to do it their way”. This is the one that disturbs me. Does he feel this way because the girl has suggested an incorrect approach and is pushing it anyway? Or does he feel this way because it is a girl who is asserting herself? Given the overall tone of the conversation, I am unable to draw a definitive conclusion. This one will bear some watching in the future.
So, there it is. What do you take from that exchange? Anything to add? Am I reading too much into it? What is your favorite tree to climb?
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